There are a few things that compliance officers and other in-house counsel can take away from the late-November giving-shopping-doing spree (other than exhaustion!). With a bit of creativity, you can turn the sales and service holidays into compliance tips to carry forward into the new year.
Taken in reverse order: Let’s think about reconstituting Giving Tuesday into “every Tuesday, give one incentive/form of compensation to an employee who participates in YOUR compliance program.” Why? Well for starters, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines state that for a compliance program to get credit, one aspect that has merit is creating incentives for employees to do the right thing. In my years working with compliance officers, this has always been somewhat of a head-scratcher. So what about if in the new year you pull this off through your own Giving Tuesdays?
The idea would be that on Tuesdays you seek out an employee to congratulate for their compliance focus. It might be through a gift card or some other small financial carrot you arrange with your human resources colleagues. Or it could be a simple, public shout-out, recognizing, for example, an employee who has called to ask about a potential conflict of interest or the right way to go about adding a second job to their portfolio. There are great examples of employees wanting to do right to do good for your company, and recognizing them helps to continue and multiply the trend. In this way, you give to them, to every employee, and to your company.
Cyber Monday? This one is super obvious. Mondays are a perfect day to remind your employees about good cyber hygiene. Use a standing Monday message to pick a cyber topic to highlight. Phishing, GDPR, proper use of company computers and technology all quickly jump to mind. A list of 15 or so topics would be a great rotation, and then repeat them. We are often hesitant to communicate the same message twice; yet we know the old adage nothing is heard until you have said it three times. So a steady Cyber Monday diet of good hygiene tips would be a good play for the new year.
Finally, Black Friday is all about getting good deals. And we know that when it comes to the work your compliance team is undertaking, especially addressing reports of misconduct or true investigations, they ARE studiously looking to give a good deal – as in using thorough investigative and reporting techniques to ensure that due process is given to all employees, those who report and those who may be in the crosshairs. But do your employees understand this close attention to due process in your investigation plan and procedures? A Black Friday plan to communicate your team’s successes on, when else – Friday – can help break down the mystery employees see when they look at your team as outsiders. And knowing the process will take away fears about using it.
The goal with Black Fridays is to be certain your employees have the tools they need to report a perceived legal or code of conduct violation. You could report on the number of investigations you have closed in a recent time period, how long they took to close, and a high-level summary of the topic. Or, depending on where you are in your compliance program’s evolution, even a simple reminder of HOW to report might be warranted.
These are just some quick and hopefully fun ideas to systemize your compliance communications to keep your program focused in the coming year. And if some of these have you wanting more, or seeing gaps in your knowledge or in your compliance program’s potential effectiveness, you might take this as a reminder to reassess and retool the program as soon as possible.
This alert was written by Jane Lewis-Raymond when she was a partner at the firm.