Risk Management and Compliance In A Time of Pandemic
The COVID-19 crisis is impacting businesses and employees in profound ways. For students of risk management and compliance, business responses to this crisis create real-world examples of risk identification, evaluation, prioritization, and response. They illustrate the challenges and importance of risk management in a changing world.
To keep businesses viable during this crisis, risk managers and compliance officers must draw on their skills and knowledge to make the best decisions they can with limited information. Federal and state directives—most notably social distancing—are impacting organizations and employees. Uncertainty about when the crisis may end means businesses can’t effectively plan for the future. Regulations are in flux and people are anxious about their health, their jobs, and the state of the economy.
Under these circumstances, risk managers and compliance professionals must be measured and resilient. You have to instill urgency without inciting panic. Practicing compliance with a conscience can balance the health and safety of our global community with the operations and strategic initiatives of our organizations.
Compliance with a conscience
Compliance and conscience are two approaches that work together to protect and support businesses and their employees. If we follow state and federal regulations with due regard for the health, safety, and security of both employees and businesses, we create positive results for all involved.
Seattle University School of Law alumnus, compliance professional, and professor, David Chen, observes: “The rapid expansion of teleworking and remote operations management occurring across the world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will forever change the way companies need to address organizational compliance and ethics. Direct interaction training, oversight, and fraud controls must fundamentally address the seismic shift in the way organizations do business in the 21st Century.”
The COVID-19 crisis makes clearer than ever that corporate compliance is a social good. When we comply with social distancing guidelines, for example, we support the health of our workers and the community. Finding ways to balance compliance with COVID-19 workplace guidance against the long-term term financial health of businesses is a huge challenge.
The Online Compliance and Risk Management program addresses real-world compliance and risk management scenarios by building understanding of internal process control, governmental oversight. and applicable law. From this foundation, students create systems and programs to measure, mitigate and reduce organizational risk. With these tools, they can protect and foster ethical business culture and decision making even in remote working environments.
Seattle University School of Law embraces the practice of compliance with a conscience because we know that compliance and risk management, when thoughtfully applied, represent a public good. They can help businesses to:
- Avoid fines and lawsuits
- Protect the health of workers
- Reduce pollution and environmental impacts
- Uphold safety standards
- Meet the demands of today while optimizing for the future
At the same time, we recognize that COVID-19 presents unprecedented challenges for businesses, compliance officers, and risk managers. Whether you are working in healthcare, finance, data, or cybersecurity, this pandemic will push you to make more decisions, more quickly.
“The skills and abilities necessary to adapt workforce behaviors as a result of this global outbreak will be invaluable, and businesses will look to leaders that can design and maintain robust accountability systems even when geographically and culturally diverse workforces are unable to interact face-to-face,” Professor Chen said.
What students and risk management professionals can do
We ask remote learners and working compliance and risk management officers alike to keep the principles of compliance with a conscience in mind as they make decisions for their businesses, their families, and themselves during the COVID-19 crisis. Your business and your community are relying on you to keep a level head and make the best possible decisions with the information you have available at the time.
To do so, you must also take care of your own physical and mental health. As you study online, take care of your families, and do your job, remember to perform a personal risk analysis. What decisions can you make today to reduce your physical, financial, and health risks now and into the future?
How to avoid burnout
- Find ways to de-stress – meditation, exercise, laughter, and conversations with friends and family can help minimize your stress levels so you can continue to do your best work.
- Focus on what you can control – During a pandemic, there are many things you can’t control. Focus on actions and choices that you can control.
- Accept that change is inevitable – Information and regulations are changing rapidly. Know that the decisions and policies you make today may need to change tomorrow. Check the latest guidance daily to keep your business in compliance.
- Sleep well, eat well, and move your body – You need all of your strength, health, and mental faculties to face these challenges. Take good care of yourself by exercising regularly, making smart meal choices, and moving your body every day.
- Take frequent breaks – In a time of crisis taking breaks can feel selfish or even reckless. However, your brain works best in short spurts. Taking frequent breaks will help you perform at a higher level longer.
Unexpected events like the COVID-19 crisis can make the already complex compliance and risk management landscape even more challenging to navigate. At the same time, they show us how vital compliance officers and risk managers are to the economic health and longevity of businesses. The choices you make today will guide your business into the future—your business is counting on you.