Jodie Flowerday, a Policy Advisor working in the New Zealand tertiary sector, discusses how to stay on top of end-of-year compliance and process adherence, among your many other work commitments, before it’s too late.
With Christmas upon us, most of us practising in-house and in private practice will be experiencing the pressures of the end of year workload in addition to pressures outside work.
My experience during this time of year more than any other time is that compliance and process adherence can become a casualty of all the other things that need to happen before the office closes for the Christmas break. The combination of things springing up at the last minute in the face of the impending Christmas close down period, procrastination of tasks, and a general feeling of fatigue or disillusionment, can contribute to the creation of hostile attitudes towards perceived “box-ticking” exercises. Those in positions of managing compliance and quality control may also be in positions where they are subject to the pressure of their colleagues to provide approval as quickly as possible. This in my opinion, creates an environment where compliance can become the problem rather than part of a solution.
So how can you avoid compliance requirements adding to the stress of your staff? During my time administering the policy review and development process of my organisation, I have had to address this issue. Here are 3 ideas and examples that may help others in compliance approval positions at this time of the year:
- Allow for alternative pathways for approval – This is closely linked to your authority levels (delegations) and the level of clarity around what constitutes major or minor approvals. For example, for policy my organisation has different approval levels for two broad groups of policy changes; ”minor” changes to documents and “major” changes to documents. Minor changes go through a fast tracked approval process that doesn’t involve the document approver, freeing them up to consider more significant issues.
- Adjust the workload to minimise a compliance pile up– Part of my organisations policy review process requires consultation. This can be lengthy and extensive. The end of the year can be extremely busy and most people need time to settle in to the new year to move the remainder of the previous year’s emergencies of their desk or come back from holidays. I avoid setting review dates in November, December, January and February on key or lengthy policies for this reason.
- Review and update your processes regularly– If efficiencies are created somewhere else in an organisation but a process does not take this into account , the process itself can then create inefficiency or conflict with practice. Processes themselves need to be subject to regular review and updated to reflect changes within the organisation prior to busy periods.
Jodie Flowerday has been working in various roles since 2011. She currently works in the tertiary education sector in the role of Senior Policy Advisor for a tertiary education institution. Contact Jodie at [email protected] or connect via LinkedIn