by Nigel Hilton

All businesses need to follow rules and regulations of some kind. First, there are laws and regulations set out by governments and official bodies, and then there are the procedures and policies that a business decides to impose upon themselves. Both of these are important to follow, although it's likely that only the first type of regulation will have any outside consequences if not complied with. If you want your business to run legally and ethically, ensuring you comply with any relevant laws, as well as your own policies, is a must. You need to oversee the operation of your business to ensure everyone is doing their part to follow the rules.

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Understand the Laws and Regulations That Govern Your Industry

When you first start a business, you need to understand the important laws and regulations that you need to follow. As your business grows, it's essential to keep up with any regulations your business now falls under, as well as any changes that might take place. Different industries might have specific regulations that they are required to follow. For example, those in the medical industry need to follow HIPAA regulations to protect the privacy of their patients. You might need to follow rules on how you handle data, how you handle the products or materials you use, and the steps you take to keep your employees and your customers safe.

Some regulations are essential for any business, while some might become necessary to follow once your business reaches a certain size. Businesses with fewer than 15 employees can often be much more relaxed than those with more than. Some of the regulations you might need to consider include those set out by OSHA on safety and health, anything that falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ACA), and any possible data protection laws. In the US, there are no federal data protection rules, but local regulation or specific regulatory bodies might set out how you are required to handle data. It's also important to consider that all businesses with customers in the EU, regardless of whether they are based in the EU, need to follow new regulations on handling customer data from May 2018.

Failing to follow the correct laws and regulations for your business could have huge consequences. Fines and sometimes even jail time could result from a failure to carry out appropriate procedures. You could lose a lot of money or destroy your business's reputation if you don't follow the rules. Understanding what you need to do to fulfill compliance requirements is the first step. Sometimes this might require a lawyer or other specialist so that you don't miss anything.

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Create Your Own Policies and Procedures

As well as being aware of any regulatory requirements that you need to follow, you might also create your own policies and procedures for your company. Some of these will help you to comply with the law, whereas others might be designed to keep your business running, foster the best working environment, and make sure that your business embodies the values and mission that you espouse. Of course, it's up to you what rules you want to set for your business, outside of anything stipulated by the law or regulatory bodies, but there are a few things you probably want to consider. For example, you want both your staff and your customers to have good experiences and to help make your business as good as it can be.

Make Compliance Training Compulsory

You need everyone who works for you to follow the rules if your business is to be compliant with various rules and regulations. There are some things that everyone will need to know, like how to prevent harassment and avoid bias in the workplace, but there are also some department-specific regulations and policies people will need to know about. Making compliance training compulsory ensures that everyone understands how to conduct themselves at work and the rules they need to follow. Online training courses like those found at https://www.ej4.com/ are an excellent way to deliver training. You can access a complete library of videos on compliance in the workplace so that everyone can learn what they need to know with ease. Delivering training in person can also be useful, especially if you feel like there needs to be more room for discussion or perhaps role play.

Ensure Policies Are Easily Accessible

If you have created policies and procedures for your business, you can't expect people to remember them all at all times. Making them easily accessible to everyone who needs them gives them the chance to refer to them when they're unsure. It's useful to provide the resources for people to check before they carry out a task or to use as a reference while they're doing something. A compendium of all your guidelines and policies is also useful if someone wants to make a complaint or just check to see if someone is doing something inappropriate before they make a complaint. It helps your employees to hold themselves and each other accountable for their actions.

Automate Processes

Automation is helping businesses in a variety of different ways, and it could help you to make compliance within your business more easily manageable. Automating certain processes means that they don't have to be performed manually all the time, and you can reduce the chance of human error. It can also save time, particularly for tasks that need to be completed regularly. Using the right software can automate certain requirements for compliance, or at least notify people that they need to complete particular steps. For example, you might have an application that sends out alerts to people to remind them to do something.

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Use HR Software for Better Compliance

HR software is just one of the ways technology can make compliance easier for your business. With the right software, it's nowhere near as difficult to keep everything organized and keep track of any compliance requirements. HR software can provide you with updated information on what's required, make it easy to complete, store and organized documents, simplify managing payroll and wage or work time requirements, and reduce the number of errors made. Cloud-based software is a great choice if you're looking for software that will stay up to date. It also makes any documents and data easily accessible from anywhere, while also keeping everything secure. Find some great examples of HR software at https://www.softwareadvice.com/hr/.

Hire Staff Just for Compliance

Having dedicated staff who can oversee compliance issues is extremely helpful if you want your business to run smoothly. Of course, there are different types of compliance, so you might want to consider which hires would be most valuable. HR staff can take care of issues relating to employees and employment while having someone who can oversee safety and issues of health and hygiene is often a good idea too. Having a legal team can help you stay on top of legal matters and ensure your business is following the law. Security personnel or IT staff could be responsible for data protection.

Perform Internal Audits

Conducting internal audits of your company will help you stay on top of any compliance issues. By regularly running risk assessments and reviewing the procedures you have in place, you can check that everything is still up to par and see if there are any changes you need to make. You could spot some things that aren't working as well as they should be, or perhaps some new issues have arisen that you need to address. Once you have identified changes that you need to make, you can create a plan and execute it to update everything.

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Ensure Compliance with Business Partners and Associates

You also need to think about how to maintain your compliance when working with other businesses. Whether you are using an outsourcing service, partnering with another business or teaming up with associates, you need to ensure that they are all following the rules too. For example, under HIPAA, organizations need to make sure that all their vendors and business associates comply with the regulations. So it makes sense to spend time making sure that anyone you work with is just as diligent as you are when it comes to compliance.

Understand What to Do If Regulations Aren't Followed

You should consider what your procedures are if regulations or your own internal policies aren't followed. You need to have a process for dealing with any issues, whether it requires the use of a lawyer or just a review of your policies. You might need to consider the disciplinary process for any employees who fail to follow the rules and the best ways to protect your business. You need to be able to pick up on any mistakes as soon as possible and be aware of whether you need to report them to anyone. For example, if a data breach occurs, you might be required to report it to the relevant regulatory body.

Compliance is a major issue for any business. If you want to avoid trouble, you need to dedicate time to ensuring compliance for your company.