You probably have to be a true NY Yankees fan to know the name of Irv Noren. He was a little known and long forgotten Yankee from the early 1950s who helped bridge the gap between the retirement of the greatest Yankees ever—Joe DiMaggio to the ascension of the next Yankee great, Mickey Mantle. DiMaggio retired after the 1951 season and Mantle was still recovering from a knee injury that would plague him for all his career. Yankee Manager Casey Stengel and General Manager George Young were not satisfied with the outfielders on the roster so they traded for Noren.

Noren had been a star with the lowly Washington Senators and was awestruck when he joined the team. As cited in his New York Times (NYT) obituary “I said to myself, ‘This is where Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and everybody was, in this clubhouse,’” he told the website Baseball Happenings in 2016. “You had to produce over there. In Washington you could go 0-8, but in New York if you went 0-8, someone else would be there. They had to win.”” Win and produce he did, with the Yankees winning the World Series in 1952, 1953 and losing to the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1955 World Series and winning it all again in 1956.

I thought of Noren and how he was seen as bridging the gap between two Yankee superstars as an introduction into today’s blog post on how can you determine if your Human Resources (HR)  Department can meet the needs of a best practices compliance program? One place to start is with a gap analysis to determine what HR has in place that can facilitate your company’s compliance program. For it is through a gap analysis that you can work to bridge the gap between what exists and where your program needs to go to be effective.

From the HR and compliance perspective, there are four steps to undertaking a gap analysis: 1) understanding the compliance and HR environment in your organization; 2) taking a holistic approach to understanding the compliance and HR environment; 3) determining a framework for analysis, and 4) compiling supportive data to test the program.

Yet before beginning this exercise it is incumbent to understand that the first element of an effective compliance program under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines is to have Established Policies and Procedures to protect and detect non-compliance with regulations. While the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines specifically target “criminal conduct”, companies would be wise not to limit their risk assessment or gap analysis to only criminal conduct.

Most, if not all, companies possess several corporate policies that govern employee behaviors.  The person in charge of the corporate compliance function should first identify the policies in place by utilizing a gap analysis to catalog the existence of corporate policies across the company, noting policy gaps and inconsistent application of policies across various locations. The business units and functional disciplines should be tasked with filling the gaps and standardizing conflicting polices.

This exercise allows you to move forward to what is required to operationalize compliance as you must know what you must be compliant with going forward. So how does one work with the business units and the functional disciplines to structure the identification of legal and compliance risks in a way that can be managed and utilized with some degree of ease? Here are a few questions that a compliance practitioner may pose to HR to perform a gap analysis regarding policies and procedures:

  • Does HR have an inventory of policies, procedures, laws and regulations covering employees and employment related matters applicable to the company’s business?
  • If yes, do you have a specified person who is in charge of updating the inventory?
  • If no, what system does HR utilize to ensure that it is aware of the various compliance laws and regulations and has a process to comply with them?
  • What evidence would HR be able to produce to the government to support a finding that the company has a solid compliance program for applicable labor and employment laws and regulations?
  • What types of compliance training are mandatory for all employees, which are optional and how does HR track and document completion? How is the training performed? Is it provided in the native language of the employee or only in English?
  • What types of enforcement actions predominate in the compliance arena for your industry or where your organization does business? How is such data tracked in your company?
  • Are HR employees specifically trained to understand compliance requirements applicable to your organization?
  • Does HR provide senior management with periodic updates on the monitoring of results, key risks, and compliance violations within HR?
  • Has HR established some type of escalation criteria to ensure that high-risk compliance issues are reviewed at the corporate level?
  • Does HR have compliance monitoring standards in place?
  • Does HR perform periodic audits to ensure that the policies and procedures are being complied with?

These are only a few of the questions that you may want to ask to begin the process of assessing how compliance and the role of HR apply to your company.

My final suggestion is to work with HR to create a consolidated Human Resources Compliance Audit Checklist that can be used to audit (and document) the company’s HR Compliance Program. The key to compliance, in my opinion, is having the proper structure to identify the issues, implement policies and procedures to address the issues, audit for compliance and “Document, Document, and Document”.

Irv Noren not only provided a vital bridge between two Yankee stalwarts; he was an All-Star and excellent player in his own right. In 1954, he had the third best average in the America League with a .314 average. He was an All-Star for several years as well. When you can bridge a gaps with someone like Noren or use a gap analysis to bridge your HR compliance program from good to great, you are on to something very significant.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2015

0 comments