Compliance: HR’s Greatest Opportunity to Avoid Risk and Reap Rewards

Blog_Compliance Image 1At the end of the day, business is a team sport. Well-managed organizations know how to effectively delegate, ensuring that each silo within an organization is responsible for a particular set of clearly defined tasks that ladder up to the overall business goals. Each group is relied upon not only to execute those tasks well, but also trusted to provide insight and information that executive teams can use to make strategic decisions.

Unfortunately, HR isn’t always considered for its strategic input the same way other, revenue-generating departments are. They’re often relied upon, instead, to execute back office tasks and provide advice only in times of crisis. One way HR departments can change that view is by leveraging compliance issues to develop a partnership with other departments, helping to tangibly demonstrate HR’s strategic value.

Here are three tips for HR departments in using compliance to get a seat at the table:

1. Establish ownership

Unlike the forward-looking statements delivered by finance teams, or research on potential new markets delivered by operations teams, compliance matters might not be seen as immediately critical. However, HR can play a key role in making it clear to management just why compliance is so important, and the significant costs for employers that run afoul of the law. HR departments have an opportunity to shift the perspective, showing other strategic partners that there are opportunities to get ahead of the curve and find ways to strengthen their organizations.

For example, HR teams can proactively seek out information on pending legislation to take stock of the political climate, helping managers preemptively position the company against compliance changes. A proactive heads-up to department leads can help their decision-making processes, adding another dimension to their effectiveness and helping position HR as valued partner.

2. Be Diligent

After understanding the overall compliance landscape, getting familiar with details also helps further set the foundation for driving the strategic value of HR departments. While other department heads should be familiar with some details of compliance issues that can affect them, most of the hard line items shouldn’t disrupt them from their operational duties. HR can position itself as a key ally here by taking these details, developing comprehensive plans and guidance, and translating this guidance into actionable items to which management and employees can consider and react.

3. Tap Internal Partners for Input

While HR should have a comprehensive grasp over compliance issues relevant to the business, it should also be sure to involve other departments in providing input, carefully considering their concerns and perspectives and, consequently, helping to position the HR team itself as an integral partner in the organization.

A curious, information-hungry HR department that taps other departments for their input demonstrates inclusiveness and an understanding of the business impacts of decisions, rather than a singular focus on HR-related concerns. To be considered a valuable partner, it’s important for HR leaders to treat peers as equally valuable partners in helping the organization remain compliant.

Leveraging compliance to build cross-company partnerships is just one strategy on the road to visibility. Read more strategy perspectives from XpertHR and HR leaders in our full report, How HR Can Become a Business Partner.