Establishing a Culture of Compliance

By Patrick Kiger

Sep. 16, 2008

Creating training and documentation systems is a crucial part of staying within the legal requirements regarding lunch breaks. But experts say it’s equally important to convince people throughout the organization that compliance is an important part of achieving the corporate mission, rather than a hindrance to it.

“A lot of managers have heard over and over again that productivity is paramount,” says Chris Bauer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based psychologist and consultant who focuses on the impact of ethics upon organizations. “You can train them about wage and hour rules, but if they still think deep down that the bottom line supersedes everything else, your impact is going to be limited.”

He adds: “I talk to a lot of managers and executives who see wage and hour mandates as annoying suggestions, rather than something that must be followed. It’s not entirely unlike the way that people talk about EEOC mandates. There’s generally a lack of respect for these laws.”

“You can train [managers] about wage and hour rules, but if they still think … that the bottoms line superseded everything else, your impact is going to be limited.”
—Chris Bauer, psychologist and consultant

Rather than relying strictly on the human resources department or online training programs, Bauer recommends enlisting trusted leaders throughout the organization both to disseminate technical information about compliance and to sell others on its importance. “If there’s a lack of trust in the messenger, the implementation will suffer,” he explains.

Bauer says it’s also crucial to augment training sessions with face-to-face follow-up. “There are some very good online courses,” he says. “But I know of too many places where there’s an answer key to the online test that circulates around. You really need to have someone on the ground, talking with managers and employees and asking some blunt questions about their understanding of what they do regarding wage and hour requirements—and just as important, why they do it.

“You need to get frontline managers and workers to believe that we all have some power to change things, at whatever level we’re at. That’s how you accomplish change.”

Workforce Management, September 8, 2008, p. 44Subscribe Now!

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