How to Cultivate a Culture of Compliance and Ethics

Every company wants to say that they foster a “culture of complaince.” An ethical corporate culture has innumerable benefits: your employees will be more satisfied with their working environment, your community will have greater trust in your organization, and your bottom line is sure to grow over time. However, creating that ethical culture can be difficult – if you don’t have the right tools.

One of the best ways to ensure an ethical corporate culture is to put great emphasis on industry compliance. If your business strives to adhere to the safety and regulatory standards set by your industry, you’ll likely find that being ethical is a natural outgrowth of those efforts. But how do you cultivate a compliant workforce? The answer lies in thorough and effective training from day one.

Embody Company Values with Code of Conduct

Whenever you hire a new employee, the first thing they should learn is the company’s code of conduct. The new employee must understand what’s expected of them in your organization – how they should conduct themselves AND what they should do if they spot non-compliance in the office.

Make sure that your company’s code of conduct is through, encompassing the legal and ethical expectations for the job. You must balance this with not making your code incomprehensible legalese. Your code should be written to be retained by your employees, not your lead legal counsel! You should also make sure the code is written down, so employees can refer to it whenever necessary.

If a code of conduct is your employee’s first experience with the company, this will tell him two things: the rules you expect him to follow, and that employee conduct is of utmost priority within your organization. This will help build a corporate culture where compliance and ethical behavior are front and center.

Educate Management

Businessowners don’t get to spend every day with their entire workforce. That’s why we have managers who deal with the day-to-day minutiae of the organization. Your managers are your emissaries, representing your interests (aka the company’s interests) for each of your workers. And therefore, if ethics and compliance are important to you, they should also be important to your managers.

Fostering an ethical culture within your workplace means teaching your managers how to handle ethical issues. Make sure all managers are trained on the company code of conduct, and that they understand the process involved if they catch wind of any wrongdoing. Remember, your managers are the people employees will speak to when they spot non-compliance. It’s absolutely critical that they understand how to foster compliance and ethics in the workplace.

Employ Effective Training Materials

If a company wants to foster a compliant culture, it must put a lot of effort into its compliance training. In most cases, this means creating a compliance training program that will really “stick” with trainees. No more boring lectures or dry employee handbooks; the best way to make training effective is to make it more engaging.

Spice up your compliance training with games, skits, or short videos. Try to have your employees actively participate (instead of passively listening) as much as possible. These techniques will help make the training process more interesting, which will in turn make it easier for employees to remember later. At ComplianceLine, we offer compliance training courses that encourage participation and provide data on completion and participation rates.

Evaluate Incentive Programs

Some companies use incentive programs to encourage their employees. Maybe it’s a quarterly contest to encourage sales. Perhaps it’s an “employee of the month” program that offers special prizes or perks. While it’s common to use incentives to improve productivity or sales, it’s also possible to use them to encourage ethical behavior.

Consider implementing an incentive program that focuses on appropriate behavior and adherence to compliance standards. However, take special care to make sure that your incentives are appropriate and in alignment with those standards. These can be low dollar value, public recognition, or culturally relevant incentives that leverage social proof and esteem rather than relying on monetary value for your impact.

Establish an Anonymous Reporting System

This final step might be the most effective way to foster a culture of compliance in your company. Despite your best efforts, some non-compliance is inevitable eventually. An employee might see her coworker doing something unethical, or might notice a management practice that doesn’t comply with industry standards.

What happens next will determine whether you are an ethical company.

Your company must have some way for employees to report ethical violations without fear of retaliation. Work with a third-party organization to set up an anonymous hotline where employees can leave tips for management. Then, when you receive these tips, ACT ON IT. If your employees see that misconduct goes uninvestigated (and worse, unpunished), they will no longer feel like they’re part of an ethical organization.

Ethics and compliance are essential to keeping your business running effectively – and creating a satisfied workforce. ComplianceLine has training software, hotline services, and other solutions to help you build a truly compliant culture of ethics for your organization. Contact ComplianceLine today to see how we can help you!