When you hear the term “control environment,” you might think of a scientific experiment, a medical facility, or even Area 51. But, in reality, companies across all industries have aspects of a controlled environment. From how they onboard and offboard employees to how they handle confidential information, an enterprise’s controlled environmental factors can either help their business run more smoothly or create unintentional roadblocks.
If you’re experiencing protocol violations or employee violations, it’s plausible that your employees don’t understand or respect your controlled environment since it’s never been clearly defined. This is where you need to start, especially if you’ve never taken the time to internally define and implement your controlled environment on a corporate level.
Businesses can set companywide expectations for operations, compliance, and conduct by clearly defining and documenting their controlled environment and then socializing these guiding principles to ensure organizational acceptance and alignment. Once this defining document is done, helping your team understand what an ideal controlled environment looks like for your business, you can start bringing it to life through practical improvement.
Understanding your controlled environment and how to improve it helps you better predict risk and trust your employees to mitigate it further. Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Evaluate Your Current Controlled Environment
The first step in the improvement process, evaluation, helps you understand the health of your current controlled environment and the things that need to change to create an ideal one. Keep an eye on three specific areas of evaluation: 1) your operations, 2) hiring and training, and 3) performance measuring and compliance. They provide a well-rounded view of what your controlled environment looks like and where it needs to improve, so you can better anticipate risk.
If employees have a good grasp of how your enterprise operations work for their specific role or department, and on a larger scale, your controlled environment is likely operationally healthy. How can you practically test the strength of this foundation? Challenge team members’ operational knowledge by asking questions about their specific job responsibilities, like the chain of authority and product and/or company knowledge.
Hiring and Training
Creating a solid control environment starts with a candidate’s initial interview and continues through their entire employee tenure. Write a list of position responsibilities, work hours, leadership, and advancement for all positions to establish this expectation from day one and help you gauge the effectiveness of your hiring and training efforts. Then, reinforce these expectations by offering thorough training and regular continued education to help every employee contribute confidently to your enterprise.
Performance Measurement and Compliance
The final step in evaluating your current control environment is to determine how employee success is measured and develop success markers to simplify the tracking process. Setting KPIs and gauging improvements through clearly mapped operational metrics create clear performance and compliance standards for every team member. Not only do these standards protect you from serious legal penalties, but they also protect employees, helping to make sure and make sure they’re treated and evaluated fairly so they can succeed at your enterprise.
2. Prioritize Environmental Impact From the Top Down
A healthy corporate culture plays a crucial role in your controlled environment. One simple, highly-visible way to start improving weak points discovered during evaluation is to have leadership exemplify the importance of your controlled environment. When internal leaders contribute to the environment you want to create, they empower others to do the same.
Leaders offer other value to your control environment improvements, too. Their earned influence can help set realistic benchmarks and reach your larger team more effectively. Kellie Wong’s article, 9 Tips for Building Trust in the Workplace, explains that workplace trust helps build engagement. It establishes that employees are more likely to accept new expectations, operational or technical changes, and introductions to further training from a trusted person like a team lead. Employees are more likely to be actively engaged in positively impacting your controlled environment when they trust their leader and believe that leadership has employees’ best interests in mind.
3. Use Technology To Streamline Controlled Processes
Controlled internal processes offer proactive incident prevention, integration, and a better response when an incident does occur. These processes work together to streamline operations, save your enterprise’s valuable resources, and reduce risk. Adding technological advancements helps streamline controlled processes even further and helps increase your ROI.
Here are some key aspects of a controlled environment that can quickly improve by adding technology:
By using technology like blockchain to create internal efficiencies and streamline control activities, you get valuable information (like response time or incident frequency) about new risk response methods and increased efficiency of measurable risk responses.
Technology makes real-time data readily available via IoT and other sources and adds value to your risk assessment and response analytics. In addition, technology helps turn the data into digestible information you can use to assess future risks better.
Information and Communication
New advancements increase organization efficiency and revenue by simplifying information sharing and communication. In addition, vital technological advancements with apps, digital platforms, and even shared media portals allow every team member to access the necessary materials to perform control activities and maintain your control environment.
Monitoring activities helps evaluate how successfully you’re maintaining your enterprise’s control environment. Technological advancements can track employee activity and digital compliance, machine efficiency, and even risk, providing an accurate gauge on the health of your controlled processes and overall functions.
4. Monitor the Health of Your Evolving Control Environment
Once you’re actively working to improve your control environment, tracking its evolving function shows you whether or not your improvements are working. Having a “risk-centric” view of your controlled environment and how current activities contribute to or work against improving your controlled environment helps gauge how healthy your controlled environment is. It can also identify areas of improvement or potential growth.
Regular audits, internal reviews, and employee surveys also help accurately monitor your controlled environment’s health.
5. Work With the Right Risk Management Partner
All our tips are useless without adequate risk management. Effective risk management keeps your control environment safe and dry from the proverbial rain. It works on a larger scale to proactively keep your people and your enterprise nimble and safe from potential incidents. When you’re not worried about risk, you can focus on growth. Having an experienced risk management partner doing this legwork frees you up to do just that.
At Resolver, our sophisticated, easy-to-use solutions are designed to help your growing enterprise reach new heights. Whether you need improved corporate security, best-in-class risk, compliance, or experienced IT management, Resolver’s technology and data-driven reporting help you drive your business forward. Contact us today to request your demo and see how our solutions can work for you.