Last week, I had the privilege of leading a roundtable discussion at Converge20 on “How Behavioral Science Powers Empathetic Workplace Routines and Policies.”   The roundtable discussion focused on how to inject empathy into compliance, and how human-centered compliance policies and systems more effectively mitigated risk.   A few weeks before, I had recorded a 5-minute podcast with Tom Fox explaining why I believed it was important to make compliance policies and systems more human-centric rather than process-focused.

Most of the time, compliance policies and systems are developed linearly:


How We Often Implement Compliance Systems.PNG

Instead, we should be focused on developing policies and systems that will withstand how people interact with various stakeholders:


How Compliance Programs and Systems Should be Implementedv2.PNG

But in “chatting” with the session participants, here are five things that have to happen before we can even get to a point where we can focus on the people when developing compliance systems and policies:

  1. We need to acknowledge our greatest fears and our clients’ greatest fears.  My greatest fear is that I will have missed a completely obvious compliance issue that will have dire consequences. My clients’ greatest fears are losing their jobs and being able to provide for their families.  Compliance is not at the top of our clients’ minds, and we need to remember that as we design and implement compliance policies and systems.

  2. Technology is not the answer to every compliance issue.  Before we rush to implement some new technology, understand the problem that compliance is trying to solve, and also develop a process.  If you do not have a process, nothing can be automated.

  3. Whether in English, or translating to and from other languages, legal concepts and requirements are getting lost in translation.  This lack of clarity sows more confusion and uncertainty for compliance professionals as they try to educate their clients about the legal requirements.

  4. Are there just too many laws that are not organized or even aligned around the globe?  And, in implementing all these laws, what exactly are we trying to achieve?

  5. Relationships are important.  Focus on understanding your clients’ needs and fears before attempting to check off every item on the compliance checklist. 

We need to figure out what obstacles exist and how to resolve them so that our compliance policies and systems can become more people-focused, as opposed to just process-focused. Evaluating people’s pain points and implementing processes to reduce them will enable your compliance policies and systems to be successful.

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