Compliance issues create tricky situations for employees. While most rules and regulations are easy enough to follow, many people will find themselves in situations where compliant action may not seem crystal-clear—or even in situations where they’ll be tempted to act out of line with established law or corporate policies. You may even unwittingly break a law, especially if you haven’t kept yourself up-to-date. Unsurprisingly, termination isn’t all that uncommon—just look at the recent firing of JP Morgan traders over compliance issues with corporate policy. Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting fired over compliance.
Keep Up to Date
The first step in being compliant is knowing what is expected of you. That means reviewing company policies and procedures—as well as new legislation—on regular basis. Governments can introduce new legislation at any time and companies should be monitoring their policies and procedures to ensure they’re compliant. If your company uses compliance management software, be sure to check in or ask for a report about recent updates and changes. If your company doesn’t use software to manage compliance, suggest that they should consider it.
Keeping up to date doesn’t just apply to you, however. You should also be sure to keep your files, workstations, and mobile devices up to date with new rules and processes as well. For example, if your company switches to using password protection on particular kinds of files, you should be sure to update those files’ protection by adding a password.
Follow the Rules
The most common reason people are fired over compliance is simply because they don’t follow the rules. Movies love to play up the noble, principled hero taking a stand against evil corporations by flouting their policies, but in real life, the most common policy violations are actually those designed to protect a company’s information, its employees, or its clients. In many cases, those policy violations hurt not only the company, but innocent people as well. Rules are usually in place for good reason.
That said, there may be unethical policies in place at a company, or they may be flagrantly violating legislation. In these cases, you should suggest that the policy be revisited and reviewed. If nothing is done, you may want to consider leaving the company anyway.
Taking precautions is one of the best things you can do when you’re working with sensitive information that could be leaked to an unauthorized third party. That means taking steps to protect yourself and your files. Check legislation and company policies for best practices surrounding working remotely, using cloud storage, or other practices and technology that could result in a security breach. Take steps to ensure your workstations are secure, and exercise good judgement when you’re doing things like opening email attachments or sending files over unsecure servers.
If you’re not sure what to do in a situation, it’s generally better to ask. After all, if you don’t know what the rule is, you’re more likely to break with corporate policy. If you can’t get an answer right away, leave the task for later if possible. Think about similar situations and how you’ve handled them in the past. If you’re still unsure, always try to act in the most secure and ethical way you know how. If you ask yourself the question, “Will doing this get me fired?”, your answer should always be “no.”
On Guard in Your Off-Time
While many people decry employers and companies watching social media for negative posts, keep in mind that your employer is likely monitoring what you do and say in your off time, including what you post to social media. Always follow best practices for posting to social media; an indiscretion in posting could cost you your job.