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Compliance is even more important when no one is watching

Most of us feel like we are in Teams and Zoom calls all day long, so it might sound silly if I talk about those times of the day when no one is watching.

But there are those times. 

Knowing everyone has those moments, how do we motivate employees to do the right thing when nobody is watching? Isn’t it the true test of a compliance program the fact that people are reporting suspicions, pausing before acting, and even admitting mistakes well before they become compliance issues?

I think it is – but the incentives for taking the time and maybe putting oneself in a position to be proven wrong (or reprimanded for one’s mistake) must be clear, and the advantages must outweigh the disadvantages.

This is why reports of suspicious activity must be easy to access and use and why there should be a component of performance reviews that includes a section on adhering to the rules and values of the organization. It is not optional. It is a critical piece of how an employee is evaluated for being effective in her job – whether she is a manager or not.

This is also why compliance professionals must be accessible. And why they should consider sending out periodic messaging about where to locate rules, training, and hotlines. And it is why they should also consider spotlighting those employees that get it right.

“Joe got a phishing email and promptly told us about it, allowing us to get our IT team to examine the issue.” And “Janet found aberrations in vendor invoices and told us about it early, enabling us to investigate the matter promptly.” 

Obviously, it is not wise to advertise the report in some cases, but you get my point.

The onboarding period for new employees seems like a great time to set expectations and to stress the importance of following rules and encouraging reaching out to reach the compliance team — plus a decent one to get them thinking about those performance metrics.

Finally, what about small reminders posted in the hallways and common areas, placed on shared, internal documents and sites, and in short video clips featuring executive leadership?

Not much gets our attention these days – so, yes, grab that compliance meme to use with your messaging – this one care of makeameme.org.

Just don’t let them forget that compliance is a shared obligation – even when no one is watching.

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