While professionals in a variety of industries have strived to adapt to changing regulatory standards, getting an entire company on board is a far different matter. Compliance officers have taken it upon themselves to become well-informed about the subject matter and the near-constant barrage of changes that affects it.
That said, a compliance officer trying to single-handedly bring a business up to regulatory standards is akin to trying to extinguish a fire with an eyedropper. Even if one person tries to implement all of the changes necessary, they are, in fact, only one person. Not only does the entire team need to get involved, but the entire team needs to be invested as well. Education is only effective if employees are willing to put operations in practice and audit their own behavior. Getting them to care is perhaps one of the greatest challenges a compliance professional faces.
For any compliance program, the first step to making it relevant is to start a program that has been tested with other industries. While compliance is certainly necessary to obey the law, it also confers other benefits and allows a company to stay competitive. If a firm is able to comply particularly well, it can even strive to obtain a HITRUST certification and distinguish themselves further.
Once a company has established industry best practices, it’s time to look at how personnel are trained to achieve compliance. Training is a good first step, but compliance officers must find a way to engage employees effectively. The good news is that processes that lead to good compliance can also lead to increased productivity for employees. Try to simplify workflows and eliminate tasks that lead to possible compliance issues. Employees will be more supportive of changes if they feel that they benefit from them as well.
And employees should be incentivized for practicing good compliance. Establish both good compliance practices and well-defined rewards for following them. Structure any incentive to fit into the everyday workflow of employees and make them aware of how they can contribute.
Organization is also key. Data should not just be kept safe, it should be sequestered and stratified as needed. Whether digital or traditional, part of compliance culture should cover the way data is handled, backed up, and disposed of. Still, this is something that every employee has to be a part of, from c-suite executives right down to new hires. Don’t start a training program meant to elucidate the finer points of data safety and then not follow it up with anything.
Each employee may need a specialized approach to compliance. While anybody can fall victim to something like a phishing scheme, differences in data access means that a selection of training programs and follow-ups is necessary to cover common issues. Tailoring these initiatives to risk levels helps a company create an experience unique and relevant to everyone.
A skilled compliance officer can change the course of an organization through creating a culture based on compliance. Even as companies scramble to keep up with new regulatory environments, many are realizing that making these changes sooner rather than later can have a lasting impact and generate a significant competitive advantage.