Creating a “culture of compliance” is a buzz phrase that you have probably heard before when speaking to regulators, lawmakers, auditors, and compliance consultants. At Allay Consulting, we have worked with a multitude of companies, and we have found that creating a compliance culture alone is not enough to keep your employees happy enough to follow all compliances. I would argue that creating a “culture of excellence” that includes compliance is the best way we have seen to mitigate risk and decrease revenue lost due to employee turnover and lack of employee engagement. This article is meant to encourage our industry to create a culture of excellence at the workplace. I hope our tips and hands-on experience shed light into creating the culture you want at your workplace.
At Allay Consulting we help companies create a culture that holds compliance in high regard. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of companies become compliant and gain certifications that are above and beyond what most companies are required to do in the space. Because of this experience, we have seen several unexpected positive outcomes that have benefited certified and compliant companies.
One of the biggest compliance projects we work with clients on is current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) certification, so I am going to use cGMP throughout this article as our example. Yes, getting cGMP certification has lots of benefits that directly relate to profit. It reduces the risk of recalls and disposals, creates a higher-priced product, increases consumer trust, opens more selling opportunities to bigger buyers, and can help you get a better price of your overall business when exiting (for more on cGMP, see April’s blog).
What we didn’t expect was that cGMP also helps create a culture of compliance, develops clear expectations on what each employee is responsible for, includes required trainings, reduces safety incidents, reduces turnover, attracts higher level candidates to apply for your jobs, gives a sense of pride to employees, and creates a happier work environment. Because of the hidden benefits of certification and compliance, we should speak about the things we believe are the benefits of not only creating a culture of compliance but also of creating an overall culture of excellence!
We’ve all heard of toxic work environments. Some of us have personal experiences with negative conflicts at the workplace, and those jobs typically don’t last long. Displeasure at the workplace often leads to unmotivated staff, decreased productivity, errors, anxiousness, and turnover at work. These unwanted results are a clear indication that the company’s culture isn’t working. An effective approach to keeping your staff happy and reducing conflicts is creating a culture of excellence.
What is a culture of excellence? In a culture of excellence, employees feel that what they are working on is meaningful, significant, and purpose-based. Everyone concerned is highly inspired by the common purpose, which becomes the driving force behind everything that they do. As you can see, a culture of compliance and a culture of excellence go hand in hand. With a significant and strong culture of excellence in place, compliance would simultaneously be addressed as long as one of the main purposes of the company is to operate compliantly and create safe product for their consumers.
Creating a culture of excellence is a must in any organization! At the heart of “culture” is people; people are the foundation for any culture, especially at the workplace. People are dynamic and unique in their own way; we must celebrate our differences yet still be guided by the company values and goals.
Establishing Company Purpose and Values
Companies who choose compliance as a value may initially run into difficulties with staff buy-in because of the change in process, implementation of intertwining documentation systems, training, and so on. At first, employees may not enjoy the new processes and documentation requirements, but many soon realize there are benefits to having compliance as a company value. Often, employees see that the checks and balances provide structure, accountability, pride, and satisfaction in knowing their duties are done correctly and documented.
A company’s purpose and values are the guiding light in creating culture. They must be authentic, just like the people who work for the company—you’re humanizing the company and its intention! Your authentic and intentional purpose and values create a common and clear goal for employees. This creates an environment with clear expectations to meet the common goal. Once the company establishes their purpose and values, each department can then determine their own department goals, and though this is at the core of the company’s culture, they cannot be successful without being paired with adequate leadership.
Transparent and Consistent Leadership
Transparent and consistent leadership encourages a culture of excellence at the workplace. Leadership must be completely transparent and able to clearly and effectively communicate the purpose, values, and common goals to employees. While there are several methods of communication styles, leaders must remain supportive and consistent so the employee is not left guessing. By not allowing employees to simply guess your next move, you’re creating a supportive environment. Clear and consistent leadership creates accountability to meet the collective goal.
Setting Clear Expectations
Since people are the heart of culture, leaders must be able to set clear expectations with their staff. Setting expectations can be a part of the company’s standard operating procedures, day-to-day management encounters, and a well-developed training program. Training gives the employer an opportunity to establish expectations, and setting expectations leaves the guess work out for employees, resulting in happier employees. Training not only ensures that all employees are on the same page, but it also promotes product consistency and quality among product lines. Fostering product consistency and quality reduces the likelihood of errors or a recall and increases customer satisfaction. This is a great time for the trainees to ask questions and understand the “whys” behind company expectations. Generally, employees want to perform their job duties well, and a solid training program provides employees with the tools and confidence they need.
Trust is not given, trust is earned. Staff in leadership roles must “talk the talk and walk the walk” consistently. Each employee is unique in how they build trust. We have found that our clients build trust with their staff in various ways that include these guidelines:
Feeling valued at work can make or break an employee’s success and desire to work at your company. Each employee is unique and valuable in their own extraordinary way. This uniqueness is to be celebrated! Because each person has their own perceptions based on prior experiences, we can learn more about how the company or leadership can be more efficient. For this to happen, employees need to feel safe speaking up, and leaders must listen and provide feedback. This results in creating respect and seeing the immense value we all present. Leadership must also recognize and reward, even for the small efforts made by employees! Valuing employees can create an environment that promotes creativity, willingness to support company goals, increase production, and overall increased happiness.
We hope you take some of these tips back to your own business or company and create a culture of excellence!
Kim Stuck is the CEO and founder of Allay Consulting. Direct correspondence to: firstname.lastname@example.org.