A culture of compliance starts at the top of your organization. You and your managers can model the behavior you want to see by always acting ethically and following regulations carefully, though this should go without saying.

Keeping up with compliance is more than ethical — it's essential for your bottom line. Breaking a rule can lead to fines and irreparable damage to your reputation. Are you doing everything you can to help your employees make the right decisions? Creating a culture of compliance is key to avoiding costly trouble.

What is a culture of compliance? While most organizations offer compliance training, they often don't go far enough. Compliance should be more than just the occasional session or review. It should be one of your organization's core values and something your employees think about each day as they do their work.

Here are a few ways you can create a culture of compliance.

Clearly Define Compliance Problems

Regulations are always changing, and what's against the rules is not always clear. Your staff in charge of compliance should be constantly looking for changes and giving staff updates as soon as possible. Immediately hold training sessions for your workforce on new rules — don't wait for your annual compliance review. If you don't act quickly, your employees may start breaking rules they aren't aware exist.

Proactively Track Problems

When organizations discover a compliance problem, it's often too late: They've already upset customers or even run into trouble with regulators. Instead, proactively think about what compliance violations could develop.

If employees are judged based on how long they keep customers waiting, for example, is there a chance they're misreporting wait times? Come up with new ways to track problems, for instance surveying customers after the fact to see if their experience matches what was reported.

Your compliance department shouldn't be the only ones keeping track. Give your employees ways to anonymously report trouble. Make compliance part of how managers evaluate their departments. With more employees paying attention to compliance, you may be able to discover areas of concern before they develop into serious issues.

Financially Reward Compliance

It's one thing to say you support compliance, but when promotions and pay raises are only based on other factors, it's easy to see why employees can be pressured into poor decisions. So position compliance as part of your decision-making process for offering raises and promotions.

If your industry is particularly prone to regulation changes that affect day-to-day business, consider rewards for employees who stay on the ball. For example, your weekly staff meeting could include a compliance "trivia question." Give a gift card or other small reward to employees who give the right answer.

Lead by Example

A culture of compliance starts at the top of your organization. You and your managers can model the behavior you want to see by always acting ethically and following regulations carefully, though this should go without saying. You should also regularly talk about the importance of compliance and point out when employees perform compliance-related tasks well. If employees see top leaders valuing compliance, they'll know it really is a priority.

Above all, stress that a culture of compliance it not about blaming employees or getting them in trouble. Instead, it's about limiting risk and creating a more ethical organization. Your employees are likely to respond positively, feeling proud to work at an organization committed to doing the right thing.

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Tags: Risk Management