Friday, March 20, 2009

Managing Risk Through Compliance

So is your business or organization “too small” to worry about compliance? Perhaps the better question is: “How can we ensure (or regain) compliance with a reasonable effort and expense?”

Compliance does not have to be expensive or onerous. Many times, it is a matter of taking care of compliance as you go about your daily work. Let it pile up until the deadline is near and it will seem impossible, cost more and distract you from your primary mission. Like the journey of a thousand miles, take it one small step at a time throughout the year and you will make remarkable progress.

Compliance can be a smooth part of your normal routines if you incorporate it carefully and then communicate to all staff not only the value in terms of risk-management but also the benefits of ensuring accurate, incremental accomplishments throughout the year. Make it easy to do daily, without too much fanfare or extra attention to it.

Start with your compliance reports. Can you collect the data along the way? If so, where and how? You do it with payroll taxes, for example. Why not with your other types of compliance?

Look at the forms and database fields that your staff uses throughout the year. Can you add a few fields to capture the data you want to aggregate at year-end? If you have applied for a job at a large corporation or government agency in the past couple of years, you have seen this concept at work. Most now ask every online applicant demographic questions that the HR department needs to keep for its EEOC reports on applicant profiles. They collect the data throughout the year, aggregate it anonymously and keep it available for any reports (or litigation) later. If the business waits until it needs the data, it may have a very difficult time even gathering accurate data to defend its hiring practices. With a little effort along the way, compliance documentation is painless.

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