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Rulebreakers cost UK businesses £1.6 million a year

The study found staff are most likely not to follow policies relating to HR

Failure to comply costs UK businesses £1.6 million per year on average, according to a study from training platform Cypher.

The study of 400 HR and business leaders found staff are most likely not to follow policies relating to HR (47%), data sharing (44%) and health and safety (37%).

The majority (91%) of UK respondents said greater employee accountability would mitigate business risks, while 74% think staff don’t understand the importance of policies and procedures.

Over two thirds (69%) think staff are likely breaking rules, but often don’t know until something goes wrong.

Graham Glass, CEO of Cypher, said: “Too often policies and procedures are treated as a tick-box exercise. It’s easy to lose sight of their purpose. The only way to do that is by engaging people. They need to understand the purpose and the benefit. What’s in it for them?”

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Glass added that the need for new policies and procedures increases each year as society, technology and the way we work evolves.

In the past three years, UK businesses have updated policies and procedures relating to sexual harassment, bullying and workplace conduct (45%), hybrid working (41%), sustainability (42%), cybersecurity (39%), social media (39%), gender inclusivity (37%) and diversity (37%).

He said: “From shifting regulations to the introduction of new technologies, new threats, and evolving societal norms; what was acceptable or trusted one year may not be the next.

"It’s hard to keep up. But a breach in policy or failure to have a policy in place can quickly result in reputational damage, injury, fines, revenue loss, reduced productivity or even legal action.”

The study found 67% find getting workers to comply with policies as a ‘major headache’.

Most (97%) respondents believe employees would be more likely to understand and comply with policies and procedures if training was more engaging. However, 89% said barriers such as a lack of time, funding and urgency prevent them from making training more engaging. 

Glass said: “To encourage greater workforce accountability and compliance, better training and development should be at the heart of risk mitigation strategies. 

“Training and education around policies and procedures shouldn’t be a yawn fest. It needs to be engaging, memorable, timely and measured, to drive home the message. If the people designing courses feel uninspired, can they really expect the staff to engage?

“The fact that policies and procedures can be seen as ‘boring’ simply underlines the need for creativity, that’s the challenge.”

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