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6 Ways to Maintain Workplace Compliance

by David SwiftMarch 23, 2021 8:00 AM

Whether you need to follow legal regulations or simply have some company rules, workplace compliance requirements are crucial for any small business. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get employees on the same page. 

It’s important for small businesses to take some steps toward encouraging a compliant workplace. Encouraging this type of culture can help businesses save on workers’ compensation, create a safer workplace, and help everyone stay on the same page. Let’s break down what you can do to get your employees to buy in to your company’s rules. 

A man hooking into a safety harness to meet workplace compliance requirements.

How to Ensure Compliance in the Workplace

There are a few different steps that employers can take to help cultivate a culture of compliance. Here are six ways that you can make sure that your workforce complies with existing policies and procedures.

Document any rules your employees need to follow

The first step toward workplace compliance is to make sure everyone knows your policies and procedures. It’s important to document your company’s rules in your employee handbook. This way you can give each employee a handbook so that they can review the regulations you have in place. 

This process will not only give everyone a document to review their rights and obligations, but also serves as a compliance tool in case there are any occasions where people violate company policies. You can have employees sign off on receiving and reviewing your handbook. You can also create checklists to ensure employees understand all the right steps for certain procedures.

It’s also important to make sure your policies and procedures stay up to date with any new federal laws or business trends. You can update your handbook to add new policies or tweak existing rules, just make sure that every employee has a means to access these rule changes so that they can stay compliant. Finally, these documents should be easily accessible so that employees can review them at their own leisure.

Consistently apply those policies and procedures

Having policies and procedures in place is one thing, the way you apply them is another. Your compliance rules affect everyone at your company, from the top executive to the newest member of your team. 

It’s important to make sure that you consistently apply those policies and procedures equally so that your whole organization sees that there isn’t any special treatment. If employees see that the rules aren’t applied equally, they’ll be much less likely to buy into them. That disenchantment can quickly lead to non-compliance.

The best way to avoid this potential problem is to reinforce how important these policies and procedures are for everyone. Have regular handbook reviews where you go over key policies and company culture with your whole staff and reinforce that it takes buy-in from everyone. By setting an example and making sure everyone is accountable, you can instill a culture of compliance and avoid issues stemming from inconsistent treatment.

Take a positive approach instead of just saying “no”

If you want people to truly buy in to a culture of compliance, it’s best to focus on what they should do instead of telling them what not to do. Taking an “anti” approach with workplace policies is like telling someone “no” over and over – at some point, they may stop listening.

This natural reaction to being told what not to do is why it’s better to focus on proper behaviors and educate employees on why that approach is best. If you have certain safety rules in place, create policies of what employees should do and why those behaviors are best. 

For example, lay out guidelines on the safety equipment employees should use and how that equipment keeps them safe and healthy. That type of message will naturally hit home harder than simply saying “don’t work without a harness.” By providing positive instructions and providing the reason behind it, your workforce can at least understand why those rules are in place, even if they don’t like it.

Invest in employee training

Once you have your policies in place, you’ll want to do more than just communicate them with employees. Training will help reinforce those compliance procedures and policies so that they’re less likely to make mistakes. These training sessions should cover the following topics.

  • Safety and health policies, goals, and procedures
  • Functions of the safety program
  • Proper contacts for any questions or concerns about the program
  • How to report hazards, injuries, illnesses, and close calls/near misses
  • What to do in an emergency

Training should also be more than a one-time event. An ongoing training program can help your employees stay aware of company policies and procedures, especially if there are any changes to your compliance guidelines. 

Use positive reinforcement for doing the right thing

Let’s be honest, the average person doesn’t think of workplace compliance as a fun topic. That doesn’t mean the subject has to be a drag. Utilizing positive reinforcement to reinforce your policies and procedures can not only help prevent problems, but also encourage your employees to actively participate in workplace compliance measures.

There are several different ways that you can go about this process. If you’re trying to get people into compliance training, the company could buy lunch for employees to get them more excited about the session. You can also incentivize employees by setting up a small rewards program for people who actively engage in compliant behaviors. If you make compliance a positive experience, employees will be much more likely to follow company policies and procedures.

Keep employees engaged

Positive reinforcement is one step in the right direction, but don’t forget that compliance is a two-way street. It’s critical to keep communication open for any employees who want to talk about workplace compliance. Those conversations will not only help your employees feel heard, but also uncover some potential opportunities for improvement.

Sometimes these conversations aren’t exactly enjoyable. If someone breaks company rules about safety, harassment, or something else, it’s time to have a serious discussion about unacceptable behavior. It’s important to foster a compliant work environment, so these conversations are necessary to explain why an employee’s behavior went against company policy and how to move forward.

It’s also important to keep an open dialogue with employees to see what’s going on around the workplace. If employees are experiencing difficulties with certain policies or have some feedback about how to create a safer work culture, let them know that management is there to listen. Allowing people to share what they’re experiencing can help foster a more engaged workforce and help identify potential opportunities to improve compliance. 

Create a Culture of Compliance

From safety regulations to parking policies, it’s important to make sure that everyone buys in to your company’s rules. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this process alone.

GMS works with businesses to develop a culture of workplace compliance and help them save time and money through expert HR outsourcing. Our team can help instill a culture of compliance through employee training, documentation, and other measures to help prevent future issues.

Ready to make your company simpler, safer, and stronger? Contact GMS today about how we can support your business through comprehensive human resource services.

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