The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

HR and Compliance – The Slippery Slope


The constant improvement in technology requires us to plan for a world in which fewer HR administrators will be needed to do transactional work. We must embrace technology and utilize the functionality of employee and manager self-service if we hope to get HR out of the administrative functions and meet the expectations of adding value. Organizations will expect to have HR professionals who are working on the structure of the organization, providing strategic initiatives, acting as stewards for change and protecting the corporate culture. HR will always be charged with the execution of the employee needs, but the senior members of the leadership team will expect HR to be focused on business issues first.

Should HR be tasked with taking charge of compliance for your organization? Many HR people love this part of the job. The HR world is filled with notifications of the latest lawsuit that put a company out of business or the government audit that took days away from critical tasks. But HR should use the compliance responsibility they have to help managers accomplish what they need inside the boundaries of the law. HR compliance is filled with shades of gray and HR must understand how your organization chooses to walk the fine line of being in compliance and still getting its work done. Risk management is a critical function of the role as an HR leader.

Align with the leadership time to be sure you are all on the same page of risk tolerance. Organizations tend to vary how they approach risk. Be sure HR understands where your CEO is on the spectrum of risk and that you are comfortable advising others in the organization in the same way. A common complaint of management is that HR is a roadblock to everything. To be successful and move up the organizational ladder, you will typically need to be the HR person who advises and educates, but, unless the risk is immanently threatening to the organization, gets out of the manager’s way. In other words, pick your battles. If you constantly stand in the way of managers’ meeting their needs, you are sure to find yourself out of most decision-making meetings.

Consider the common practice of harassment training, for example. Yes, we all know that it’s best practice to train employees annually. But your management team may push back, saying they don’t have enough time to take everyone out of production for the same old message. Can you be creative and distribute a policy to stretch the training to every 18 months? Is it possible to have an abbreviated message communicated during open enrollment that all employees will hear? Remember to be the businessperson first, and figure out how to meet your compliance obligations that keep your organization out court, or at least minimize the damage, while still meeting the corporate goals and honoring the organizational culture.

The preceding blog post is excerpted from Lori Kleiman’s upcoming book, Taking Your SEAT at the Table, soon to be released. For more information, or to pre-order your copy click here!

Photo used under the following license.

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