Debbie Sharvit
Nov 6th, 2018

Culture and Compliance: People Ops the American Way

When I moved to New York City from Tel Aviv, I had to quickly learn how the human resources industry operated in the United States. Interviewing is one of the best ways to understand the market in any field.

In the two years, I have lived in the U.S., I interviewed with dozens of human resources professionals. I was surprised to learn how HR in America focused on laws, regulations, and policies sometimes over career fulfillment and personal development - but that is changing in many offices.

I learn that organizations in the US emphasis on legal-based areas sometimes even more than the impact of their collective actions. The effects of an organization’s efforts extend well beyond the office today.

More and more companies and leaders understand that just being compliant isn’t enough.

I learn how a job description is such an important piece of the job here. I found this a bit weird because careers are no longer narrowly defined by jobs requirements and skills, but rather through experiences and learning agility.

Rapidly-growing companies constantly upgrade capabilities to meet shifts in employee preferences. These new demands can include new approaches to learning, job design, performance management, and career development just to name a few. No hyperbole, jobs change in real-time every week. It is ridiculous to continue to define and edit everything in a job description. There are other tools to communicate expectations and feedback.

I recently came across a New York Times opinion piece discussing the latest rumblings in Silicon Valley. With culture problems plaguing some of the top tech companies in the Bay, a growing number of organizations are prioritizing compliance, as always, but with an increased emphasis on how it affects their communities.

While these companies have always strived to comply, and do in most cases, they haven’t always factored in the impact on the workforce. Now, some believe Ethics Officers and similar roles could help properly address culture and social issues amongst the team. With their help, the human element could become a more prominent component in consideration.

Taking such steps shows that these organizations take company culture seriously. Their sizable investments should convert offices into ideal environments for employees to thrive in. No “hip culture” wants to emphasize that they value an audit process and performance reviews. Yet, most efficient offices do because it is how a great culture is cultivated. Ongoing feedback and other essentials are how companies and people grow together.

Creating a thriving culture doesn't stop at benefiting the company internally. It causes a ripple effect that reaches its public perception, hiring, enrollment and so much more. So, while people professionals focus more on regulations and law I see more and more thriving companies that emphasizing social Impact and ethics. That’s the way it should be. Complying with the law is needed but is far from the only priority in our profession. If your only focus is preventing lawsuits, then you are not doing your entire job.

Think about how the company operates in an ethical way. How does it treat and value its employees, vendors, clients, users and every person it interacts with?

From Tel Aviv to New York City, today’s top professionals in the industry have their eyes on social impact. Make sure you give the attention it requires.