Well-managed compliance protects companies from criminal offenses, breaches of rules, unethical behavior and the associated financial losses and reputational damage. But even the most sophisticated compliance organization can only be effective if communication is right. It builds the bridge between the rules and regulations and acceptance within the company with transparent information and an exchange based on trust. Compliance management can only be successful if everyone is informed about the regulations, duties, codes of conduct and responsibilities, can understand all the rules and supports the associated goals.
The right communication concept
Compliance communication is aimed at all employees. For it to have an effective and targeted impact, it is crucial how the issues are communicated to the team. Compliance can only bear fruit in the company if the management level sets a good example in accordance with the “tone from the top” principle and exemplifies the compliance principles in an exemplary and credible manner. The clear objective of compliance communication is to create the greatest possible transparency and a high level of acceptance within the company for the shared values and an awareness of possible risks. The key compliance topics are individual and wide-ranging, depending on the company and industry. They span from the handling of customer gifts and secure data protection to defined internal rules. In order to inform all employees about the relevant compliance rules and to sensitize them to compliance issues, communication is methodically established with the appropriate mindset and the right discussion environment. Compliance management ensures that all relevant regulations are clearly formulated and can be implemented in legally compliant, agile work processes. Communication ensures that everyone in the company follows the rules and regulations, that broad acceptance is created, and that everyone in the team acts in conformity with the business objectives.
Between rules and trust: communicating compliance in the team
Internal communication ensures that all employees know what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do, what internal rules exist and what behaviors the company values. The most important thing here is to motivate the team to follow the rules in order to act in accordance with the business objectives and the value culture. Internal compliance communication is also a balancing act between employee control and employee motivation, between “hard” and “soft” tonality. On the one hand, it is important that employees take the compliance rules seriously, accept them and also know the sanctions. However, if employees have the feeling that they are being overly regulated and controlled, they are more inclined to undermine the rules. Therefore, trust and transparent communication are important success factors. The communication concept should aim to establish both a rule-based and a trust-based culture. As the term “communication” implies, this is not about the unilateral imposition of rules, but about dialog and joint exchange.
Reaching the goal with the right communication tools
As an essential component of governance, communication conveys the company’s mission statement and guidelines to the addressees via various tools and channels. In order to reach them at all levels, it is important to take into account the different work situations. Compliance guidelines can only be lived if they can be implemented well in the individual daily work routine. Compliance communication can take place via various channels – such as brochures, newsletters, podcasts or the intranet. A mandatory component for management is to seek direct personal exchange with employees. This builds acceptance and understanding of the guidelines because it makes it possible to discuss and present the context in the respective work situations. This can take place via consultation dialogs, employee discussions and workshops. To enable employees to ask questions directly, it is important that they know the relevant contact persons and are given the feeling that their concerns will be dealt with in a trusting manner. Employees should be able to use the internal anonymous whistleblower system, which is required by the EU Whistleblower Directive for every company with 50 or more employees, when they have concrete information about grievances.
Success factors of compliance communication
- The right strategy: developing a communication concept and selecting communication channels.
- Trust and role model function: A trust-based management culture is essential for compliance to function in the company. In other words, the compliance officers themselves live compliance and the associated corporate values.
- Transparent communication: It is important that the rules are presented in a practical and plastic manner, guiding rather than confusing. It is also important that the intention of the rules is made clear – employees must understand and be able to comprehend why they may or may not do something. In this way, the compliance requirements are understood and accepted.
- Practical relevance: It must be ensured that the compliance rules and corporate values are in harmony with daily processes.
- Continuity: The significance of the compliance measures with its laws, rules and individual behavioral norms should ideally be constantly repeated through various channels and, if necessary, expanded and updated. This is the only way to create a sustainable compliance culture.
THE MAK`ED TEAM supports small and medium-sized companies in the development and implementation of compliance management and the appropriate communication strategy.