Bringing Human Resources into the Compliance Tent
Companies are always fighting against stovepipes. It is inevitable but offices, divisions and/or functions within a company are always seeking an “advantage,” in competition against other parts of the company.
A company dedicated to teamwork and collaboration is always fighting against the forces of resistance and turf protection. Stovepipes undermine corporate functions and overall global management and resource allocation. Information has to be shared across offices, divisions and disciplines.
The more specialized an office, the better their arguments for resisting collaboration. The most important force against negative internal forces are positive personalities and leaders. Those managers with a vision for the total organization, who see the big picture, are often the confident ones who seek out collaboration.
Compliance officers often have to struggle with the leader of human resources. Human resource managers always see their operations as “specialized,” requiring unique talents, procedures and processes. They use these arguments to protect their turf.
Compliance and Human Resources are important partners. In many cases, Human Resources can identify potential compliance problems through employee morale or complaints. If the complaints increase from a specific office or department, that is a red flag for compliance officers.
Compliance and Human Resources work together on training, new hire orientation, internal HR investigations, exit interviews, employee complaints and potential litigation. Information sharing between the two is important and coordination can bring great results for compliance and Human Resources.
Human Resource professionals recognize they work in a high-risk and critical area for the company. They need to set up procedures for dealing with employees and making sure they minimize litigation risks. They also are able to identify disgruntled employees who may turn to whistleblowing as a way to vent their frustrations with the company.
Despite their specialized profession and the importance of their function, HR managers need to embrace compliance officers. They can share important information and develop better strategies for preemptively dealing with employment and compliance issues. HR conducts important exit interviews which can provide compliance with important information about corporate culture.
In addition, HR has a significant role to play in internal investigations and disciplinary actions. HR needs to sit on any Executive Compliance Committee, assist in any disciplinary process at the conclusion of an internal investigation, and ensure that consistent discipline is maintained in the company.
The trick is for both offices to recognize the benefits of collaboration and reject any need to preserve their turf or protect themselves from each other. It requires big personalities and big vision.