How to Simultaneously Strengthen Compliance and Employee Relations

Anyone working in Human Resources understands that the most fundamental goal of any HR department is to manage employee needs and increase organizational efficiency.

However, finding that balance between employee and employer dynamics can be challenging.

Convoluted, interdepartmental policies might strain the relationship. Additional paperwork may be involved when an employee submits a request. There may be legal compliance laws to consider, most of which have to happen behind the scenes in order to move the needle forward on any single process.

Unfortunately for many departments, this can lead to a sour relationship with employees, who see a stagnant organization made obsolete by (seemingly) obscure or irrelevant policies.

What’s worse: if a department tries to scale without solving these issues, it becomes more inefficient over time due to the increased administrative burden.

It shouldn’t be that way. Done correctly, HR departments can help employees thrive in and out of the workplace while complying with privacy laws and informational security.

Here are three quick steps to help you get started:

Align your departmental employee-employer compliance strategy

It’s no secret: Any HR administrator can get lost in a maze of paperwork. There are so many compliance laws out there, both internal and external, that it can be hard to keep track.

No matter the size of your organization, if you’re finding yourself drowning in files and forms, it’s probably time to assess the current landscape of policy compliance and figure out where your organization stands.

It’s easy to view new governmental regulations, like the GDPR, as an extra layer of frustration on top of an existing policy. However, sweeping changes and legal policy reforms may actually be a blessing in disguise, particularly if your privacy and security requirements exceed the basic standard set by a governing body.

Employee confidentiality is a key component of any HR platform; it’s essential to the function of the department and the business. As new policies come into effect, institutionally or otherwise, seize the opportunity to review old forms and compliance regulations. See where they overlap and figure out how to streamline your policy workflow into a leaner format.

It’s also doubly-essential that you ensure that no company forms are breaching policy during this overhaul. It’s an HR nightmare when a breach of employee privacy laws comes to light — and it can happen in a number of frustrating but simple ways.

Resolving these issues can have a huge impact on employee satisfaction as well as HR workflow. Not only does handling this issue bring the entire department into firmer compliance by supporting and educating other team members. It also creates a more efficient and streamlined process for the employees who are subject to those overarching policy changes.

Creating a logical and easy-to-follow employee handbook through efficient housekeeping can have a huge impact on employee relations. Without solid and efficient internal policies, it’s difficult for HR teams to optimize and manage the needs of their organizational counterparts.

Clean and secure processes must start within the HR team.

Drive policy with efficiency and accuracy

Many HR organizations have an overarching goal of driving efficiency. It’s both a functional process and a benchmark of performance. But efficiency is also a process of revisions. As explained in the last section, consolidation can be as much about compliance as it is about clarity.

Sometimes, the drive for efficiency can spin wildly out of control. A simple process isn’t the best process if it doesn’t meet the needs and goals of everyone involved. That’s why it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the necessary goals when creating a sound HR strategy.

Here’s an example:

Many times it is necessary for HR employees within payroll, benefits, and onboarding to create an efficient workflow process. The simple process would be to allow the employee responsible to create and manage those processes on their own.

But what happens when that document is out of compliance with mandated regulations or privacy laws that the employee who created it doesn’t know about?

One of the biggest frustrations within HR departments is the constant struggle to keep stray documents from falling through the cracks.

In this case, the simple solution doesn’t work.

This issue can be resolved by creating a clearance initiative for employee documents to check for compliance. The department could also create all workspace documentation themselves or through team partnerships. Any bottleneck solution will slow down progress, but the last thing you want to do is to implement a faulty process out of urgency.

This can be true for external employee requests, as well.

What about your organizational policy when your company is in contact with third-party vendors? Who might handle or request private information? You want to ensure that you are keeping track of internal and external policies as it’s easy to view security as the enemy of convenience and release documentation that should have otherwise been kept private.

Worse is the knowledge that any digital information has no expiry and the most critical breaches can affect thousands. Once released, stray data could endanger a company for a breach of privacy and the employee who must address any collateral damage from the loss of privacy.

That’s why safeguarding data through process goals like verification and disclosure policies can be critical to the success of any HR compliance initiative.

Empower employees

More than a few HR departments, especially at large organizations, are despised by employees. The truth is that the majority of people don’t trust their HR department.

This happens for a variety of reasons, from the belief that HR carries a bias or that they don’t actually have the interests of the ground-level employee in mind.

When employees view HR as a closed system that they don’t understand or have access to, the entire organization suffers.

One powerful way to improve that relationship is simple to imagine but difficult to implement: Empower employees to take a greater role in their own HR process.

Consider this: For most employees — especially at entry level and middle management — their experience with HR and personal data revolves around new hire paperwork, compliance training, a formal performance review or reprimand, and (occasionally) an exit interview. It’s the basic employee life cycle.

Members of management may speak with HR about on-boarding, training, and termination but rarely about their own documentation.

What many employees don’t realize is that their relationship with a company can play a role in their lives outside the workplace. Even something as simple as employment verification is a company process that plays a factor in whether an employee can buy a car or rent an apartment.

Finding a way to encourage and empower employees to take advantage of their own HR solution — and providing the tools and manpower to guide them through the process — forges an employee-first position that could help to bridge the gap between human resources and the frontline worker.

Providing a great path to engagement while keeping data secure and compliant not only leads to a more efficient outcome; it creates an outstanding employee experience.

Don’t do it alone.

Even if you’re an optimist, ensuring employee success and happiness through process optimization and greater access might feel like a pipe dream. There are other pressing issues, too much work, or too many processes to revise.

If that’s your thinking, imagine how the everyday employee must feel when dealing with HR.

The bright side is that this isn’t something you have to do alone. Tools exist to optimize or outsource key components of HR responsibility, from payroll and hiring all the way to automated employment verification.

The next time you find an obscure process or policy that needs revision, or you find your department falling out of compliance due to a loophole or new law, stop and reevaluate.

Is there a policy or process change you can advocate for to streamline your workflow? Is there a tool you can use to better manage and build trust with your managed employees?

Help them by helping yourself! Your team and your organization will thank you for it.

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