Compliance – it’s something that doesn’t exactly spark the flare or excitement behind one’s eyes the same way that ‘culture’, ‘engagement’ or ‘wellbeing’ does for those that have taken on the HR title in their workplace. But the thing about compliance is, it’s a non-negotiable.
Compliance is the thing that needs to get done, so that other more exciting or fun parts of HR can actually take effect.
How can you expect to increase engagement and wellbeing across your workforce, if you’re workforce can’t legally work? Or, why innovate the onboarding experience if your employees don’t even know what’s required to do their role, or complete their responsibilities safely?
Compliance has always been the bug-bear of any individual working in the HR realm, and similarly, has contributed to why HR is sometimes seen as the ‘police’. The truth is, HR does have a duty of care, so they kind of have to be. But it does pose a few questions when HR compliance is boiled down, and one in particular: Can HR Compliance be engaging?
In short, no. Or at least, probably not. Compliance isn’t fun, but it is something we all have to do. So let’s change the question from ‘Can HR Compliance be engaging?’ to ‘How can we make HR Compliance more engaging?’. With this in mind our approach to compliance has been built around a neuroscience principle called ‘Cognitive Ease’ – in essence the easier we make something the more likely we are to complete it.
“A general “law of least effort” applies to cognitive exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action.”
― Dr Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize Winner for Behavioural Sciences
HR Compliance encompasses a vast ocean of procedures and processes, but for this specific topic, let’s focus on HR compliance tackling one of the most valuable areas of compliance (and one of the hardest) – Employee Data Management.
Employee data management is a large component of what makes up HR compliance, and something that is very difficult to nail. When we consider employee data management, we don’t just mean having a ‘central file’ on an employee with their basic personal information, contract and position description (and maybe a few performance mishaps here and there) – we mean the lot. It’s having complete visibility and accessibility across what makes up an employee’s journey in your business, from contracts to training records, qualifications to policy acknowledgement, and performance records to job mobility and movements.
It’s data that is needed in your business for it to function effectively, with the peace of mind that everything that needs to be tracked for legislative purposes is, and everything that we should be tracking for development and business acumen purposes is also.
What makes HR compliance hard though, is how the data is collected and managed ongoing. A lot of this data can come from the employee themselves or sources outside of the HR department, increasing complexity of capture and the room for error. Despite this, HR needs to keep oversight and control over all of it. So how can we achieve this? Great compliance coverage requires a coordinated and rewarding effort from HR and individual employees, and the ultimate answer to achieving this is to create a great employee experience. If HR can put the processes in place to make compliance checks quick, easy and rewarding experience for their team, in effect reducing the cognitive load required to complete them, then we know this will increase the chances of successful completion. This is why intelliHR makes it easy to seamlessly integrate compliance into user-friendly processes, and support configuring these with a few clicks to the needs of any company or industry.
The collection of employee data, depending on your industry, can sometimes be a non-negotiable. For instance, things like police checks, certifications, working with children checks, etc. may impact whether a person is legally allowed to work in your business. Given that this data is held by the actual owner, a challenge arises between making sure that employees have an effective, simple and positive onboarding experience without introducing tedious administration needed to start in their role.
Companies are combating this administration by using self-service platforms to collect data in their onboarding process. This allows them to automate the delivery of requirements to an employee, while enabling staff to take ownership of their own onboarding when it comes to compliance.
Think of your employee’s onboarding experience like a 30/30/40 rule: 30% compliance and documentation needs (such as policies, uniform orders, qualifications), 30% training and set up (courses, IT checklists, payroll set up) and 40% company brand and culture (buddy programs, welcome messages, social activities).
Typically, we tend to do the 30% straight upfront, which can lead to employees first interaction with the business being quite dry, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be all at the start. Figure out what compliance requirements you need to qualify at what stages of an employee’s onboarding, then start spreading out the 30% across the entire onboarding journey. For example, you need someone’s Blue Card before day one, but do you need to have them sign off on 20 policies on their first day?
Software can not only help employees with what they need to start in their role, but also keep the right people up to date on whether a person is compliant or not from their first day. HR and compliance tools have come along way, with a bigger focus on the user’s experience and effectiveness of what the tool is attempting to serve. Traditionally, we’ve seen large players in the HR software scene attempting to try and meet the needs of all of HR. Unfortunately the reality is – those tools usually evolve out of one specific feature, meaning it’s great at handling one or two areas of HR, but terrible at handling others, and in the world of budget constraints around HR, we need to start considering the move away from monolith HR platforms and instead embrace an ecosystem of best of breed tools.
The power of integrations and middleware is enabling HR tools to better connect between one another, meaning that more and more companies are switching over to an ecosystem of 4 – 5 industry best fit tools across recruitment, learning management, core HR, payroll and timekeeping needs that actually ends up costing the same as an all-in-one product. The benefit? Your users are getting a seamless experience, and your business can opt for industry best fit solutions connected through integrations and middleware. Having users interact with different pieces of software was a taboo topic in the past and something that HR professionals have educated companies away from, but with the recent integration advances, it’s time to start considering whether just trying to adopt a single one size fits all tool in your business is actually robbing your team and business of much needed capabilities and employee experience.
If you decide to head down the road of ecosystems, there’s a critical step that needs to be done before introducing topics around integrations into your environment – Process mapping. Whether you have one tool or multiple in your business, these are operating around pre-existing processes within your business. A lot of times, HR introduces tools into their environment without first mapping out the process. Why do we ask for this employee’s contact information both at the start of recruitment and also when they start on their first day? Why do we ask for photocopies of their qualifications if we don’t actually need them for their role? Do we need this data at a later stage? Why do we ask for this at this point in time? All of these questions and more need to be mapped out using design thinking methods to produce an understanding of everything that occurs within a process and why.
Compliance process mapping can help uncover who owns a particular stage of a process when it comes to qualifications, policies, training needs and can help with both replicating or evolving an existing process into new software, but also identify areas of change and steps that are duplicated. Typically, there is a lot of crossover between HR, IT and Payroll when it comes to things like onboarding and compliance. Mapping out all the needs by each department, when they occur, where the data comes from and who owns each process will strengthen any individual or shared process. The most important part about process mapping? Asking why you need something. If you can’t attribute the piece of data to a need in the business, chances are it’s a nice-to-have and was introduced natively. Keep it simple!
As we mentioned before, Compliance is not a fun topic – it’s nothing exciting. The fun part of compliance is when you don’t see or feel it. So aim for that, and make compliance so easy, with such a well executed employee experience that it will be practically invisible in your environment, but as a result effective. Fun, eh?