Prioritising company communication to improve compliance

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT)'s Sasha Kalb highlights the importance of communication in ensuring compliance to the corporate travel policy.

Encouraging open and honest communication is worth investing time and resources into when it comes to a company’s travel policy. More practically, giving employees the permission to query directives, even when they come from senior leaders, can enhance compliance across an entire organisation, including within a travel programme.

Employees can easily find themselves in the situation where, eager to show their abilities and with the desire to impress, they resist asking for guidance or questioning an approach, especially if a direction comes from a senior manager.

Clear communication between employees goes a long way into ensuring compliance when on the road

As an example, a junior travel manager may be asked to create an itinerary for a senior director that he or she knows is inconsistent with policy. If this travel manager doesn’t have the confidence or support to raise a concern, a violation will likely occur.

When such travel bookings are inevitably reviewed, the issue will be identified. This can have repercussions for all parties involved, and potentially even concerns for the organisation.

The question is how to stop this from happening?

New technology will continue to make it easier for employees to follow rules and comply with various policies. But, clear communication across an organisation, combined with individual accountability, remains of utmost importance.

Here are just three ideas which might help:

  1. Employee accountability: Ensure employees understand that it is their obligation to raise questions or concerns. In parallel, build a communication process that supports and encourages employees to satisfy this obligation.
  2. Leader accountability: Senior management must champion the importance of compliance; Tone from the Top is critical. One way to do this is to include Compliance as a regular agenda item at leadership meetings.
  3. Communication issue raising process: Establish and publicise a reporting hotline or a whistle-blower process, where employees can raise concerns without having to worry about any repercussions.

Finally, as a senior manager, hold yourself accountable. If you have a question about your company’s internal policies, such as your travel policy, familiarise yourself with requirements, or speak to someone who can help.

One good thing about encouraging workplace communication, is that compliance is just one of many areas that will improve in your work environment. Start the process now and reap the rewards in the future.

Sasha Kalb is the Asia Pacific vice president for compliance & risk with American Express GBT. In this role, she leads all aspects of the development, implementation and ongoing maintenance of all areas of Compliance and Risk disciplines. She works closely with business leaders in a customer-facing role to address customer questions and concerns as they navigate the complexity of today’s regulatory environment, leveraging GBT’s compliance expertise as a competitive advantage within the business travel industry.

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