Compliance: Putting the "Human" Back into Human Resources

If there’s one trend that has gripped business headlines this year and put HR squarely in the spotlight, it has been the growing concern over compliance issues, particularly safety, diversity/inclusion, and of course, workplace harassment. It’s something I wrote about at the beginning of the year, and it hasn’t gone away. (In fact, we revamped our whitepaper on the topic specifically to better cover this topic.)

Slowly, decision-makers are coming to understand that compliance training can’t be limited to a once-a-year training session and be successful. They are coming to understand that a safe environment is needed along with training, and that there are many, many ways in which we can do better.


They’re beginning to realize that they need to put the “human” back in “Human Resources.”


HR Gets It.

This will not be news to many of the clients we work with on a weekly basis. Many of ej4’s client contacts are in HR, and we’ve found that HR professionals get it. They truly do care about their people and are always frustrated when their efforts at creating a better environment are not fully supported.

What’s Changed.

What has changed is that it is now obvious that the status quo is not enough. In the past, our sales reps noticed that most organizations wanted to spend “the bare minimum” on compliance training. The idea was to hedge against legal risk—and that’s all. If an annual training with a set of antique videos fit the bill, that would be enough for most companies.

Simply “Being In Compliance” is Not Enough.

It should be obvious why this is not enough. Most compliance training focuses on clarifying the law, and corporate policies with regard to the law. Laws about workplace harassment, discrimination, and safety represent the bare minimum of what companies should be doing to create safe, productive environments. That’s because these laws are designed around what is measurable and enforceable by government agencies. When training focuses solely on being in compliance with the law, it will likewise have a minimal effect.

Let’s Get Beyond The Legal. 

Imagine what would happen if we paused and thought about compliance in more than just legal terms. Think of your employees, for example, as people. People with hopes and dreams. People with families, and friends. Imagine if they were a part of your family. Would you want your daughter working at your place of business? Or your neighbor?

When we start thinking in human terms instead of just legal or economic terms, compliance takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes less about liability, and more about atmosphere. It doesn’t just stick employees in front of a video for an hour (or a live lecture, for that matter). It seeks to engage, discuss, and follow up.

Still a Business Decision...of Sorts.

Of course, revamping your compliance training is largely a business decision, and there has to be a business case for it. I’m not asking folks to ignore the bottom line. (I’m the CEO of my company. I get it.) My point is that, when we think of everything in economic terms, including people (especially people?), that’s when problems start.

If you still want to see that business case, I recommend downloading our whitepaper, “Why Compliance Training is More Than a Checkbox.” It has some sobering stats about workplace compliance issues.

For example:

  • Workplace bullying costs U.S. businesses close to $360 billion annually.
  • 48% of employees who experience bullying, as victim or bystander, end up leaving their companies.
Alongside those statistics, this whitepaper provides actionable advice for organizations to do better when it comes to comprehensive compliance training efforts.


We all know it needs to happen. We all know that yes, we can do better.

Companies will be better for it.

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