Right now is when many HR professionals are making policy and procedure changes.  I also find it interesting to understand the actual basis for HR policy change, so I spoke to a number of HR leaders in our client base.  After exchanging holiday pleasantries and sincere wishes for a great 2019, I asked them, what drives workplace policy change inside your organization?

The responses were varied as you might imagine, but I found it interesting that in almost all cases, to some degree or another, public trends were having an increasing impact.  Of course cultural shifts and norms should drive policy and procedure refinement, but it is only one driver.  And all drivers have value!

So let’s start with public trends.  Clearly the most well seen of late is the #METOO movement and its impact on sexual harassment in the workplace.  A very important spotlight was shone on a very dark problem, and I’d like to think that the light helps.

But let’s also consider legal and regulatory changes – drivers outside your organization that are nonetheless very real.  The marquee for this was GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in 2018 and I doubt there was a company on earth that didn’t revisit their privacy policy at a minimum and by extension, employee privacy matters.  All this drove changes in InfoSec Policies and even trickled down into other policies (work at home, PII, etc).

The third leg of the stool is all too often the most ignored, and arguably the most important.  And that is what problems does my company specifically have that are of our own doing and can be addressed with policy and education?  Ignored, because it’s not easy to know. And that’s why benchmarking is so vital. Flexible benchmarking that allows you to define time frame, comparatives to peer groups, the ability to drill down into subtopics.  How many cases of discrimination did my company have per 1,000 employees versus our peer group? Within that how did our composition of gender bias versus racial discrimination fare? Many companies have an exhaustive and inaccurate benchmark trying to do this manually, and map their own issues against broad ranging industry info that is publicly available.  This adventure in analytics is frustrating and the results suspect, so companies fall back on “what’s in the news” and “what new laws do I need to worry about.” And when that happens, you place your company on a two legged stool….

J Rollins is the co-founder and CEO of ETHIX360.  At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to employee communication and case management on issues related to corporate ethics, code of conduct, fraud, bribery, EH&S and workplace violence.  To learn more about ETHIX360, please visit www.ethix360.com, or follow us on twitter @ethix360.