Security, Compliance

The Secret to Meeting IT Compliance? Effective Employee Communications

Chaz Hager January 02 2024

There are hundreds of IT security regulations your business must comply with—and as business owners and managers, you recognize the critical importance of these rules and regulations. Failure to comply means you risk not only financial penalties, but unnecessary and avoidable risks and exposures for your business’s security.  

Following these regulations though, whether it’s a required educational seminar or specific processes, can feel tedious to even your most engaged employees. They probably even feel tedious to you sometimes, but because you recognize their importance, you’re about to power through pretty easily.  

So how do you get your employees on the same page with you and ensure you’re doing everything you need to meet compliance requirements?  

The answer lies in a concept called change management.  

What is Change Management? 

Change management can be defined as “a systematic approach to the transformation of goals, processes and technologies” with the goals to create “confident, positive, and optimistic stakeholders with the skills and commitment to ensure new initiatives succeed.” 

In other areas of your business, including many situations implementing new technologies and digital processes, change management is increasingly less about a top-down approach. Instead, making change is the work, as businesses prioritize adaptability and agility, with employees involved in changes from the outset.  

Managing change in this way is highly effective: the employees involved in execution are involved in the dialogue, planning, and strategy setting, ensuring their engagement and understanding of the goals.  

But by definition, regulations come from the top down—the very top of the country in fact—and there’s little wiggle room. Which means you have to lean on other methods of communication and team building to ensure your compliance needs are met.  

Change the Mindset Around Compliance 

Most of the time, we consider meeting compliance requirements and regulations a defensive task. You’re defending your business against the regulatory and legal liabilities and penalties. But if you can shift your mindset and your communications around compliance toward a more positive, beneficial one, it can make a big difference. 

After all, these regulations typically exist for a solid reason—often to protect you, your business, your employees, and their jobs. Take the time to set a compliance communications strategy that gets to the heart of these issues and help set perspective by discussing the larger cultural context of the regulations your business is impacted by.  

As part of your local, national, and global communities, your business must act with compliance at the core of everything you do—rather than just a necessary annoyance to appease regulators. Compliance can be reframed as something you do as good corporate citizens and community members. 

Vary Your Communication Channels and Delivery Methods 

It’s well-established that to effectively communicate an idea, concept, or message, it takes multiple delivery methods and channels and repetition, repetition, repetition. You can adopt this idea with your compliance communications strategy as well.  

For example, your employees may be required to follow a set of established rules and processes and clearly understand what’s required of them. It’s helpful to not only hold a training webinar and send a follow-up email, but to communicate repeatedly over time through all the available communications tools your business has. This could mean a regular posting schedule on your organizational intranet, a series of emails, webinars, Q&A sessions, short videos, posters, bulletin board postings, and more. Vary the visual with the written and the auditory. 

With something as important as meeting compliance standards, you’ll also want to consider making regulatory requirements a regular part of your all-hands meetings or town halls, whether they’re conducted in-person or remotely, or some hybrid of the two. Rather than hosting a separate event and pulling everyone away from their daily work, regularly addressing compliance in staff communication is a tactic that helps reinforce compliance as a regular and beneficial part of doing business. This also helps you break down information so it’s not overwhelming, but instead, short, memorable, and effective. 


It’s also helpful to involve managers in setting points to cover with their team regularly and in person, in terms that best fit their departments and teams, which brings us to our next tip. 

Make a list of every available communication channel, from digital to person-to-person, and create a simple communications schedule so you can ensure you’re embedding compliance communications at multiple levels. 

Adapt Regulatory Language for Your Audience 

Adapt Regulatory Language for Your Audience 

You may very well be aware of how important it is to pull yourself out of your industry jargon when you’re communicating with people outside your niche—for example, with prospective customers who may not be as ingrained in the language as you are.  

Regulatory officers are not always focused on making compliance rules and standards accessible to every level of employee. But, knowing your team best, you can be.  

You, your communications team, and your management team can help translate the requirements and message in terms that will be best heard and understood by your employees. One size doesn’t fit all, and the content and communications styles will vary from your executive team to entry level employees. It’s also important to filter the content for them; rather than inundating them with the entire rulebook, help curate the parts they’re responsible for and put it in terms they clearly understand, so they know exactly how it will impact them and their jobs. This way, you’ll avoid overloading them with information that isn’t relevant to them and more effectively ensure they’ll be able to retain and get on board with their specific compliance responsibilities. 

This also includes, as we pointed out above, putting the stakes in terms they’ll understand too: not just the negative ones, but the benefits to them of following compliance rules too. 

Communicate Openness to Feedback 

While you don’t have the power to change regulations and compliance standards, you can regularly ask for employee feedback as to how well you’re doing communicating the benefits and risks associated with compliance, as well as their requirements. You can accompany this with internal testing to best gauge the company-wide level of understanding and engagement. It’s important to assess these results together, as your communication strategy and tactics are responsible for educating and engaging your employees in the idea that to succeed as a team and do your best, most effective work together, compliance is important and beneficial. 

Regular Effort will Reap Regular Reward 

To meet your organization’s compliance requirements, you have to have active participation and buy-in from your entire team. Because there’s little you or your employees can do other than adhere to regulations, establishing an effective communications strategy will go a long way towards keeping your organization compliant. This begins with putting compliance requirements in terms your employees can understand and relate to, and effectively communicating the benefits to the rules so you can help shift organizational mindset and establish optimism and engagement amongst your team members.  

Beyond that, regular, consistent, and varied communication is your best approach. An effective communications strategy doesn’t have to be expensive or involve creating new channels. Instead, it’s most effective to embed your message in each level of company communications, make it a regular part of doing business, and filter and translate messages to each audience within your business. 

And lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your compliance wins—when done well, effective compliance communications can help forge even stronger team bonds that can be felt across your entire organization. 


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