How to know when policy compliance takes over

The number of company policies an organisation has varies hugely, and company size is irrelevant. Policies are driven by the nature of the industry, so a small business may carry out complex, dangerous or high-security work and so requires policies to ensure compliance. Julian Roberts, CEO of EssentialSkillz, says that businesses often aren’t aware of how many policies they have on the go, so when it comes to updating or streamlining them, it can be a hugely time-intensive task.

The administrative burden of maintaining compliance is becoming more onerous year on year. Yet businesses show no sign of reducing the number of policies that operate in any organisation today. Successful companies recognise that good policies that are well implemented are a critical part of the infrastructure, bringing a level of consistency, uniformity, repeatability and risk management to many activities.

Of course, many policies stem from legislation, especially in the areas of employment law and health and safety, or from industry standards. Add to this the self-imposed policies every business introduces, and it’s easy to see how the number creeps up.

Research by EssentialSkillz found that 93% of its customers have more than one policy in their WorkWize system, tracking an average of 15 policies. Larger organisations or those operating in heavily regulated sectors can have between 100–200 policies in force at any one time.

Not only do more policies result in more admin for the initial implementation, but regularly ensuring that employees are compliant on all policies immediately increases the workload for administration or HR teams. This task of policy roll-out will need to be completed every time a new policy is introduced or an old one is updated, so it’s no wonder companies can become overwhelmed and look to use an automated system.

Unfortunately, some businesses make little or no attempt to track or trace their policy implementation and those that do are all too often relying on an unwieldy manual system or series of spreadsheets. Automation is a primary deciding factor when companies look to use software to implement policies. More than 50% of organisations mandate the sign off of their health and safety policies, so the burden of reminding themselves and others to comply is instantly removed.

Adopting online compliance management tools, such as WorkWize, means that policies are systematically rolled out to every member of staff and crucially provides an audit trail demonstrating which policy and policy version has been read and accepted.

An online dashboard gives compliance managers an instant picture of who has not responded or accepted the new policy, which means that follow-up action to ensure 100% compliance can be taken swiftly.

The system is designed to integrate with primary HR systems, or payroll systems, to avoid duplicate data entry of employee details. It can also be extended to a wider eLearning system, so that every policy rollout is accompanied by relevant online training, complete with tests, marking and full reporting on an individual and employee group basis.

The system is mobile and tablet compatible, so it is also ideal for field-based employees who can access policies and confirm compliance even when based remotely.

In summary, an online compliance management tool is now essential for any organisation that recognises the importance of minimising the risks associated with poor policy implementation and it is no surprise that risk managers, legal advisors and claims managers are all urging boards to take the issue of the policy audit trail as seriously as the wording of the policies themselves…