Must-Haves for a Small Compliance Team

A curated list of expert recommendations, aimed at making your heavy workload a little lighter.

Have you ever wished for a clone of yourself, ready to help you tackle your ever-expanding to-do list? Odds are, if you’re an Ethics and Compliance professional, you could use more than a few clones to help you with your duties. Although we’re probably a few years away from clones-on-demand, we know that a small compliance team is almost certainly over-extended and under-resourced. Hiring more staff may not be in the cards for your organization, so how do you make the best of what you’ve got and make sure you’re executing the responsibilities of your department? Stick with us for a list of best practices and must-haves for a small compliance team. You’ve got this!

The Takeaway

A small, but mighty compliance team should aim for the following:

  1. A strong, culture-driven code of conduct/ethics
  2. An inspiring and passionate team leader
  3. A helpline, configured to your organization’s unique needs

Convercent by OneTrust knows that no two days look alike when you work in ethics and compliance! Just because you’re mission-driven and motivated by enacting positive changes at your organization, doesn’t mean that it is an easy path to navigate. Keep reading below for a curated list of expert recommendations, aimed at making your heavy workload a little lighter.

Polish Up Your Code of Conduct 

code of conduct can be just another PDF you circulate to your employees, left to stagnate in a stack of other unread documents, or it can be the guiding document that enshrines your mission-minded, thoughtful culture. Your code of conduct can stitch together essential elements of both your corporate culture and your compliance program. If you’re already spread too thin, consider how your code of conduct can reinforce the things that are the most important to you and your department, but sometimes can get lost in the shuffle. According to Noshin Kahn, Compliance Counsel at Convercent by OneTrust, a code of conduct needs to be, “embedded with a thoughtful culture, emphasizing the feeling of belonging, so people truly care and feel responsible for themselves and others.”

A code of conduct needs to be, “embedded with a thoughtful culture, emphasizing the feeling of belonging, so people truly care and feel responsible for themselves and others.”

Whether you’re a team of one or you have a supportive and engaged cohort, your code of conduct is a one-stop-shop for your corporate culture, compliance initiatives, and mission. Building a strong culture of compliance starts with your code of conduct, so make sure that you adapt it to serve the culture you’re trying to build. In Jazz, they say that repetition legitimizes; the things that get repeated the most are the things people remember the most, for better or worse. The next time you update your code of conduct, comb through it and search for opportunities to reinforce themes such as trust, transparency, and consistency. When you’re busy putting out the latest fire (we know there is always something urgent tugging at your attention), you can rest easily knowing that your code of conduct will be working overtime for you.

Important Questions Your Code of Conduct Must be Able to Answer:

  • How do you differentiate your organization from the competition?
  • What problems are you setting out to solve for your employees, your customers, and the world at large?
  • Are your company values and your mission statement upheld throughout the contents of your code of conduct?
  • Does your code of conduct stand up to the scrutiny of multiple audiences? Does it serve both your internal and external needs?
  • Is your code of conduct useful for all employees at your organization? Does it serve newcomers, veteran staff members, and everyone in-between? Is it useful for entry-level staffers and C-suite executives alike?

Laud Your Leader 

If you’re a team of one or part of a fully-staffed compliance machine, your leader will be your biggest champion and internal resource. An ethics and compliance leader needs to wear many hats and if they aren’t up to the task or buckle under the pressure, your overall compliance efforts will suffer. Noshin describes an inspiring and passionate leader as an individual who has “answered the ‘why’ of ethics and compliance, making it the core of everything they do.” Your chief ethics and compliance officer needs to be an approachable individual who can be there for staff when things get difficult, but that same individual also needs to be resolute in their convictions and their commitment to compliance.

A leader of tomorrow might be hanging out on the sidelines today.

Your E&C leader also needs to sit at the table and hold their own with other leaders and decision makers, so shrinking violets need not apply. If ethics and compliance aren’t represented in the room where it happens, strategic decisions might not comply with current corporate initiatives or, even worse, relevant laws. If your team already has a designated leader in place, congrats! As a team, take some time to celebrate their wins, learn from their losses, and collectively strive for more together. If your compliance team is operating without a strong leader at the helm, don’t fret yet! A leader of tomorrow might be hanging out on the sidelines today. Take a look at the talent on your team (or in a mirror if you’re flying solo) and see who, with some time and training, could step into that leadership position. If you turn out to be the leader you’re looking for, try to reconnect with the reasons you got into this line of work in the first place and celebrate the strides you’ve already made.

Traits that Make a Strong Compliance Leader:

  • Resilience – When things don’t go their way, will they keep moving forward?
  • Passion – Do they “talk the talk and walk the walk?”
  • Drive – Are they motivated by both short term and long-term goals?
  • Humility – Can they admit when they’re wrong and learn from past mistakes?
  • Flexibility – Is this individual capable of pivoting, when required?
  • Fortitude – When the conversations get heated, do they keep their cool and carry on?

Supercharge Your Efforts with a Helpline 

A long-time ethics and compliance professional might wake up in the middle of the night, plagued by never-ending stacks of paperwork. If you’re an E&C veteran, you undoubtedly remember what your world looked like before technology changed the game: chasing down disclosures, printing and circulating PDFs, and that sinking feeling that there was no way to know if others actually read the documents you asked them to. An over-extended workforce is stretched even further when important elements of a compliance program are left to manual, high-touch solutions. If your team hasn’t yet implemented a helpline, consider how much of your time is spent on things that could be automated. We bet that you’d be able to increase your department’s output with the assistance of a configurable helpline and case manager solution.

A strong speak-up culture will support your department’s efforts as well as the business at large.

Not only does a helpline benefit your productivity, it also reinforces your messaging and corporate culture. A strong speak-up culture will support your department’s efforts as well as the business at large. A helpline alone will not magically save your organization from ruin, but when paired with a strong culture of compliance, it can supercharge any initiatives that come from your department. Want to measure hotspots or identify toxic departments? The right helpline can empower you with the data necessary to make changes with laser precision, eliminating uncertainty and doubt. Want to increase report completion rates or wrangle your large reporting volume? The right helpline can streamline your daily tasks and empower you with on-demand data.

Benefits of a helpline: 

  • Manage, investigate, and close cases 48 percent faster than the industry average
  • E&C teams close cases in an average of 23 days when using the Convercent Case Manager.
  • Unlock actionable insights into your ethics and compliance program
  • Reduce the time you spend preparing board reports from weeks to minutes
  • Identify systemic problems and prevent future incidents
  • Root cause analysis shines a light on problems within your organization right down to the employee level
  • Convercent’s intake channels reduce emotional and functional barriers to optimize and humanize the whistleblowing experience

Want to see for yourself how a helpline can accomplish all of the above? Walk through Convercent’s Helpline and Case Manager solution with a member of our team.