Every business is responsible for the health and safety of its employees. Whether you’re an e-commerce company with a warehouse or a marketing agency, ensuring legal compliance and managing risk in the workplace is crucial. Without these policies in place, you’re liable if anyone gets injured at work or your business inadvertently violates industry, federal, and local laws and regulations.
All organizations are exposed to risk. Failure to comply with various laws can affect your revenue, reputation, and overall success.
Types of Workplace Risks
There are several types of risk in the workplace, including the following:
- Illegal practices: Legal compliance is crucial to ensuring that your organization abides by all federal and local laws, including employment and industry-specific regulations.
- Privacy breaches: Another common risk is violating privacy laws. If your business handles sensitive information, you must take measures to protect data, such as credit card information, addresses, and emails, and prevent breaches.
- Workplace health and safety: Your business is legally required to follow set health and safety protocols enforced by federal agencies. Ultimately, risk management should keep employees, customers, and any other visitors out of harm’s way.
Ensuring Legal Compliance and Managing Risk
Legal compliance risk management can help you identify, assess, and prevent potential losses to help your organization maintain compliance with various laws. You should have a comprehensive risk management policy and procedure in place. However, this will be a continuous process that involves tracking and analyzing changes to regulations and within your business. Here are a few tips for ensuring compliance in the workplace to manage risk.
Use Risk and Vulnerability Assessments
As mentioned, there are several types of risks in the workplace, including safety risks, data breaches, theft, and legal risks. Regular risk and vulnerability assessments can keep your workplace secure while ensuring you can minimize the damage that occurs. For example, you must follow federal guidelines regarding cleaning floors of any hazards that could cause dangerous falls. Additionally, all businesses that store personal information should invest in cybersecurity risk assessments to ensure they’re doing everything possible to prevent data breaches.
Your overall risk and vulnerability assessment will reveal areas of vulnerability. It will also try to understand the cause of those vulnerabilities and how they can be addressed.
Document Policies and Procedures
Having documented policies and procedures can help employees understand what to do. These policies should be outlined in your employee handbook to prevent misunderstandings. Of course, the procedures outlined will vary depending on the nature of your business. For example, a warehouse might have procedures for what to do when a blackout occurs, while an international corporation may have a guide for what to do when there’s a data breach. Whatever the cause, your procedures and policies should be regularly maintained and updated.
After you’ve created your policies and procedures, you must start applying them immediately. All employees should implement them into their daily routines when necessary. Additionally, the rules should apply equally to everyone to ensure individuals can stay accountable.
Compliance isn’t something only the executives should worry about; every employee should focus on complying with legal standards. When everyone in the organization prioritizes compliance, the workplace becomes much safer. First, however, you should have someone in charge of compliance to ensure every employee follows the policies and procedures outlined in the employee handbook. This person will also be in charge of reviewing and updating compliance policies and holding employees accountable.
Additionally, you’ll need to ensure your employees have easy access to your procedures, so they should be given copies and time to read them. Next, you should train all employees to ensure they can properly follow the policies. Teaching your employees about laws and regulations in addition to what’s outlined in the company handbook can help everyone understand what’s expected of them.
If you have a large organization, you may need to conduct in-depth training specific to some employees to ensure that everyone has the tools they need to perform their jobs. You can also reinforce your set policies with checklists to help employees learn the steps they need to take. For example, you might have a policy to mitigate financial risk after letting an employee go, including complying with all the necessary HR laws, getting documentation, and returning any tech gear before they leave the building.
Stay Up to Date on the Laws
Laws are constantly changing, so an organization must continually review the current environment and update its policies and procedures. When implementing policy changes, notify all employees and ask them to sign a new document in their handbook to ensure they understand what’s being asked of them.
Monitor Employee Compliance
You can give employees copies of your policies and procedures, but they’re only documents until your employees begin following them. You must find ways to ensure employees comply with any and all policies and procedures outlined in your handbook. Unfortunately, this is the most difficult part of managing risk. You can’t watch all of your employees all day long.
The best way to help employees follow procedures and comply with laws and regulations is to work with your HR department to implement changes. You can also solicit employee feedback to determine if your procedures are impacting everyday workflows and efficiencies. Ultimately, if your employees ignore compliance, you must figure out why.
You can create an anonymous survey to ask employees about recent compliance changes. This will help you determine whether or not they’re likely to follow new procedures. If employees are already choosing to ignore procedures, your survey should ask why. The survey results will show you new ways to involve employees in the decision-making process. This will help everyone understand and comply with the laws.
Legal compliance in the workplace can be complicated, but it’s necessary to mitigate risk and losses. A detailed action plan can help you and your employees understand law changes and ensure new policies and procedures are followed.