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Overcoming the Compliance Struggles in HR and Safety Departments

Human resources and occupational health & safety (OHS) departments often find themselves squeezed between demands of globalization and competition for a quality workforce and the inherent lack of knowledge of how to make available technologies work in their favor. For many officers at these departments, the unstoppable march of IT and web technologies is frequently seen as a trend which benefits only the company's productivity or IT performance, which is not exactly their primary domain. Thus, issues related to compliance training and education are left in the hands of professionals who try to approach them in old-fashioned ways without much success. What we need instead is a new generation of HR and OHS managers who know how to approach compliance with technology by their side as their ally, instead of a treating it as a daunting terra incognita.

Compliance Is Not Only a Corporate Concern

Gig economy is on the rise. A literal army of temporary employees, consultants and freelancers is inflating the workforce numbers every year, while often treading in a legal grey zone when it comes to compliance with various regulations dealing with induction, orientation, health & safety at work and training. The c-suite heading modern companies certainly love this type of work arrangement, with 83% of them saying that they plan to increase the number of these temporary employees in their workforce. At the same time, there is a misconception that this sort of fluid employment is limited to 'younger' industries such as IT, while it actually has impact on more traditional industries such as construction.
In the case of the latter, for example, the lack of compliance with OHS regulations can lead to downright lethal outcomes and financially disastrous repercussions for companies themselves. What is often misunderstood here is that the issue of compliance works two ways, i.e. the managers at relevant HR and OHS departments need to understand that compliance is not only related to employers, but to workers themselves. So, corporate compliance is only one part of the story, in the segment that it is not sufficient for the company to nominally comply with the regulations regarding the safety of their employees. No, even more important is to make sure that all employees, temporary workers and contractors alike, are made to clearly understand these regulations and receive proper training for making them fully compliant with these. This is where the technology steps in.

Do Not Ignore Existing Technological Resources

Yet, remaining compliant can be burdensome for businesses, particularly when the HR and safety departments have to contend with an increasingly complex landscape when it comes to defining the employees' status. At least 20% of these managers said that they feel challenged by the existence of work models that go beyond the standard 9-to-5 they are used to, such as flexible work hours and job sharing. At the same time, this personnel is often burdened with tasks related to checking the employees' visas, qualifications, certificates etc.
Yet, one of the areas in which ensuring compliance can be assisted by technology is already readily available to HR and OHS professionals - existing workforce management software. Let us recall that these platforms include various PC and mobile programs used to keep track of staff's working hours and payroll, which is particularly important for companies that pay on a per-hour basis. With a few modifications, this type of software can be actually transformed into a one-stop-shop for screening employees in terms of delivering compliance training and keeping records of what has been done in that field. This system can also ensure that employees are given unobstructed access to all the documents detailing the company's compliance policies in the fields such as health & safety, equal pay and overtime. This type of software is usually readily available at companies and there is no reason to reinvent the wheel here if an existing technology can streamline compliance procedures.

Web and Mobile Tech Automates Compliance Management

Still, ensuring the safety compliance of both employees and contractors/suppliers starts by being aware of the diversity of areas which this field encompasses. This includes induction, incident/injury management and reporting, performance management, monitoring mental fitness, adherence to policies and procedures and preventing workplace incidents and insurance claims. Staying on top of staff compliance means being ready to constantly monitor it, as it isn't a one-time process but rather an ongoing one.
So, what type of technology is readily available here and now, if one wants to have access to the workforce at any moment, while providing employees and contractors with a constantly updated source of information on compliance? The answer lies in pairing the omnipresence of mobile devices in form of tablets and phones your employees already use, with their connectivity and ability to deliver two-way information instantly. This means that web and mobile technologies can help you automate and streamline all aspects of compliance management. This includes compliance orientation and education programs, permanent training of employees and contractors on workplace topics and organization of compliance refresher courses.

Compliance Programs Can Be Fun, Too

Several advantages offered by mobile technologies in this segment are immediately self-evident. First of all, the ability to deliver and exchange information on potential hazards in real time means being able to prevent accidents at the rates which are unheard of among those who still rely on and pen & paper and spreadsheets. For example, contractors are able to receive updated visual and textual information on the area they find themselves in. Even when inevitable incidents happen, submission of appropriate forms for the records is much easier via phones and these documents can be readily enriched with images and videos related to an accident.
Based on the data gathered in this manner, it's much simpler to design appropriate compliance checklist and have it delivered to each worker via their mobile phones. In addition to easier delivery of compliance policies, mobile platform allows for their simplified and more personalized design and presentation based on who needs to be presented with it. Online compliance programs which are readily accessible on employee's devices need to be broken down into smaller segments and accompanied by attractive visuals and narrative-based style of information delivery. With the help of contemporary tech, these policies do not have to be sterile blocks of text anymore and even inserting an animation or two or peppering the text with humor can go a long way in creating a culture of compliance, care and safety at the company level.

Ensuring compliance with an increasingly convoluted web of regulations in an equally complex business environment is no small feat today. Many HR and OHS managers are unprepared for the challenges posed by modern-day gig and fluid employment economy and choose to ignore the best resource they can rely on in facing them - mobile and online technologies. These platforms can be easily repurposed to accommodate for the direct delivery of appropriate compliance and safety policies to workers who already carry their mobile devices with them all the time. This comes with the added ability to use this tech for faster accident reporting and provision of personalized and attractively designed training materials on compliance. Merging the technology with a new approach to increasingly fluid workforce management will help the companies make the compliance culture a living and breathing feature of a modern day workplace.

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