In the regulations-heavy atmosphere of HR, it can be easy to become inundated with so many compliance rules and reports that it consumes the bulk of a manager’s attention. It is naturally important to follow all applicable HR regulations, for mistakes in this area can have a massive organizational impact, but allowing it to consume the efficiency of employees is counterproductive.

As long as an organization takes certain steps to be diligent in their preparation, then HR compliance does not have to make it harder to achieve your 2017 business goals.

Communicate Openly

While clear communication is essential in any department, in HR it is vitally split threefold. First and foremost, it’s a necessity to forge a relationship with the government or industry agencies whose requirements must be fulfilled. Forms must be submitted in a timely fashion, requests for extensions should not be made at the last minute, and any uncertainties regarding regulations or procedures must be brought up as questions without hesitation.

Next, it is vital to properly communicate with those that are charged with executing these procedures: the HR staff and management. Regular meetings should be held to keep the entire team on the same page regarding updates or changes to any rules or regulations. Additionally, implementing a clear and comprehensive communication plan of action in the event of an incident will help make things smoother in the long run.

With clear expectations from regulatory bodies and a well-versed HR department and management, communicating with the company’s staff as a whole will become easier. Training all employees early on is not a new revelation, but when laws change, the best HR departments can react swiftly. Even if changes are not finalized, communicating timelines and expectations to workers will help curb the rumor mill from beginning. If there is uncertainty, reiterate how the laws currently stand and send out regular updates.

For example, take a look at how great communication provides a proactive approach to workman’s comp. When an assembly line worker is injured by a machine, their well-informed co-workers know exactly what to do and alert the shift supervisor. Being trained on the matter, the supervisor immediately calls an ambulance and the plant manager. HR, already knowing the right procedures, rapidly fills out and files the correct forms. A terrifying situation that can be compounded by administrative frustration is avoided, and the focus on normal operations and business goals can continue rapidly.

Go Digital

Even the most basic change can have a profound impact on productivity. When it comes to the form-heavy arena of HR compliance, adopting a paperless mindset could save hours of inefficient writing. Digital forms are faster to fill out, harder to lose, easier to send and receive, and can be located quickly with a simple computer search. Many HR departments have already seen these benefits, such as those that have adopted electronic I-9 form management systems.

The cloud is another technology improving the professional lives of many in HR. Gone are the days of large filing cabinets and looking for lost documents to no avail. Storing digital forms in the cloud not only makes them easier to work with, but provides a second layer of security. The scenarios of a fire consuming paperwork or spilled coffee ruining a form are no longer a concern. Likewise, even if a computer is destroyed, the cloud will keep your documents intact.

A step up from going paperless, there are countless excellent Human Capital Management software programs available. Not only can a digital HR portal streamline procedures, but it can also increase HR functionality in ways your organization may not have even thought of yet. Countless businesses have adopted HCM software packages, and in doing so have saved money while increasing efficiency.

Prepare for Changes

While you may still be adapting to updates such as OSHA changes, it’s necessary to keep an eye on other volatile areas. Recently proposed changes to the overtime rule were stopped by a federal judge. Benefits administration is concerning to millions with the potential changing of the Affordable Care Act. Despite the uncertainty surrounding these and other potential regulatory changes, there are ways to stay prepared.

In short, maintain whatever programs you currently have in place. Unless you promised and communicated a certain change to employees and it is already 90% completed, wait for the laws to officially change. Any prior preparation will only serve as a springboard to acting quickly once new laws are formalized. And if you have not thought about any of these changes, it’s time to begin exploring how your organization could react. Taking a little time now to plan will save a lot of time later.

Don’t Let HR Compliance Distract You

Adhering to HR rules is not an option; it’s a necessity. However, the way you choose to go about it will dictate the level of support you have in achieving your 2017 business goals. Even when taking the appropriate steps, it can be difficult to avoid compliance becoming a drain on productivity. Partnering with an HR management provider is often the best solution to remove any distractions entirely and streamline all HR-related operations.

For a closer in-depth look at ensuring compliance, download our complimentary Ultimate HR Compliance Guide today.