Whether you need to follow legal regulations or simply have company rules, workplace compliance requirements are crucial for any small business. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to get employees on the same page. While workplace compliance is often seen as an HR issue, it’s important for every employee to be aware of the laws that affect their work environment.
It’s critical for small businesses to take 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. Compliance is not a one-time effort. It’s an ongoing process requiring constant vigilance and attention to detail. The benefits of compliance far outweigh the costs, though, so it's important to ensure every employee understands their role in maintaining workplace compliance and feels comfortable raising issues with management if they see something wrong.
Let’s break down what you can do to get your employees to buy into your company’s rules.
The Benefits Of Workplace Compliance
Workplace compliance is an essential part of any HR department’s responsibilities. The goal of workplace compliance is to ensure that all employees are following the laws and regulations that govern their industry. By doing so, you will protect your company from potential lawsuits, fines, and other costly penalties.
In addition to complying with government regulations, there are other benefits to maintaining workplace compliance:
- It helps protect your employees from injury or illness by ensuring that they have the necessary safety equipment and training.
- It helps protect your customers from harm by making sure your products and services meet quality standards.
- It reduces employee turnover because employees feel safer working in a company that cares about their safety and well-being.
- It makes it easier for employees to focus on their jobs, knowing they will not be injured or ill due to unsafe conditions at work or poor-quality products or services provided by the company.
How To Ensure Compliance In The Workplace
There are several different steps that employers can take to help cultivate a culture of compliance. Here are ways that you can ensure 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 specific 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 the means to access these rule changes to stay compliant. Finally, these documents should be easily accessible so that employees can review them at their leisure.
Consistently apply these 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 essential to make sure that you consistently apply these policies and procedures equally so that your whole organization sees that there isn’t any special treatment. Should any employee notice 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 your employees to truly buy into 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 to workplace policies is similar to 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 specific 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 them, your workforce can at least understand why those rules are in place, even if they don’t like them.
Invest in employee training
Once your policies are 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 an exciting 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 participate actively in workplace compliance measures.
There are several different ways that you can go about this process. If you’re trying to get individuals 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 essential 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 feedback about how to create a safer work culture, let them know that management is there to listen. Allowing your employees to share what they’re experiencing can help foster a more engaging workforce and help identify potential opportunities to improve compliance.
Ensure equal employment opportunity
Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws are designed to ensure equal employment opportunity for all employees regardless of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. These laws also extend protection against discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
Employers must maintain records that document hiring practices and promotions to demonstrate their compliance with EEO laws. For example, they must keep records of applications received and interviews conducted. This can prove that they didn't discriminate against any applicants based on protected characteristics such as race or sex (including gender identity).
Revisit health and safety regulations
Health and safety compliance is a very important aspect of any business or organization. If you are not compliant with health and safety laws, then there can be serious consequences for you, your staff, and your business.
It’s essential that all businesses have a health and safety policy in place which outlines exactly what needs to happen if an incident occurs or when an injury does occur (i.e.: what do I do?). This policy should be reviewed regularly so that it reflects current legislation as well as ensures that everyone knows what their responsibilities are when it comes to handling such incidents.
If you have an accident at work or someone gets injured, then this could result in a fine from the health and safety executive (HSE) if the accident wasn’t reported correctly or if no records were kept of incidents that occurred on-site.
Create A Culture Of Compliance
From safety regulations to parking policies, it’s important to ensure everyone buys into 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 helps 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.