Even as we continue to navigate this strange year, it pays to take a closer look at your company’s compliance priorities to ensure they still align.
There’s no denying that the business world is dynamic and ever-changing. Between the evolving and ongoing pandemic, its impact on how we work, what we expect from employees, and what companies need to stay viable in this mutable and inflationary economic climate, the business world is evolving quickly. While many consider compliance a set-and-forget-it business process, it requires continual updating and change to adapt to the evolving dynamics and demands of consumers, customers and the economy.
While half of 2022 is already in our review mirror, now is prime time to take a closer look at how your company’s compliance policies are working and what you might need to adjust to tackle the latest challenges. Here are four considerations that every compliance officer needs to keep in mind as we move into the remainder of 2022.
Remote work is here to stay. It’s a significant perk for employees used to working from home during the pandemic, and it’s a huge factor that impacts employee retention.
First, let’s look at some facts. According to a survey of nearly 5,000 workers in late 2021 by FlexJobs, a jobs board that lists flexible remote work, 44% of surveyed employees know at least one person who has quit or is planning to quit their job as a result of in-person work requirements. Even more telling, 29% are actively seeking a new job that allows remote work, and 17% say that they would quit their job if remote work weren’t an option. According to findings from Pew Research, 60% of employees who have jobs that can be done remotely would like to continue working from home after the pandemic “all or most of the time.”
It’s clear that if companies want to keep their best and brightest staff, they’ll need to meet their needs and provide accommodations for flexible and remote work opportunities. So what’s a compliance officer to do? It’s time to adapt to the needs of the changing workforce, and that means ensuring that you have the right tools to empower managers to supervise remote workers without infringing on worker privacy.
Finding the right tool is a delicate balance and often depends on the sector in which your business operates. Still, compliance departments must ensure that they offer workers the right level of supervision and autonomy. You’ll need to work with your key stakeholders to determine what exactly you need to meet employees where they are, offer flexible work options and keep your company’s information secure.
Individual Responsibility for Senior Managers
Many senior company officers are familiar with personal liability for business activities. Still, the space continues to evolve as more lawsuits and cases come before courts all around the country, redefining what senior officers are legally and personally responsible for.
As we all continue to work in a hybrid work-from-home and in-office world, the lines between being off the clock and on the clock and lines of company property have become blurred. While this is new, it’s an issue that is continually evolving. If an employee is working from home and using their own computer to download work-related content at the behest of a senior manager, are they on the hook for “stealing” company property? It’s a fine line and a dicey one to navigate, but it’s becoming increasingly common in the remote-work world and something that compliance departments and officers need to clearly define to protect both employees and the company.
In addition, there’s increasing concern about reputational damage caused by unscrupulous executives. In many cases, senior managers can be on the hook for non-financial misconduct that, according to Reuters, can include everything from stealing sandwiches to manipulating college admissions. Making sure that senior managers keep their behavior on the right side of public perception is crucial for compliance officers to consider as we move into the second half of 2022.
Addressing Shifting Climate Risks
Climate risks have become an increasingly important aspect of managing corporate compliance, and it’s vital to recognize that the trend is here to stay. While standards are based on local rules and regulations, we can’t forget the lessons that the pandemic has taught (and continues to teach) us: Supply chains are not unbreakable, and the global climate emergency is something that every single business must tackle to survive.
Understanding how your business impacts the climate and how it can minimize that impact is vital to success. Understanding how your supply chain could be affected by rapid climate change, rising and warming oceans and the changing environment is also essential. It’s not something that compliance can ignore.
Focus on Due Diligence for Third Parties
While this comes up repeatedly in compliance assessments, it bears repeating, especially at midyear: Companies must have an effective due diligence program to ensure that the third parties they interact with are above board. That’s not just isolated to things like governance and legal requirements. For most companies, the third-party due diligence also needs to include everything from human rights and climate change to diversity and inclusion.
The Bottom Line on What to Keep in Mind for Compliance in 2022
While we can’t plan for what we don’t know, the critical function of compliance is to be aware of all the potential ways outside (or inside) forces could damage. Many people think compliance is a set-it-and-forget-it function, but, in truth, it’s a process that needs continuous updates to meet the changing goals and business environment.
By focusing on these four key considerations that every compliance officer should keep in mind in 2022, you’ll be able to better prepare for the potential pitfalls that could come up in the second half of the year and ensure that your company is on solid footing as we begin to prepare for 2023.