Regulated firms have been struggling to keep up with compliance for years. But with a huge chunk of staff working from home because of the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have escalated.
The rapid pace of regulatory change hasn't slowed down. If anything, it has sped up. As a result, the triple-whammy of manual processes, silos, and remote working has made it all the more challenging to keep up with regulations, communicate with staff, and make sure everyone follows the rules.
Clearly, the way we do compliance needs to change — to borrow an often repeated 2020 catchphrase — now more than ever. And it all starts with having one, single, centralised policy portal for your whole organisation.
Here's why this is crucial in 2021.
The most compelling reason to have one portal for your policies is that it makes the compliance process more user-friendly. And the easier it is for staff to locate and consult relevant policies when they need them, the more likely they'll be to engage with the process and actually comply.
Silos create all sorts of problems. Even basic tasks like finding the latest version of a policy can become complex, multi-day affairs. Worse, if your staff receive updates from several different sources, it can become hard to keep track. Which means important changes to your policies might get lost in a pile of unread emails and lead to non-compliance.
This latter issue is all too common. According to PoliteMail's 2021 Corporate Communications Internal Email Benchmarks Report, staff are so overwhelmed with information that only 33.1% are engaged when reading internal communications. The majority read only a small portion, skim, or ignore them altogether.
In comparison, things are far simpler and more straightforward when there's a single, go-to source.
Instead of wasting time and effort tracking down the right policy, staff can log on to your portal and pull up what they need in a few clicks, safe in the knowledge that it's complete, accurate, and up to date.
Of course, a smart, centralised repository of information isn't just better for staff, but also for leaders and compliance teams. With everything in one place, you'll have full visibility over your policies and procedures. This will make it easier to keep track of documents, manage updates, collaborate, obtain approvals, publish and disseminate new versions, and, ultimately, ensure compliance.
ClauseMatch even identifies relationships between different policies down to the paragraph and shows you how changing one policy could affect other policies. This means you can understand the impact of new rules more quickly and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
With the UK's Senior Management & Certification Regime (SMCR) making individual senior managers personally responsible for non-compliance, that's a game changer.
If good policy management was important before, it's now fundamental. Unless rules of conduct and expectations are crystal clear for everyone in the organisation, people risk fines and jail time. A single portal for your policies greatly simplifies this process and ensures there's no confusion.
Needless to say, mounting regulation, outdated processes, and the burden of personal responsibility don't just make compliance teams' jobs harder. They also take their toll on morale.
In one survey of compliance officers, 58% said the stress woke them up in the middle of the night. And, in another survey, 54% said they'd change careers if they got the opportunity.
It sounds obvious, but if your organisation lacks the right tools — and this makes staff's jobs harder — good people will be more likely to leave and more difficult to replace.
More importantly, highly educated individuals shouldn't be spending the bulk of their time shuffling paper around and trying to make sense of Word documents and spreadsheets. By streamlining their workflow and simplifying the policy management process, you can free them up to do more valuable and stimulating work.
Of course, the same goes for other staff, regardless of their roles.
In a world where we have smart TVs, iPhones, and other astonishing technologies at our fingertips, it's disconcerting to go to work on a desktop computer loaded up with Internet Explorer and other software from the 1990s.
Providing your staff with technologies that help them waste less time and be more productive leads to higher job satisfaction. In turn, talented, driven people will be more likely to stick with you. And this will make your organisation stronger in the long term.
We're well past the point where having one portal for all your policies and procedures is just a nice-to-have. In 2021, it's a must.
With regulatory updates coming thick and fast, it's simply not humanly possible to stay compliant if you rely solely on manual processes and technologies that are no longer fit for purpose.
A centralised repository that lets you store, organise, and update your policies from one place — and where staff can access them when they need them, regardless of their location — will make a huge difference to your organisation.
It'll give your leaders confidence that you're in control and the means to prove compliance.
And it'll free up your staff's time, empower them, and give them the confidence that they're doing their job right.