Greg Allman died over the weekend. He was one of the greater rock and rollers of all-time. Together with his brother Duane, Dickie Betts, Butch Trucks, Berry Oakley and Jai Johanny Johanson, he formed the original The Allman Brothers Band (ABB). The took many disparate strands of Southern music; the blues, rock and roll, jazz, and country to create the most regionally distinctive brand of rock – Southern rock. It was often aped but no one did it better than ABB.
Gregg and the band created a sound that no one who saw or heard them ever forgot. My friend and colleague, Bruce Jackson, General Counsel at JAS International wrote to me, “When I saw them live in Athens GA in 1970 they opened with “Don’t Want You No More/It’s not My Cross to Bear”, at first Duane’s crisp riff was the focus but when the song after 8 bars jumped to Gregg and his Hammond B3 with that ghostly Leslie speaker whirling around, I was blown away.” He added “Greg’s B3 sound and his “this IS how the blues is sung” voice defined the ABB sound thereafter.”
I can only agree with Jackson’s assessment. With all the wild rock and roll life-style, the 9-day marriage to Cher and even a liver transplant; there was always the Hammond B3 organ and that voice. ABB also brought a regional pride in creating a true Southern rock and roll sound that gave every Southerner pride. Now that Gregg is reunited in Rock and Roll Heaven with brother Duane and drummer Trucks, I know the rock will be even more everlasting.
How can you determine if Human Resources (HR) 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. According to Bright Hub Project Management, a gap analysis “compares actual performance (or status) with the desired performance (or status). A gap analysis takes into account where the company is and where it wants to be. Any review of a company and its goals should include a thorough gap analysis – especially when wanting to improve productivity, processes and products.”
From the HR and compliance perspective the four steps to undertaking a gap analysis are: (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 US 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 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 have to 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 the HR department to perform a gap analysis regarding policies and procedures:
- Does the HR department 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 the HR department 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 the HR department 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 employees within the HR department specifically trained to understand compliance requirements applicable to your organization?
- Does the HR department provide senior management with periodic updates on the monitoring of results, key risks, and compliance violations within HR?
- Has the HR department established some type of escalation criteria to ensure that high-risk compliance issues are reviewed at the corporate level?
- Does the HR department have compliance monitoring standards in place?
- Does the HR department 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.
For a YouTube clip of my all-time favorite ABB song Midnight Rider click here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Thomas R. Fox, 2017