A significant shift for all compliance programmes
In a short period of time, COVID-19 has not only changed the way we work forever, but also the way compliance programmes need to be managed.
Results from a poll during a recent webinar «Compliance during the Corona crisis» on April 22nd 2020.
Never has it been more important to have robust compliance processes in place. Companies need to adapt their processes to ‘the new normal’ as the crisis cannot be an excuse for poor compliance management.
What does this mean for compliance programmes?
1. Values and culture are still at the core of every compliance programme.
The world has been turned upside down. There are a myriad of new risks and legal issues arising from remote working, workplace safety, antitrust issues and more. The balance therefore needs to be established between responding to these emerging risks and proactively driving the compliance programme.
- Values and culture need to be continually reinforced to avoid misconduct increasing, for example employees becoming more inclined to “cut corners” in order to reach sales targets.
- Compliance plays an important role in implementing and communicating these values and culture.
It might seem challenging to convey values and culture during this time however it’s vital for all organisations. Values and culture not only help create a sense of community while employees are working remotely, they also reduce risk. Below we have summarised some effective strategies to assist – just read on.
2. An effective whistleblower system is more important than ever.
In a challenging economic environment, employees are more likely to commit misconduct as they feel pressure to perform and fear losing their jobs. Companies need to closely monitor their hotlines and ensure they have effective processes in place for employees to speak up.
- Allowing stakeholders to report anonymously is particularly important when there are high levels of uncertainty during an economic crisis. Not all channels provide for this.
- Making sure that reports, messages and documents are securely stored to maintain confidentiality and that the case can be effectively managed and investigated are also key requirements.
These and many more advantages are provided by a best-in-class whistleblowing system, such as EQS Integrity Line. It ensures reliable, robust reporting channels and secure case management.
3. Internal communication around Compliance needs to be transformed.
Companies are at different stages of their digital transformation journey. This also applies to compliance teams – weaknesses have been highlighted during this crisis. Now is a good opportunity to optimise technology to improve internal compliance-related communication:
- Reduce emails and meetings, start using collaborative tools and videoconferencing
- Create smart ways for your compliance team(s) to work together with group chats and shared files
- Use meeting formats like daily standups or virtual workshops to ensure proactive communication and team collaboration
By creating digital channels for your compliance team(s) to communicate, your compliance organisation can thrive even during challenging times.
4. Traditional policy management just doesn’t work anymore.
Many companies have been caught out not having adequate ways of communicating and collecting attestations (where relevant) for policies and procedures. How can policy management be optimised to become more efficient?
- Have a central portal where employees have access to policies relevant to them
- Automatic distribution of policies to new employees depending on their role
- Digital confirmation processes to demonstrate accountability
All this and more can be provided by a specialised policy management software. The EQS Policy Manager supports organisations to establish an effective and automated system to make sure everybody receives and understands policies.
5. Compliance trainings go virtual.
Compliance training programmes and social distancing guidelines are in direct conflict, forcing compliance teams to rethink. Practitioners must pivot training to meet business needs right now, and transform how training is done. The good news is virtual training can be very effective when done well.
- Focus on upskilling and educating employees in key areas of emerging risk
- Leverage video conferencing via one of the common video conferencing tools (we recommend Microsoft Teams)
- Screen-share slides to convey the most important points in the training
- Record training sessions to establish a training library for new employees or to re-watch over time
To keep training interactive, you might use tools like Mentimeter for short polls or just ask open questions to your virtual audience.
6. Excel- or email-based compliance processes have had their day.
Many compliance teams still rely on Excel, email or even paper-based processes. Examples of this include the management of gifts & invitations, conflicts of interest or third-parties. With resouces being stretched, digital solutions will be the only way to manage these processes efficiently. The benefits are:
- Employees know exactly where to request approval for gifts and hospitality or new business partners
- Processes can be automated based on predefined rules and thresholds
- Audit trails ensure that you are audit-ready, without having to search for emails and files
Digital compliance processes help save time. By using tools like EQS Approval Manager, business stakeholders spend less time trying to find information and are more satisfied with Compliance.
7. Internal investigations come with new challenges.
How do you conduct an interview when you can’t be in the same room? How do you effectively collaborate with other investigators with travel bans and working remotely? One thing is clear, investigations must go on.
In this situation, a digital case management solution might come in handy.
- Easily collaborate with other investigators on a central platform
- Document interviews and other tasks in a secure way
- Keep all data encrypted and stored on high-security hosting infrastructure
Trust in a powerful digital case management platform, like the case management in our EQS Integrity Line.
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