Many human resources and busi­ness lead­ers think about com­pli­ance in black-and-white terms. We sim­ply check the box­es and eval­u­ate com­pli­ance efforts using one mea­sure: “Are we doing it right or not?”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of fail­ing to see the broad­er impli­ca­tions of our com­pli­ance efforts. We need to go beyond, “What’s the law and what should I do about it?” We need to ask ques­tions like, “How does this law inter­sect with our cul­ture?” or “What best prac­tices will sup­port this require­ment?”  We need to under­stand that risk cross­es our desks every day.

That’s where peo­ple risk man­age­ment comes in. Peo­ple risk man­age­ment is sim­ply the strate­gic and wholis­tic view of com­pli­ance. It’s real­ly all about the end-to-end sto­ry; it’s how we deal with all the things that hap­pen in the employ­ee life­cy­cle in a way that min­i­mizes risk while max­i­miz­ing employ­ee engagement.

It’s all about how we antic­i­pate risk, reduce the like­li­hood of risk events, and deal with them when they do hap­pen. The best com­pa­nies proac­tive­ly respond to risk in an eth­i­cal way that not just pro­tects us from lia­bil­i­ty, but also builds trust and respect among the workforce.

People Risk Management: An Example

Let’s say a new sex­u­al harass­ment law goes into effect in your state. This trig­ger­ing event (the new law) is just part of the issue. You need to take a big-pic­ture view of the entire sit­u­a­tion. You’ll need to know what you should antic­i­pate, what you need to do, and how to eval­u­ate your efforts to make sure you’ve addressed every risk.

Because this law is relat­ed to how peo­ple behave, in addi­tion to admin­is­tra­tive require­ments, it can be dif­fi­cult to under­stand how to simul­ta­ne­ous­ly address both the risk of harass­ment and the risk of fail­ing to com­ply with each aspect of the law. You also need to incor­po­rate your response to this issue into your com­pa­ny cul­ture to demon­strate that you care about pro­tect­ing not just the com­pa­ny, but also your employees.

When engage­ment and com­pli­ance issues inter­sect, and you do both well, you cre­ate a cul­ture that says you deal with stuff in a clear way, but also you pro­tect your­self from legal risks. It’s a dou­ble benefit.


by Lar­ry Dunavin
Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on