If You Want Millennials to Be Your Ethics and Compliance Policy Management Ambassadors, Do This…


I’ve been working in the ethics and compliance industry for nearly four years now and I’m really enjoying it.  It’s a far more complex and interesting industry than I originally thought.  At The Network, we think of the parts of our ethics and compliance solution in three categories: those that help companies Protect, Detect and Correct misconduct.  We’re not really supposed to play favorites, but my favorite is Protect.

When we say “Protect” we essentially mean Policy Management, Code of Conduct and Training and Awareness.  Those are the pieces companies use to establish the standards of acceptable behavior for their employees, who really are their best defense against misconduct.  They are the defenses you put in place to protect your organization and minimize misconduct from occurring in the first place.

Of all of the Protect components, policy management can be the most frustrating to me as a marketer because it provides so much value, but our buyers struggle with it.  In many companies no one seems to “own” corporate policies.  Some policies are owned by HR, some by Compliance, some by IT… so while they may understand the need to have a comprehensive solution, no one really feels empowered to drive that process and no one really has a budget for it.

Be that as it may, ethics and compliance policy management is a critical discipline and it’s not only companies that are coming around to it, but the press and blogosphere are writing about it more frequently.  I ran across this blog that I liked by Halley Bock, 3 Corporate Policy Dinosaurs That Must Evolve in 2014.  It’s not so much about the process but about actual policies that should change to keep up with the ever-increasing number of millennials entering the workforce and the increasingly remote, disconnected nature of business.  We’ve written about how ethics and compliance policy management has to address the growing number of millennials entering the workforce before and this aligns with that thinking.

Bock questions why do we have to have “9 to 5” hours?  We should “recognize that individuals work best at different hours of the day and can actually be more productive in certain aspects of their job working from home. More and more organizations are moving to a flexible work schedule, and building strong cultures of personal accountability, in which team members meet their goals regardless of time of day.”  She also advocates moving away from the traditional, annual review process and to “progress to a culture of real-time conversations that allows workers to course correct quickly… these ongoing performance conversations will improve morale, as well as individual and organizational performance.”  Finally, regarding advancement, an “insightful new approach is starting to take hold, recognizing that an employee’s value may not be simply assessed by the number of people managed. Equally valuable are the individuals who can completely own a strategic initiative, network among various teams, and accomplish goals.”

We should be taking this discussion seriously because according to a recent study from Aon Hewitt, Millennials will make up roughly 50% of the U.S. workforce by 2020.  This generation will change the culture of work in America and so we have to be prepared from an ethics and compliance policy management perspective, to accommodate an upcoming cultural shift.  To get the most productivity out of the millennial generation, we have to enact policies and foster cultures that prioritize what matters most to them.

Ethics And Compliance Policy Management, Millennials 9 to 5

So what matters most?  An article by Dr. Michael Woodward “Millennials Will Change the Workplace Culture, Here’s how Employers Can Adapt,” reminds us that we should also expect an increased focus on health and wellness policies in the workplace.  According to a newly-released survey from health and engagement platform Keas, Millennials are becoming increasingly more engaged in their own health and wellbeing. The survey found:

  • 46%of Millennials want as much quantifiable data about their health as possible
  • 54% of Millennials will likely buy a body-analyzing device (weight, body fat, blood pressure, etc.)
  • 31% believe that genetics/DNA tests are valuable in better understanding of their health.

I’m sure you are saying, “ok, but what does that mean for ethics and compliance policy management?” If you want your employees to be ambassadors for your ethics and compliance policy management program, it’s important that they feel that the company is invested in them.  According to the survey,  Millennials want their employers involved in their work/life balance: 64% indicated cash or some tangible benefit would most motivate them to participate in a corporate health program, and 33% said that providing money-based incentives would be the single most valuable action in helping them reach their health goals for 2014.

This is another shift in organizational thinking.  The team running your ethics and compliance program already knows how critical it is to engage your employees.  Now you know how many of those employees are motivated by health and wellness.  Ethics and compliance policy management may have a role to play here: use the lessons you learned when you rolled out unsuccessful, boring anti-bribery training; use the engagement and awareness techniques that work in other areas of ethics and compliance to accommodate health and wellness, as one example, into your company culture.  When your employees see that the company is invested in the things that matter most to them, they will be more willing to take ownership for company initiatives, including your ethics and compliance policy management.

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