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Why Employee Engagement Matters in Compliance

Employee engagement doesn’t come up a lot when talking about compliance. That’s a missed opportunity, since getting everyone highly engaged in compliance activities is really the only way to ensure that key activities are properly and consistently completed.

For instance, if someone were working remotely and felt like they were disconnected from the company at large, would they be as likely to complete required compliance activities properly or on time? What if they also had to navigate a complex support process to get tax records, requiring them to spend a lot of time on the phone during a peak period, like the end of the calendar year?

As these situations show, compliance and engagement can often seem to be in conflict with one another. Indeed, compliance programs can end up being so off-putting that employees avoid interacting with them until the last minute. But it’s still possible to create an engaging compliance experience, one that proactively alleviates issues and improves overall engagement.

disengaged employees

Why compliance is often so unengaging

Compliance programs don’t normally prioritize the need for strong employee engagement, but without it your compliance efforts can quickly breakdown. Oftentimes, the challenge is that employees don’t know where to go or what to do because most compliance-related activities are infrequent.  What impedes employees being engaged?

Not being able to get an answer

In today’s instant information world, employees don’t want to wait for answers. Whether it’s finding the right person to talk to or navigating through various online sites to get information, employees will be frustrated by any delays. 

A Google survey found that two of the main reasons that individuals choose calling over other modes of communication is to get a quick answer and speak to a real person. Unfortunately, that’s not what many people get when they call a contact center in the midst of a compliance-related workflow.

They might instead have to wait for an agent to become available and/or deal with an IVR interface that doesn’t deliver a satisfactory answer. These types of situations can strain employees who are already feeling disengaged.

In fact, loneliness is a commonly cited drawback to remote work, and one that only gets worsened when compliance programs don’t emphasize engagement. Failing to engage increasingly mobile and remote employees can also create other problems for Payroll teams, too, such as not being able to monitor employee travel for tax withholding purposes.  

multiple hr forms

Dealing with too many forms

On top of the difficulty of getting even a simple answer about where a certain item is or how to access it, employees also face the prospect of being bogged down by paperwork. Working remotely can make it even more challenging to deal with onboarding and yearly open enrollment.

For onboarding alone, nearly 20 forms may be involved in the average employee orientation process. Employees may struggle to work through these, while HR may lose considerable time to making sure that all the correct paper forms are sent to the right people.

Overall, the compliance experience can simply seem out of step with what employees and HR personnel are doing elsewhere. Employees can set up video conferences or access SaaS applications on-demand, while HR can leverage the power of a cloud-based business software – and yet both groups often find everyday compliance workflows difficult to engage with.

How to make compliance more engaging

Compliance and engagement are two sides of the same challenge – namely, how to capture and hold the attention of employees so that important tasks are completed. It’s much easier to solve this problem by upgrading the tools that HR and Payroll make available to employees. Some of the best options to consider include:

Self-service portals

The term “self-service” can seem a little jargon-y, since in a tech context it’s often associated with cloud computing. But in reality, most people use self-service interfaces all the time, whether for streaming a video or downloading a document from a website.

HR can set up self-service to make it much easier for employees to access the information they need, when they need it. As long as the portal is secure, this experience is much better than needing to work the phones or visit an office, while still being safe enough to comply with applicable regulations.

Electronic form delivery

This one goes hand in hand with the self-service upgrade. Electronic forms can be distributed more reliably and retrieved more easily than paper equivalents.

This setup is more efficient and timely, allowing workers to file their taxes on their schedule and better avoid any surprises that can’t be corrected in time, such as incorrect withholding. It helps improve engagement by reducing the frustration that can otherwise arise when dealing with compliance forms.

Offer proper guidance and support

To combat the infrequency of compliance activities leading to employee confusion or even apathy, be sure to give your employees the instructions and tools they need to complete necessary compliance tasks. Share communications with important reminders and instructions and use other HR channels to get the word out. Consider “gamifying” HR tasks to reward participation. Look to introduce new tech advancements, like chatbots, to help answer employees’ questions quickly.

Thinking about your employees’ engagement differently can go a long way to impacting your compliance programs as a whole. To learn more contact our team today.

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