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Memo to Managers
Ethics & Compliance Engagement: Avoiding Cynicism and Staying Committed—Even When You’re Overwhelmed
Burnout. Fatigue. Stress. When we feel overwhelmed by issues at work, engagement can be the first casualty. Cynicism can start to seep into our conversations, actions and interactions. When this happens, ethics and compliance requirements or issues might feel like just another box to check. After managers and their teams reach a critical point of disengagement with E&C initiatives, you may start to hear things like…
- “Just take the online training as quickly as you can and get it over with. We’ve got more important things on our plate.”
- “Don’t bother reporting that to HR—they’re not going to do anything anyway.”
- “Right or wrong, that’s just the way things get done around here.”
- “That policy is so unclear. Just do whatever you think is best.”
- “We’ve always done it that way. I know it seems like a violation of procedure, but really it’s fine.”
- “Running that through legal is going to be a nightmare. Just sign it. No one will care.”
While these kinds of reactions may sound somewhat innocuous, they’re actually the seeds that can grow team-wide dismissal of ethics and compliance efforts. And a dismissive attitude can breed misconduct, unethical actions and a highly-damaging culture of cynicism.
Our organization is fully committed to ensuring that every employee is empowered and equipped to make ethical decisions that are in line with our code of conduct and our core values. The only way to live out this commitment is to help individuals rethink what they say, what they do, and how they get things done through a lens of ethical decision-making.
When E&C requirements are feeling burdensome, consider this: research shows that firms with excellent governance, risk and compliance practices generally have better:
- Financial returns
- Brand and reputation protection
- Credit ratings and capital cost reduction
- Advantages in mergers and acquisitions
- Cultures, and employee retention and satisfaction.
So the next time you hear a team member express scorn for an ethics and compliance activity—or when you’re tempted to say something negative yourself—get back on the right track by reminding your team member and yourself of the benefits of fostering a culture of compliance, ethics and respect.
As always, we want to be a resource for you. Come to us with questions, ideas and issues you’re facing. If morale or engagement on your team is low, let us help you reduce compliance risks related to disengagement while we work together on strategies for addressing the root causes of the issues your team is facing. And remember, as a manager, you are in the very best position to set a tone for your team.
What example will you set today?
Questions of the Month
Q. One member of my team is consistently knocking our ethics and compliance training, complaining about the time it takes and the “cheesy” scenarios. How can I help curb his cynicism and protect the rest of my team from its negative effects?
Consider sitting down one-on-one with your team member and getting to the bottom of his concerns. Is he receiving training that it not relevant to his role? If so, connect with the ethics and compliance team: it’s possible he may not need all of the training he is receiving. If the training is appropriate, however, and he simply doesn’t like it, explain the goal and importance of E&C training to you and to the organization. And ask him for ideas he thinks would be more effective for meeting those same ends.
Q. Several of my team members are very dismissive of several of our policies. I’m pretty sure they are violating these policies and using workarounds. What should I do?
Remind the employees of the risks related to non-compliance with your organization’s policies—including risk of dismissal. Listen to their concerns, and take those concerns to the ethics and compliance or HR department. They’ll want to know if employees are having a negative response to policies. If a policy is unclear or creating unnecessary inefficiencies, it’s possible that a change is warranted.
Learn how to deal with the consequences of unreasonable workplace pressure, which can lead to unethical behavior among employees.
Using Compliance Communicator
Equipping managers with the skills they need to navigate the E&C challenges they face is critical. Use the content in Compliance Communicator to help keep compliance top of mind with your managers and strengthen your organizational culture. NAVEX Global grants you permission to publish any or all of the content to best suit your needs.
For more valuable content from our Advisory Services team, subscribe to our blog, Ethics & Compliance Matters™. You’ll find perspectives on the latest E&C trends that impact your program, and get insights on increasing program effectiveness.