HR and compliance leaders are responsible for a variety of functions and operations, but by ensuring alignment around common issues and best practices, they create more effective compliance programs, improve workplace culture, employee Engagement, and performance can be improved. The common denominator is the human factor.
In this Q&A, Traliant’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Maggie Smith, and Traliant’s Chief Evangelist Officer, Lawyer, and former Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Maria D’Avanzo, explore the intersection of HR and Legal/Compliance and collaboration. Discuss the benefits.
Q1. What changes in the last few years have made it important for HR and compliance to work more closely together?
One of the biggest changes is the move to remote or hybrid work. The rules and expectations of behavior haven’t changed, but the circumstances and work environment have changed. For many HR leaders, this means reviewing workplace policies and coordinating with legal/compliance colleagues to ensure that organizational policies, procedures, and practices are up-to-date and aligned.
In addition to navigating compliance in a remote work environment, another important change is the updated Department of Justice (DOJ) assessment of corporate compliance programs. With the DOJ’s renewed focus on corporate culture, training, and communications, it needs to integrate an effective compliance program across the organization, starting with onboarding new employees.
Q2. This brings us to the topic of workplace misconduct. How do you see HR and legal/compliance working more closely together in this important area?
Investigating fraud reports is a good example. Best practice is to create a unified approach to research. This includes the implementation of policies, protocols and procedures covering various aspects of an investigation, as well as various factors to consider such as how to communicate with whistleblowers and the determination of witnesses and who will lead the investigation.
Yes, depending on the complaint and circumstances, investigations may involve interdisciplinary teams such as HR, in-house or external attorneys, so appropriate structures and policies should be in place. It’s also important to train managers on how to respond to employee complaints (what to do and what not to do) to avoid costly mistakes and violations.
Q3. Training is another area that straddles HR and compliance. How can practitioners make the process of selecting training partners more efficient and effective?
Selecting the right compliance training partner is a decision that impacts the entire organization, so various stakeholders should be involved. One of her approaches is to create a small group to meet with potential training vendors to demonstrate relevant courses. In addition to Human Resources and Compliance, we recommend including Information Security and Procurement due to our familiarity with vendor selection.
Their input is also valuable because they are the front line for their employees. Other factors that are important to stakeholders across the organization are: Training that is personalized and tailored to your organization. We have courses available in a variety of languages. Is the training easy to use and manage? Real-time reporting is available. Surveying employees after they have completed a course is another useful source of feedback on training quality and effectiveness of training in motivating behavior change.
Q4. This brings us to the human factor. How can HR and compliance work together to promote a culture of candor?
It starts with our CEO and senior management setting an example for a work environment of trust, transparency and ethical behavior. Promoting a culture of candor may sound simple, but it takes teamwork and action to combine the right elements. This includes providing various channels (including anonymous ones) for employees to raise concerns and report misconduct, and to let employees know that the organization takes their concerns seriously. , including a quick follow-up. Scheduling regular meetings between HR and Compliance is an opportunity to develop a culture of candor and share insights, communication and best practices to track progress.
I would also like to emphasize the need to create an effective code of conduct that sets the tone for the values and principles of an outspoken culture. We know from experience that not doing so can result in reputational and financial damage.
Employees should feel safe to speak up and not be subject to retaliation. We also need to believe that leaders are responsible regardless of their level or seniority.
Despite their different roles, HR and legal/compliance leaders are strategic allies in creating a culture of openness that promotes ethical behavior and accountability across the organization. This includes coordinating policies, procedures, training, and best practices to minimize risk, prevent fraud, and comply with regulations to help businesses and their employees thrive in today’s complex work environment.