Managing risk to promote growth

Managing risk to promote growth

Managing risk

 Managing risk is critical for maximising growth. A well-prepared business is in a better position to make informed decisions and take advantage of opportunities. Many risks could threaten the success of the business. Social, economic, technological and regulatory risks could restrict your company’s potential growth and result in higher opportunity costs. 

 Managing risk allows your organisation to adapt to the rapidly changing business environment and gain a competitive advantage. Companies are always competing to innovate the next big hit or update current services to attract new customers. However, every single activity involved in growing your business comes with risk. The risk comes either from the opportunity not having a positive outcome or other elements associated with it, such as the risk of cyber-attacks when operating online. 

 

 Managing risk is not simple

 When growing, managing risk becomes more complicated. The risk management process needs to be adapted to technological changes, increasing profits and increasing staff demand to enable growth. Risk management focuses on identifying, assessing and mitigating threats. Managing risk to promote growth could include:

-Keeping track of costs

-Managing expansion

-Staying up to date with technology

-Monitoring fraud

-Evaluating risk appetite

-Meeting customer demands

 

Keeping track of costs 

 When growing, it is likely that revenue will increase and the business will look to expand or invest more money into certain areas. Managing risk during this period can be more complicated. Managers may underestimate the costs related to those decisions or they might focus less on reducing costs. Even with high revenue, cost control is essential to achieve the maximised profit. The inability to reduce costs could potentially lead to slower growth and missed opportunities. To manage this risk, businesses should prioritise cost reduction and control even during periods of increased revenue. 

 A cost-benefit analysis is important when deciding whether or not an investment is worth it. A cost-benefit analysis looks at all the benefits associated with a decision against the costs required to implement that decision. A cost analysis, along with effective budgeting and forecasting can prevent an overly positive outlook. Instead, the company will have a realistic idea of how its costs impact its profit and can develop strategies to minimise them. Just because the business is doing well now, it does not mean it will continue to grow at the same rate in the future so management needs to be prepared. 

 

Managing expansion

 Expansions need a lot of planning and collaboration. Many things within the business will change which could potentially leave the company vulnerable. Tasks and budgets have to be created after speaking to employees to encourage better solutions and gain a clearer idea of what details need to be addressed. New policies may need to be created and individuals could potentially change positions within the company to ensure that the right person is chosen for the job. 

 Growth could impact work culture which is why employers need to prioritise how the staff are being treated during the whole process. Are they feeling heard? Are they satisfied with their work or are they overwhelmed? Management must listen so the objectives developed during the growth period are taking staff into consideration. 

 As a business is growing, more staff may be needed. Understaffed companies are at risk for a lower quality service and flawed production of goods as there are not enough employees to complete every time by the deadline. Managing risk during expansion involves identifying areas where more staff members are needed and which departments need updated infrastructure. This will ensure that all operations are running smoothly and efficiently and not stalling growth. 

 

Staying up to date with technology

 Technological trends are one of the main drivers of business change. If the business fails to keep up with technological advances then they are more likely to lose a percentage of their customers and reduce workplace efficiency. Customers are always looking for the next best thing and what is the most affordable and innovative product or service. If the organisation adopts the latest technology, it will be more efficient in daily tasks and research and development. 

 The company should look at what technology the competitors are using and assess the risks associated with not upgrading. Why are new devices needed? How can they promote growth? Every change should be implemented carefully to ensure that it aligns with organisational objectives. 

 If new equipment is not seen as necessary, then training the employees is an effective way to implement new knowledge into decision-making. This is a step companies neglect but the commitment to training and development can be beneficial not only in the short term but the long term as well. It can lead to sustainable growth and greater performance management. This will also minimise the risk of high employee turnover as employees are given opportunities to advance their careers. 

 It is important to remember that staying up to date with technology has its own risks. Management may not plan appropriately the implementation of new technology, which can lead to unrealistic goals and disorganised training. Staff need to be given enough notice and the skills necessary to manage the technological advancements. Risk assessments need to be conducted to detect any potential risks with adopting new technology and strategies need to be prepared to ensure that everything is rolled out smoothly. If the new technology is not properly implemented, then the staff may accidentally misuse it or management may become complacent, even though it is a task that requires continuous improvement.

Managing risk

Monitoring fraud

 The most difficult part of managing risk in an organisation involves monitoring various departments, conducting risk assessments and audits that can detect fraud or other illegal activities. Growth leaves the business more vulnerable to fraud as many things emerge that require attention. As resources are focused towards sustaining the increasing business success and more employees are hired, there are many gaps that criminals can take advantage of. 

 All companies can be victims of fraud, no matter their size. When an organisation grows, higher invoices are expected, more money is allocated towards different services but in the worst case scenario, the business never receives what it pays for. Instead, the money goes to the employee. As Apple was growing between 2011 and 2018, an employee defrauded it of more than $17 million USD. This case highlights how no one is really safe. It might seem impossible for someone in your company to act with ill intent but it is more common than one might think. 

 Managing risk, especially fraud, can be complicated. Even when expanding, the organisation should have a clear strategy on how to handle fraudulent activities and high fraud awareness. It should have systems in place to detect illegal actions and a team dedicated to uncovering such activities. A whistleblower line is encouraged as employees may not feel confident enough to report misconduct directly to a manager. 

 

Meeting customer demands

 Increased sales of a certain product or service may give the business the illusion that customers will keep buying the product without them needing to modify anything. However, the opposite is usually what happens. During growth, the business is managing old and new customers. For many individuals, this stage will be the first time they interact with the company. Not emphasising customer service and neglecting to monitor customer behaviour, sentiment and expectations could be detrimental for the entity. The business needs to listen to customers and have them as a priority as they are the ones who are enabling them to grow.

 Managing risk hugely involves managing customers. What customers say about the business, what they want from the product or service and what is necessary to retain them are three key areas the company should focus on. Growth does not mean that the company should relax and or let its guard down. There is always the risk of a customer having a bad experience. When customers have a positive experience, usually 1 or 2 people will hear about it. When a customer has a negative experience, they will share it with at least 5 people and discourage them from trying out a brand. As a result, a lot of the market share is lost to competitors. 

 

Evaluating risk appetite

 To achieve continuous improvement, the managers should assess both the external and internal environment for risks. Managing risk requires the company to know what its risk appetite is. Risk appetite refers to the amount of risk that a company is ready to accept to achieve its objectives. Risk is not something that can be avoided when operating a business. Every decision carries some level of risk and businesses should not let low risks deter them from pursuing growth. Therefore, analysing the risk appetite is important in order to make better and well informed strategic decisions. 

 Stakeholders should be involved in discussing risk as usually employees are the ones that see the impact threats have on the company. When explaining risk appetite, management should try to simplify terminology so everyone can understand what is being said. A collaborative approach can assist the business in determining how risk appetite can affect its goals and growth and contribute to a better long-term strategy. Higher risk appetite means that the organisation will be able to take riskier opportunities as they have the ability to do. A low risk appetite indicates that the company should limit riskier opportunities which could potentially slow down its growth. 

 

Please note

 Managing risk to enable greater growth is easier said than done. There are many areas that will require a lot of attention and the business will need a lot of resources to manage its success in a sustainable way. Every business will need to retain its productivity levels and increase them while minimising costs. 

 At Polonious we understand the stresses that come with operating a business. That is why we offer our customers a high-quality service that allows them to fill out online risk assessments to save time and money. Our clients manage all risks in one place and can link all relevant assets or details to a specific case so they can keep track of it easier. Polonious can simplify your processes and automate certain procedures so you can focus on your core responsibilities. If you want to know more about how we can help you grow while managing risk, reach out to us

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How to handle an online investigation

How to handle an online investigation

online investigation

 An online investigation is becoming more and more popular as technology is taking over. Since times are changing, employees have moved to remote work and many now use their own devices when they come into the office. Nowadays, 75% of employees use their personal mobile phones for work-related purposes. It highlights the big shift from company-provided equipment to staff using their own personal devices for their work tasks. Technology, and employees bringing their own devices to work, have led to the majority of investigations having online elements. This could mean the evidence being stored online, or that the action investigated happened through the internet. 

 

The complexity of an online investigation

 Whenever we need information, we go online. However, the place that people look to is constantly changing. People used to just Google their questions but now internet users go on YouTube, Instagram or LinkedIn, depending on what they are looking for. For this reason, an online investigation could be very complex. The places investigators will need to look at for evidence are expanding and they need to keep track of emerging social media and spaces where employees interact. 

 BYOD can initially seem beneficial; fewer costs for the employer and less monitoring for the employee. What happens when employees misuse devices? 

 Employees can be bullied at work but outside of work hours or locations. This can still count towards workplace harassment as it is connected to work. If staff complete their job duties outside of the office, they still need to comply with company policies and procedures. Just because they are not at the office, it does not mean that the rules do not apply to them. A lot of companies have developed BYOD policies to protect the organisation and its employees from incidents related to remote work, misuse of the device or situations outside work hours.  

 In an online investigation, the people involved in the incident may be in different locations. This will require interviews to be conducted remotely and evidence gathering can take longer than what is usually required. 

 To assist our clients with their online investigation, Polonious has Simple2Connect integration which allows investigators to schedule and record interviews. Our customers can rewatch the interview if they need to and write down any points they might have missed.  Interviewees are given a link via text and they receive all the necessary details to join the call. Setting up the interview is very easy as the interviewer can set the date, start time, end time and description through Polonious. Once the interview is finished, the file is attached to the relevant case so investigators can access all files from one single place. 

 

How to approach the online investigation

 An online investigation should be treated as any other investigation. Confidentiality needs to be prioritised and managers need to prevent any information from leaking to external parties. With most components of the investigation taking place online, there are increased risks of compromised emails and outside participants joining private meetings. Some issues are:

-Protecting investigators from hackers

-Managing remote interviews

-Keeping emails safe

-Mitigating risks 

 

Protecting investigators from hackers

 Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly popular. Many major companies have been victims of cybercrime and this is a reminder that we can never be too relaxed or lenient when it comes to cybersecurity. In an investigation, a lot of sensitive information is gathered by the investigator. As most evidence will be stored online, the investigator needs to be aware of their actions and activities and avoid keeping all copies in one device. 

 They must refrain from using public Wifi, especially if they do not have a strong VPN. One of the biggest mistakes people make is leaving their house with their Wifi setting still on. Hackers usually have public networks in certain places where devices connect automatically since no password is required. While the device is connected, it is vulnerable to being compromised.

 Investigators should ensure that their Wifi is off when leaving their house or work. They should also turn off their data when they are not using them. Using a VPN is highly recommended but investigators should stay away from private or public networks they are not familiar with even when using a VPN. This is because a VPN does not guarantee anonymity, it only offers protection up to a certain level. It is advisable that investigators use different devices for work matters and different devices for personal use. This will not indicate to criminals that they might be an investigator if their internet usage has been exposed. 

 

Managing remote interviews

 During COVID, instances of third parties joining virtual meetings increased. One way to avoid this incident is to set a password for the interview that only the parties involved know. It is better to share the password verbally rather than in a written format. This decreases the chances of the link and the password falling into the wrong hands. If the program you are using allows it, set the emails that can join the meeting or set that organisation-linked emails can only join. 

 Ensure that the employees join from a quiet place and they have a working camera so the investigator can see their facial expressions and body language. While it is beneficial to record the meeting, the interviewer should seek consent from the interviewee. If it has been decided beforehand that the meeting should not be recorded the interviewer should clearly emphasise to the employee that they are not allowed to record it either. 

 In the case that screen sharing is required, the investigator must not have other information open, only data relevant to that specific interview. Notes from previous interviews or emails should be closed.

online investigation

Keeping emails safe

 Sometimes, an online investigation is the result of a phishing email. Email filters should be implemented to protect the investigation and those involved in it. Recently, a new approach hackers have adopted is to create an email address that is very similar to that of the CEO of the company. They then send emails to employees and telling them to reply as they have an urgent task to give them. In some cases, it asks employees to send money. If there is an investigation underway and people respond to these emails it could lead to sensitive data being leaked to third parties. 

 It is crucial that employees are warned about these kinds of incidents so they are more careful when they receive a suspicious email. They should be trained on how to recognise sophisticated attacks and report them immediately. An additional measure investigators can take is to tell everyone to encrypt the content that is sent through emails. Using a password to protect evidence can make it harder for outsiders to access it. Again, it is advisable that the password is shared verbally rather than in writing. 

 The organisation must make it mandatory that all accounts have two-factor authentication to increase their security. Employers should also emphasise the importance of strong passwords and preferably the use of passwords they are not using for other platforms or services. 

 

Managing risks

 During an online interview, a lot of the evidence will be social media posts, remote interviews and recordings or email content. On social media, the information can be edited. Plug-ins, extensions and software can be very useful in providing information on when a post was published, when the image was taken and if the post had been edited. The investigator has to find the tools specific to the incident that can assist them in finding previously edited or deleted social media posts. It will prevent people from lying and provide the evidence needed to establish credibility

 While a harassment investigation is underway, communication between the main parties should be terminated to prevent further issues. If it does not have to do with harassment, then it is preferred that any communication is done through written means. This will create an accountable environment where people will not be able to allege that ‘he said, she said’ incidents took place. 

 If it is discovered through the online investigation that there are gaps in company policies concerning investigation procedures, BYOD and handling of complaints, these policies should be updated. This will help the company improve and assist in preventing similar situations or generating better results if another incident occurs. 

 

A few things to remember 

 Like it was mentioned before, an online investigation should be treated as any other investigation. All evidence must be stored securely and the investigator must conduct a legal, fair and ethical online investigation. It is important that an experienced investigator is chosen who is familiar with online investigations so privacy laws are not breached.

 If employees are uncertain about specific parts of the process, the investigator and the managers are responsible for clearing up any confusion. Overall, an online investigation may be riskier but most information is now stored online so it is a matter of being safe and staying updated with the latest security measures. 

 Polonious takes information security seriously. We are ISO 27001 certified and we undergo regular audits to that check our compliance with the framework and reinforce our commitment to providing a high-quality service. Polonious offers a place for employees to upload all evidence securely without the need for emails. Parties in the investigation only have access to information that is relevant to them and they receive updates on the progress of the case automatically. Do you want to learn more about how we can help you with your online investigation? We are happy to show you

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5 Better Ways to Measure Employee Performance

5 Better Ways to Measure Employee Performance

The way we measure employee performance has seen major changes in recent years as the organisational structure of companies continues to evolve and shift, with hybrid and contingent workforces becoming the new norm. The effectiveness of traditional performance management has seen a resultant decline due to its static, linear and top-down structure which can be excessively subjective and unhelpful in gleaming the intended data and information.

In alignment with the changes in the business world, employers must adapt their employee performance strategies to that of an ongoing and collaborative dialogue that captures a more accurate picture of an employee’s productivity and efficiency. There are many alternative performance indicators available and employers should use a combination of different options which align with both the purpose of their performance reviews and the operational style of the company. 

This article will delve into methods of tracking employee performance in an efficient and objective manner that benefits both the employee and employer.

Traditional employee performance metrics can fall short in effectiveness.

Effective tools for measuring employee performance

1. 360-Degree Feedback

The 360-degree feedback method is an innovative and effective employee performance metric that is used by over 85% of all Fortune 500 companies. It presents an alternative approach to the static feedback approaches of traditional performance reviews by gathering not only the input of an employee’s manager but several other parties that they engage with as part of their work.

Utilising the feedback of coworkers, clients and other professionals who witness the performance of the employee helps to reduce any single-party bias and provides a more detailed picture of an employee’s current abilities, skill gaps and growth potential. 

The implementation of the 360-degree feedback tool is also accompanied by additional benefits such as strengthening team dynamics and offering insight into emerging work trends.

However, It is important to remember that getting feedback from multiple parties does not necessarily mean you should be asking the same questions from all of them. Depending on their role, each person will be able to contribute a different aspect of the employee’s overall performance – for example, asking a coworker about an employee’s ability to meet deadlines is not helpful since they don’t actually report task completion to the coworker. 

2. 180-degree feedback

The 180-degree feedback takes on the core elements of the 360-degree feedback metric but narrows input of an employee’s performance to that of their direct co-workers and managers. It is a simpler version of the 360-degree feedback metric that, whilst not being as holistic as the former, can help save valuable time, money and resources.

Furthermore, your aim in examining employee performance may align better with an approach that has limited input as too many voices and opinions can sometimes muddle feedback and ultimately reduce clarity in the information you seek. The 180-degree approach to measuring employee performance is popular amongst those whose roles do not require people management or direct engagement with customers or clients.

3. Graphic Rating Scales

Graphic rating scales (also referred to as Likert scales) make use of a numbered scale on which employers are able to rate the performance of an employee in terms of both behavioural traits and work quality.

For example, ratings could be made on teamwork, punctuality, autonomy, growth potential, job knowledge, leadership, responsibility and accountability. The pre-determined numbers form a sequential range where the highest value is typically indicative of excellence in that area and the lowest value signifies a severe lack of the trait.

Obtaining quantitative data in this form enables employers to clearly identify performance levels and make adjustments that will help bridge an employee’s skill gaps. The scale can also be used to understand the different strengths and weaknesses of employees and maximise their potential accordingly. 

One metric of measuring employee performance are graphic rating scales.

Graphic rating scales can be used in two main ways when evaluating employee performance; discrete and continuous.  A discrete scale uses responses that are specific and ranked; for example, a scale of 1 to 5 could have ‘very poor, ‘needs improvement’, ‘average’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’ as its potential values.

In the continuous scale method, a set of two extreme values (typically opposing in nature) are placed on either end of a scale. From there, a manager then ranks the employee’s performance at a point along the scale that they feel represents the employee’s performance of that trait or behaviour.

4. The 9-box Grid 

The 9-box grid method is a way of measuring employee performance by plotting their work quality and potential across nine data points.

It serves well as a visual tool and capitalises on two of the key factors managers pay attention to when evaluating the work of an employee, the level of their current performance and their growth potential for the future. Based on their rating in each of these dimensions, they are organised into one of the nine categories which range from “Low potential/low performance” to “High potential/high performance”.

This categorisation can provide you with insight into how you can cater to each employee – personnel within the ‘high performance/low potential’ category are typically best suited to their current role and should remain there, whilst those with ‘low performance/moderate to high potential’ may benefit from being placed in a role better united to their skills or additional training and support to help realise hidden potential.

Employees in the ‘high performance/high potential’ category are probably your most considerable talents and investing in them as they progress through the company ranks will likely prove beneficial. You should also pay attention to those with ‘low performance/low potential’ to identify any issues and figure out how to guide their improvement.

When utilising this approach, it’s wise to keep in mind that whilst it can be useful for managing employees with different capabilities and potential, the purpose isn’t to put your workers into metaphorical boxes and label them a certain way. The real goal is to understand how you can build your development strategies and help guide employees to realise their potential and support their growth.

5. Management by Objectives (MBO)

Management by objectives is a method through which the employee and the manager are able to meet in the middle between the organisation’s best interests and the employee’s personal sims.

It works by having the pair discuss and agree on individualised performance-based objectives and creating a plan to achieve them within a certain time period (subjective to change). It’s an effective way of limiting the subjective bias that occurs when managers typically appraise employee performance because a key part of goal setting includes ensuring that they are measurable and trackable. 

The MBO method allows for regular feedback, tailors to individual needs and fosters communications between the company and employees.  However, it can also be excessively target driven and prioritise the mere completion of objectives rather than the process of getting there which can push employees to take shortcuts and undermine the purpose of MBO. Being aware of this and ensuring that you work with your employees to set realistic goals, monitor progress and adapt them as needed can help prevent these issues from hindering growth.

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Measuring employee performance is one of the central tasks of an employer and a difficult one to do, regardless of the type of organisation you may operate. The method you choose for appraising your employees’ performance will depend on your organisational needs, but by being open to trialing different approaches you are more likely to eventually find the right option for your workplace. 

6 Steps to Take After a Safety Incident in the Workplace

6 Steps to Take After a Safety Incident in the Workplace

The International Labour Organization estimates that each year, there are approximately 340 million workplace-related safety incidents that occur, and whilst the ratio of these events differs amongst industries, many employers will likely have to deal with such an event in their workplaces over the course of their careers. 

A safety incident in the workplace is classified as any occurrence in which an employee, or any person within the workplace, is faced with a serious threat to their well-being and/or safety. It’s important to note here that an injury doesn’t actually need to occur for an event to be labelled as a safety incident- the risk of harm itself can be considered enough cause. This is important because a serious response to a near-miss can prevent injuries from happening in the future.

All employers should be prepared to handle  a workplace safety incident

As leaders within the workplace, all employers should be prepared to deal with safety incidents and ensure that the health and well-being of employees are prioritised. One way to achieve this is to have regular workplace safety risk assessments that uncover potential causes of harm and allow them to be addressed before they cause any consequences.

Examples of workplace safety incidents

Safety incidents can take on many different forms in the workplace, and knowing what these are can be helpful in allowing you to assess how your organisation is able to minimise their occurrence. 

These can include:

      • Slips, trips and falls
      • Crashes and collisions (i.e. walking into objects) 
      • Exposure to toxic or infectious substances
      • Any major burns 
      • Physical fights at work resulting in injury
      • Contact with hazardous chemicals
      • Road accidents whilst on work duty 
      • Muscle and joint strain (e.g. from lifting, pushing or pulling objects)
      • Being hit by falling objects
      • Repetitive strain injury from workplace duties
      • Serious cuts or lacerations to the skin
      • Exposure to dangerous levels of noise

How to deal with a safety incident in the workplace?

When a safety incident does occur, the way you respond will depend heavily on its context, the type of injury/threat and any existing company policy. However, there are some steps that should be taken in all workplace accidents regardless of the event and these are detailed below.

1. Ensure the impacted employee(s) are safe 

In any safety incident within the workplace, the first priority should be the injured or impacted employee’s immediate needs. This may vary depending on the safety incident that occurred and you will have to determine what type of care is needed. If there is an injury, medical attention should be provided as soon as possible and if an injury is severe, emergency services should be contacted immediately so that the right attention is provided. 

The safety and health of the employee must come first before you take any other steps and this is part of an employer’s duty to their workers. If you are not at the location of the incident, you should make your way there as soon as possible and if this is not feasible, you should have someone appointed on your behalf to do so.

2. Secure the incident site

It is important to preserve and secure the incident site for a variety of reasons. At the time of the incident, it is in the best interest of everyone involved that access to the site is limited only to those that need to be there so no one else is injured and personnel are able to carry out their tasks without disruption.

It is also very useful in the aftermath when a workplace investigation may need to be initiated as an incident site that is as untouched as much as possible (excluding changes that were necessary for safety purposes) will allow for more accurate information and reporting. 

3. Report to relevant authorities

Depending on where you live and your state’s WHS laws, you may have a regulator to which you need to report incidents that meet the criteria for severity. 

These are often referred to as ‘notifiable incidents’ and typically include:

  • the death of an employee (or any other person within the workplace premises)
  • an injury or illness that causes serious harm to the individual  
  • a ‘dangerous incident’ that poses a safety risk to employees regardless of the occurrence of actual injury 

Additionally, you will also need to make sure that the relevant team members, management and family are notified.

a workplace safety incident should be addressed immediately
4. Make sure you know what happened 

Employers will need to make a series of important decisions following the incident, and having a thorough and detailed understanding of what occurred may require you to ask witnesses to share their accounts.

Gathering witness testimonies as soon as possible (ideally within 24-48 hours) can help improve the reliability and accuracy of provided accounts. One way you can achieve this is by conducting investigative interviews with everyone involved to ensure that you have a well-rounded picture of the event and make more informed decisions about how to proceed.

5. Complete the incident report

In the aftermath of a workplace safety incident, the completion of the incident report is a crucial and necessary step. The purpose of an incident report is to capture the facts of the event in as much detail as possible and it is vital to any internal investigations, legal requirements, regulatory bodies and external authorities. They can also be used for insurance purposes whereby completing an incident report form as efficiently as possible can help expedite any claims made by impacted parties.

Every safety incident should be documented as thoroughly as possible as they play an important role in maintaining a safe work culture by helping prevent similar occurrences, enabling improvements in workplace safety and allowing the organisation to protect itself financially and legally.

6. Develop a return-to-work program 

When safety incidents occur, the impacted parties may have to temporarily step back from their duties for a multitude of reasons (e.g. recovery). The incident may also change how they are able to perform at work. As a result, coming back to the workplace can present a host of new challenges and be a source of stress and anxiety. A return-to-work program helps to combat this by enabling the individual to return to work through a transition period so they are able to regain their footing  at a slower but more comfortable pace.

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Whilst employers can do their best to ensure that safety is prioritised, addressed and taken very seriously, safety incidents are not always preventable. To prepare for such circumstances, it’s important to have steps in place that you can take to ensure the event is handled professionally.

The way you choose to respond will differ according to your personal approach and the safety incident itself but being prepared and having a process already in place will contribute significantly towards an efficient and effective response that minimises consequences.

The role of a compliance officer

The role of a compliance officer

compliance officer

 A compliance officer is responsible for managing compliance within an organisation and ensuring that everyone within the business follows the relevant laws and regulations along with the company policies. An organisation has to comply with internal and external obligations to maximise its growth potential. While some policies may not be mandatory, the business should focus on creating a positive work environment where employees feel heard and compliance is reinforced. A business may choose to comply with additional frameworks like ISO 9001 to highlight its commitment to quality management. 

 Polonious is certified with ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 as we prioritise the quality of the service we provide and the security of our customers’ information. We ensure that the data entrusted to us is in safe hands and we comply with strict standards to prevent any potential leaks. Confidentiality is a big part of our work and during every step of an investigation, we want our customers to focus on their core responsibilities while we provide them with an efficient case management system. 

 

The role of the compliance officer

 A compliance officer needs to collaborate with employees to understand potential compliance risks that could affect the company. Some common compliance risks include:

-Flawed data management

-Undertraining

-Workplace health and safety

-Regulatory uncertainty

 

Flawed data management 

 If your business works with sensitive information, it is crucial that the compliance officer is aware of the laws and regulations that surround data handling and storage. Sensitive data includes payment details, home addresses and medical records. The company has a duty to their customers and their employees to protect any data that is provided to them. A company with an ineffective data management system is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and privacy breaches. These can be damaging to the organisation’s growth and reputation as a non-compliant company is not seen as trustworthy. 

 

Undertraining 

 Employees need to be aware of the laws, regulations, policies and standards they need to comply with. The compliance officer along with the HR team should ensure that all new employees are made aware of their responsibilities and understand all relevant rules they have to adhere to. Failing to train employees effectively could have severe consequences for the business. If employees are not educated on how to spot risks and avoid them or mitigate them it could lead to increased costs for the company. Recently, Interserve was fined 4.4 million pounds after an employee downloaded a phishing email that allowed hackers to steal the information of 113,000 employees. It left staff vulnerable to identify theft and financial fraud.

 The investigation found that Interserve failed to comply with data protection laws. Their software was outdated and their employees lacked training. The lack of training reduced employee awareness of potential compliance risks and cyberattacks. 

 Undertraining employees could result in them not knowing how to follow a procedure or how to produce a product that follows quality standards. This could carry many disadvantages for the company as it jeopardises the success of the brand and customer loyalty. 

 

Work health and safety

 A compliance officer needs to ensure that the working environment adheres to the rules of the country the business operates in. If the company provides employees with an unsafe working environment, then staff are left vulnerable to injuries and accidents that may be fatal. The compliance officer has to work with managers and employees to create a hazard-free workplace so employers are not in danger. Non-compliance with these laws not only threatens the physical health of staff, but it also threatens their mental health as they are dealing with uncertainty and higher levels of stress. 

 Another non-compliant action is the refusal to follow laws and policies concerning work behaviour. Employees need to be trained to understand the consequences of harassing or bullying other staff members. It is not only a compliance risk but an ethical issue as well. 

 

Regulatory uncertainty 

 Regulatory uncertainty occurs when the business is not being updated on law modifications and changes to the external environment. It may be that managers do not fully understand a law that is being passed or how it applies to the company. The compliance officer is responsible for keeping up with new policies and making sure that everyone in the company understands what it means for the business.

 If they are unsuccessful in informing employees, it could lead to misunderstandings between workers and between the business and its customers.

compliance officer

Attributes of a successful compliance officer

 Being a compliance officer is not an easy job. It carries a lot of responsibility and a great idea of what vulnerabilities the business is exposed to. They need to conduct regular risk assessments and oversee internal compliance investigations. They have to assess if every department is compliant with external and internal requirements and assist in the training of employees. 

So what makes someone a great compliance officer? Beyond understanding laws, a compliance officer must have the following:

-Good interpersonal skills 

-Ethics

-Analytical skills and attention to detail

-Problem-solving skills

 

Good interpersonal skills

 Compliance officers need to connect with people and know how to share information in a way that everyone understands and remembers. It is not enough to just say something. It is necessary that the delivery can be easily remembered by employees so next time they undertake an activity, they know what they can and cannot do. People may not recognise why they cannot take a specific action which is why great communication skills are crucial in explaining the issues involved in greater detail. 

 If they notice an error or a non-compliant action, they need to be careful with how they will approach the situation. The compliance officer needs to be considerate of the person’s feelings – maybe they did something wrong by accident – but at the same time they need to be strict and ensure that the same mistake does not happen again. It is a delicate matter to call someone out on an error so the compliance officer needs to be confident but empathetic. 

 

Ethics

 An ethical compliance officer will be less likely to lie and will value honesty. Honesty is an integral part of compliance management as it reduces the possibility of compliance officers joining unlawful activities. Ethical individuals will report wrongdoings to the right person promptly and will come up with strategies to prevent similar behaviour from occurring again. 

 Businesses are more likely to rely on an individual who is ethical as they are more committed to keeping the company safe and enforcing laws and regulations. Managers will be more certain that non-compliant behaviour will not be covered up for personal reasons or biases. 

 

Analytical skills and attention to detail

 A compliance officer needs to look at numerous situations and risk assessments. Therefore, it is important that they possess analytical skills that will allow them to interpret what they see into clear and concise information. If a new policy has been created, they should know what changes need to be made and where to guarantee that the business remains compliant. 

 Attention to detail is also crucial in analyses as there are many patterns or problem areas that may signify a bigger issue may be the root cause. If small errors go unnoticed, it could leave the business vulnerable and compliance risk will increase. 

 

Problem-solving skills

 After a compliance officer completes their analysis, they need to decide what the solution will be to the situation they are facing. Good problem-solving skills require an individual to be creative, analytical and innovative. This can lead to them looking at the problem from multiple angles and developing different ideas for the same problem.

  Once a solution has been found, it can be monitored and if it is deemed ineffective, a good compliance officer can then find an alternative idea. It is not certain that everything will work the first time but during critical incidents, strong problem-solving skills are essential as there is little room for error. 

 

Final note

 A great compliance officer is hard to find. On top of all the skills already mentioned and the different situations they are responsible for, they need to be open to feedback and a strong leader. Not being afraid of constructive criticism can give the compliance officer many opportunities to improve and learn from their mistakes. Excellent knowledge of laws and regulations, policies and documentation are not enough to be successful. Soft skills are also an essential part of the role.

 At Polonious we prioritise compliance for the safety of our customers and employees. Polonious is trusted by multiple businesses worldwide as we are committed to following the highest international standards and delivering a high-quality service. We are chosen for both internal and external investigations as we automate compliance management and save administration time. Polonious makes it easy to receive case updates and upload all relevant information including videos, images and documents to one place. Do you want to learn more about how we can help you with compliance management? Request a demo and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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5 Advantages of a Contingent Workforce

5 Advantages of a Contingent Workforce

The term ‘contingent workforce’ refers to a labour pool that, alongside permanent employees, also has those that have been hired on temporary contracts for pre-decided amounts of time, often on a project basis.

Contingent workforces have seen major growth in recent decades and in 2015, research conducted by the US Government Accountability Office estimated that over 40% of American workforces were contingent, a figure that has no doubt grown since. The label of contingent worker can be broadly applied to any person who does not operate on the traditional permanent hire process, such as contractors, casual workers, freelancers and independent consultants. 

 

a contingent workforce allows employers to look for talent on a project basis

How did contingent workforces grow popular?

The rise of the contingent workforce is the result of various developments.

Some of these include:

 The rise of the contingent workforce is the result of various developments. Some of these include:

      • Growing struggle with skill shortages and finding employees who are the right fit and have adequate experience
      • More vacancies in companies due to a globally aging population, and as a consequence, an aging workforce
      • Having the ability to create more flexible contracts with contingent workers and keeping up with a competitive global market
      • Traditional views of work changing as more Millennials and Generation Z enter the workforce for the first time and bring with them a shift in perception of the ‘employee’ role.

Benefits of a contingent workforce

1. Greater access to talent

Having a contingent workforce allows employers to gain access to a far wider talent pool that they would not have access to otherwise. These workers can be hired for projects or other company ventures that only require a certain skillset or perhaps to help supplement the work of existing employees during busy periods.

Hiring them permanently may not be sustainable or even necessary due to the nature of the skillset and the company’s operations or in some cases, the individual may be a great fit for the organisation but does not wish to enter a traditional employee contract. In cases such as these, a contingent workforce allows organisations to hire talent that can participate in projects, contribute ideas and valuable skills and simultaneously maintain the best interests of both parties. 

2. Flexible workforce

One of the greatest benefits of contingent workers is the flexibility with which organisations can work with them, which is not always possible when it comes to permanent employees. During times when the company is under duress and needs urgent help, contingent workers can be bought in for the time period and leave once they are no longer necessary to maintain efficiency – the workforce becomes adjustable for employers in terms of size.

It is also flexible in terms of skillsets as companies can have greater percentages of certain types of skillsets when differing projects require them. Flexibility is one of the main reasons that contingent workers choose such a lifestyle for themselves as it allows them to work according to their personal interests, schedule and other goals.

3. Bigger pool of potential candidates 

During hiring periods, the contingent workers you have partnered with before are a great pool of individuals to look into. In the time they spent working with the company, one can determine if the individual is a good fit for the company in terms of their values, their ability to adapt to the employee culture and their general working style and skills.

Hiring these workers when seeking permanent employees provides a far more reliable option as you are already aware of how they operate, their performance, what role they would thrive best in and how to use their skills to the greatest advantage. In comparison, hiring new people can be a longer and more drawn procedure because of the time and effort that goes into assessing if they are a good fit.

4. Financial advantages 

A contingent workforce can also be financially beneficial for companies and a great way to reduce unnecessary costs by limiting the hiring of talent that is somewhat niche in nature to a need-only basis. Hiring talent only when required for a short time period, saves not only the unnecessary cost of finding a permanent worker whose skills will soon no longer serve a purpose to the company, but also the time and resources spent on finding and onboarding a new employee.

Furthermore, because of the difference in the way permanent and contingent workers operate and form contracts, most organisations do not have to pay any benefits to the employee – this can be very effective in reducing costs, in fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in comparison to a permanent worker, companies save about 30% in benefit-related costs. 

5. Highly trained and/or experienced workers

Due to the nature of how they operate, typically on the basis of particular skill sets, contingent workers are likely to be trained, experienced and very proficient at what they do. This is necessary in order for them to succeed as a contingent worker. They also acquire a wide range of experiences that make them able to adapt quickly to your company’s processes and procedures.

In conjunction, these factors minimise the amount of time the organisation has to actually spend onboarding the company. They are able to come in and contribute to the task, be autonomous and work efficiently. A contingent workforce is hence able to reach their aims faster and with fewer mishaps in comparison to a non-contingent workforce which may be required to spend time and money on upskilling current employees or investing in new ones and training them. 

What is contingent workforce management?

Contingent workforce management refers to the policies, practices and culture of a company in regard to contingent workers and how the two parties work together. There are two common approaches to contingent workforce management, inclusive and exclusive. An inclusive management style does not attempt to separate contingent workers when it comes to HR practices and includes them in the same manner as permanent workers. The exclusive style makes a clear separation between the two and in this case, the workers often are not included in HR systems.  

When it comes to best practices, adopting an inclusive style allows for consistency across the employee experience and allows the contingent workforce to benefit from HR processes and systems. Some practices that will help you work towards this include: 

1. Inclusive HR processes

As stated earlier, an exclusive approach to managing a contingent workforce includes those workers from the HR processes and systems that help guide the work experience of permanent employees. HR processes exist to optimise a company’s functioning, improve employee performance, provide consistency in work life and provide expectations around which to shape their performance. Contingent workers are not only unable to take advantage of these processes when they are excluded, but the company itself also has to expend other resources, time and costs in order to cater to them

2. Employee experience 

The employee experience is absolutely vital to the core of a good workforce and plays a significant role in employee satisfaction, irrespective of the type of employment contract they are under. Contingent employees, for as long as they are with the company, should be treated equally and feel included and valued.

A common issue is that due to the nature of their temporary status, they often are left out of important discussions and decisions which can not only be detrimental to the employee experience but also prevent valuable input from being considered. Furthermore, a positive employee experience encourages contingent workers to return for various other company ventures in the future and develop a lasting positive relationship with the organisation. 

contingent workers are growing in number
3. Analysing data 

Because contingent workers are typically only present for a short term, many companies do not include them when examining data related to their employees such as performance management.

This prevents a considerable amount of valuable insight to be lost – the contingent workforce is growing every day, and having your own data to assess how your organisation has changed over time in relation to the contingent workforce, such as employee contributions and performance, allows you to reassess and optimise your current workforce.

It can further allow a company can find out what skillsets it benefits from most and should prioritise, understand how to upskill permanent workers better and enable a more insightful understanding of current trends in the workforce. 

4. Risk management

A key aspect of managing a contingent workforce is also recognising the risks that can accompany it. The process of incoming and outgoing contingent workers can create a greater security threat to the company, particularly in terms of internal attacks, leaks, theft and negligence regarding confidential intellectual property.

All contingent workers should be treated with the same diligence as permanent employees to mitigate the risk of data security and attacks. It should also be ensured that all confidentiality agreements, onboarding processes, background checks etc. are conducted with the same assigned importance.

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As the contingent workforce grows further and alternative employee contracts become even more popular, employers should actively seek to understand how they can best respond and adapt to these changes.

Ultimately, a contingent workforce comes with many benefits for both employers and employees and understanding how to shape your practices around to maximise them, will allow you to strike the right balance in your organisation.

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