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Creating a Culture of Compliance One Conversation at a Time

By Vjera Silbert, Dir. HR Compliance & EMP Rel, Temple University Health System And Allyson Saccomandi, Dir Leadership & Org dev, Temple University Health System

Vjera Silbert, Dir. HR Compliance & EMP Rel, Temple University Health System

With the numerous local, state and federal laws governing employment relationships, human resources have become a key component to any organization’s compliance team. At Temple Health we are working to move beyond the view that compliance is merely a gatekeeper role or a necessary evil; over the past four years, we have been working to cultivate a workplace where HR compliance is treated as part of everyone’s job. We have laid the groundwork with regard to emphasizing and holding individuals accountable to a set of organizational competencies and norms that will not only give us a competitive edge, but allow us, over time, to step back from traditional control mechanisms and external deterrents and motivate our colleagues to work and interact in an appropriate legal and ethical manner.

Our compliance initiatives start before day-one of employment when we ensure that key compliance requirements and credentials and qualifications for various positions are made known to incoming members of the Temple Health community. Rather than use the traditional instructor-led format for required regulatory training for new employee orientation, we are moving to an online experience as part of the pre-boarding process. This experience is more engaging and creates an opportunity for new hires to learn in smaller segments increasing retention and knowledge and reducing employee relations issues. Employees then visit the topics yearly for updates and reminders.

Since our leaders play a critical role in creating and implementing a culture of compliance, we stand behind and support an open-door environment where employees are comfortable with speaking up and addressing workplace concerns. In addition, in 2015 we implemented the Civil Treatment© curriculum by ELI© to highlight the importance of a respectful workplace and to drive a cultural shift across the organization. This curriculum, for leaders, clinicians and staff is designed to teach everyone how to prevent, detect and correct workplace issues and more importantly, how to create an environment where staff are comfortable raising concerns that will be addressed with fairness and consistency. 

Allyson Saccomandi, Dir Leadership & Org dev, Temple University Health System

The third prong of our strategy was to provide our colleagues with vital communication skills; to have the courage to address the tough challenges and to convey any message in a thoughtful and meaningful way including identifying impacts and focusing on solutions. At Temple Health, our view is that both employees and leaders have a shared responsibility for monitoring their workplace for compliance issues and at the core of this responsibility is the ability to bring issues or concerns to light in an open and professional manner. In doing so, we are creating a culture where feedback is not only given but continuously sought out and accepted freely.

"Rather than use the traditional instructor-led format for required regulatory training for new employee orientation, we are moving to an online experience as part of the pre-boarding process"

To cement these principles we launched a regular cadence of employee surveys to obtain and monitor feedback across the organization about many topics including compliance-related concerns. We deliberately pushed the resulting data down through our frontline leaders to drive accountability for addressing and resolving any concerns. This process, combined with purposeful two-way communication with individual teams created a collaborative exchange of ideas that resulted in a strong commitment to action and a timely approach to problem-solving.

Finally, we provide multiple channels for reporting workplace concerns and issues that go beyond direct reporting to leadership and human resources. Our channels also include a compliance hotline and we are currently in the process of creating a system that includes anonymous online reporting. These various methods provide reliable mechanisms that employees can count on.

To date, we have seen dramatic and encouraging results: Engagement scores are on the move nearly doubling in the past 5 years; employee disciplines are down nearly 50%; complaints about managers are down 20% and in this robust economy we have seen turnover and vacancy rates fall, placing our organization in the top 5% nationally cementing our belief that the combination of learning, communication, and processes will create a promising culture of compliance.

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