This blog post is not intended to be a political statement. It is sad that I have to say that but when you even reference mask mandates, many folks assume there is a political undertone. Not at all.
Yesterday, a federal judge declared the CDC mandate that masks be worn on planes, trains and busses was illegal. Almost immediately, all of the major airlines stated masks are now optional for all employees and passengers. Before the government had a chance to consider whether to appeal the judge’s ruling, even the TSA put out a press release saying they would no longer be enforcing the mask mandate. I was struck by how fast corporations, and even a federal agency, made public statements declaring the transportation mask mandate to be dead. The reason for such a rapid response comes down to the fact, for many, the continued mask mandate on transportation simply didn’t make sense.
People can go to bars, churches, sporting events, and even the State of the Union address, and sit next to each other with no requirement that they wear a mask, yet, step foot in an airport, and failure to wear a mask could lead to jail! It didn’t make sense. People complied, for the most part, simply due to the threat of legal punishment, but how effective was their compliance? “You can remove your mask when eating or drinking” led to attempts to set a new world record for how long it takes to eat a Bischoff cookie on a plane. People tend to find ways around rules that simply don’t make sense.
This same principle applies to the compliance program. If the compliance program requires employees to do things, or jump through hoops, that just don’t make sense, there is a greater chance they will find a way to skirt those requirements. I always say, no one likes to have anything done TO them, but if they understand the basis for a requirement, and it makes sense, they may not like it, but generally they will comply, because it makes sense!
When you draft the policies and procedures that are the guard rails of the compliance program, stop and think about whether the procedures employees are required to follow make sense. If they don’t, it is the responsibility of the compliance officer and/or leadership to help staff understand why a particular task is required. Why documentation must be done after the fact, so it accurately reflects what happened; why protected health information is …. (wait for it) ….protected; and why taking gifts from a patient can lead to a conflict of interest. Taking the time to make sure the compliance program makes sense increases the effectiveness of the program, and isn’t that what we all want, a culture where employees to do the Right Thing, the Right Way, at the Right Time.