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Workplace compliance: What is workplace compliance and why is it important?

In this post, we’ll explore what workplace compliance is and how to build a compliance culture for your organization.

Amy Kirkham
By Amy Kirkham Content Marketing Manager

Workplace compliance impacts every aspect of your business and is an essential part of any company’s operational strategy. Yet, it’s often considered a huge pain point for workplace leaders. 

Ensuring workplace compliance isn’t as complicated as you might think. True, it’s not a one-time thing and it can take some time to get your head around it. But with the right strategy and tools, keeping your business compliant doesn’t have to be difficult.

In this post, we’ll dive into workplace compliance and why it’s an important protective measure for your organization. We’ll cover:

  • What is compliance in the workplace?
  • Why is workplace compliance important?
  • How to create a compliance culture in your workplace

What is compliance in the workplace?

Workplace compliance is the act of complying with federal, state, or local laws and regulations. Every organization, no matter the size, must adhere to compliance regulations. They must also meet specific mandates for data security, privacy, and workplace security. 

Enterprise organizations have even more compliance regulations to adhere to, as they often have many office and data warehouse locations. Failing to adhere to laws can be costly. Managing your workplace compliance is essential to mitigate risk and protect your employees and their data.

Why is workplace compliance important?

Compliance management is often mistaken as something organizations should do rather than what they must do. A common misconception about compliance is that you only need to worry about obtaining certifications. Sure, certifications provide peace of mind. But maintaining workplace compliance is not a one-time, annual activity. Keeping track of the different laws governing an organization can take time. Your company needs to continuously evaluate and update corporate policies and procedures.

Let’s take a look at some of the key reasons why compliance management is so important for your organization.

Keeps your workplace and data secure

Everyone plays a role in keeping your workplace secure and compliant. Employees handle personal information all the time. They also have access to sensitive data and information, depending on their roles.

If employees aren’t educated on how to keep company data safe, they might be a security risk to your organization. It’s crucial that employees understand their responsibility to maintain compliance.

Here are a few examples of different teams beyond IT handling data that needs to stay secure:

  • Finance: Personal addresses, credit card numbers, bank account numbers
  • Marketing: Email addresses, cookies, browsing histories, click-tracking, mailing preferences, social media activity, and in some cases, names and images
  • HR: Social security numbers, names and addresses, phone numbers, self-identification, immigration, and other demographic information
  • Operations: Customer names, client contacts, purchasing histories, visitor logs

Protects sensitive information

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued mandatory guidelines for businesses on how to prevent and reduce transmission of COVID-19 at the workplace. As a result, companies needed a way to securely store private personal information related to employee health. To manage this, many enterprises invested in a workplace platform that allows them to:

  • Verify vaccination status or COVID test results
  • Conduct daily health checks
  • Keep track of which employees are on-site and when
  • All while protecting personally identifiable information

Saves you money

Failing to ensure your workplace is compliant can be expensive. In fact, the total cost of non-compliance averages around $14.82 million for businesses today. 

An organization loses an average of $5.87 Million in revenue due to a single non-compliance event. But the financial impact goes far beyond just revenue—it’s vastly more expensive to your company’s bottom line. To understand the true cost of a non-compliance event, you have to consider some of the hidden costs. These include:

  • Fines, penalties, and fees
  • Business disruption
  • Revenue loss
  • Productivity loss
  • Loss of assets
  • Reputation damage

How to create a compliance culture in the workplace

Embedding a compliance culture into your workplace will help your workplace be compliant and secure. Here are the main roles, policies, and tools your enterprise needs to create a compliance culture:

Create a compliance management tiger team

With the rise of compliance management, companies are creating new titles and responsibilities. A compliance team can be one person or an entire department. No matter how many people you have on staff, your compliance team should have five areas of responsibility: identification, prevention, monitoring and detection, resolution, and advisory. Here are a few roles you might want in your compliance management tiger team:  

  • Compliance manager. A compliance manager stays up-to-date on relevant laws and regulations and ensures that the company adheres to them to minimize financial and legal risk.
  • Data protection officer. A data protection officer is responsible for creating and managing a company’s data protection strategy and implementation.
  • Risk management officer. A risk management officer identifies vulnerabilities and risks that an organization faces and advises on how to avoid or address them. 

Conduct internal audits

An internal audit is a chance to look inward at the processes and programs in a company to see how you’re doing. Think of an audit the way you’d think of running a diagnostics program on your computer. You don’t know for sure if something is wrong, but if there is, you want to know about it so you can fix it before it becomes a problem. Create a policy for your compliance tiger team to conduct a regular, annual internal audit to spot vulnerabilities before they are a problem and create a plan to address them. 

Train your employees

Engaging employees on compliance topics is no easy task. However, it’s important to socialize the message that compliance is everybody’s responsibility. Create an easy and digestible way for employees to understand the policies and code of conduct that they must adhere to—and make sure you customize it by location. You’ll want to train folks regularly, make the information readily accessible, and monitor and measure your efforts.

Leverage workplace technology

Workplace technology is an important piece of establishing a compliance culture on-site. Many organizations feel pressure to build sustainable infrastructure and processes to ensure compliance.

One part of a company’s operational infrastructure includes managing who comes in and out of your workplace on a daily basis—this includes visitor management. Going digital with your visitor management will help you maintain compliance. You’ll benefit from:

  1. Cloud-based data storage: Flag individuals who should not be allowed into designated areas through advanced blocklists, ID checks, and cross-checks with third-party watch lists
  2. Secure data collection and anonymization: Streamline compliance with data privacy laws by storing your visitor’s personal information in a centralized, secure location

Mitigating compliance risks without disrupting your workplace experience might seem daunting. But with the right technology, you don’t have to choose between ironclad security compliance and an amazing workplace experience.

Workplace compliance will never be pain-free. It’s a constant practice with increasing complexity–especially for enterprise organizations. Get on the front foot of your workplace compliance by investing in an enterprise-grade workplace platform

If you want even more information on workplace compliance, check out our ebook: The enterprise guide to workplace compliance.

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Amy Kirkham
Author Bio Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content guru at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy drinking coffee, exploring new places, or planning her next trip.