Top down, bottom up, how to get buy in for compliance in the times of pandemics

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At Nimonik, we regularly remind our partners, customers and team that Regulations and standards exist to bring about behaviour that would not naturally occur.

As we all know, humans are not robots – far from it – and getting compliance to a rule can be very, very challenging. In this time of pandemics, where the actions of one person can severely impact an entire family, community, society or even the world – compliance to regulations is absolutely critical. But, how do you actually get people to comply when a small portion do not want to and their negative impact can be very large.


More and more countries are imposing penalties for non-compliance to self-isolation regulations and rules. Fines range from $250 in France for a first offence to $50,000 and six months in jail in Australia for repeated offences. There is no question that fines work and are effective. Of course, they must be enforced strictly and fairly. However, fines alone are not enough.


If fines are the stick then rewards are the carrot. The reward for successful self-isolation is your own health and those you come into contact with. This benefit can seem abstract and difficult to quantify. For the same reason we indulge in unhealthy habits – junk food, alcohol, drugs, etc. – we are unlikely to be motivated by the absence of something (sickness). To ensure people realize that their actions are helping and they are staying in compliance, we need to send constant reminders about the success of self isolation and thank people for their cooperation. As time wears on, we will find it more and more difficult to stay in isolation. Constant positive reinforcement for your entire team is critical to the success of this type of initiative.

Action: If you are a leader in your organization, send a short video to your team thanking them for doing their part to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Repeat this weekly (or more), repetition is key.

The Why

Why compliance matters is the most critical message that you need to communicate to your team. Too often, we assume that people understand why something is being done. In reality most people do not have the context that is informing an action. Over-communication on the why is critical and it is hard. you need to ensure you communicate it in as many ways as possible and with as many tools as you can – make videos, write documents, and provide concrete examples. This video by Simon Sinek explains well the power of Why.

The most powerful way to get compliance is to engage in all three at the same time. While not easy, if you manage to effectively combine the why with fair punishments and clear rewards, you can get your colleagues and customers to effectively comply. Remember that punishments are very expensive – you need to create them, apply them and then collect the money. You also can alienate people with too much punishment or punishment they feel is unfair. Our last tip is to do anything you can do to reduce non-compliance before it happens – it will pay huge dividends.

Nimonik wishes you the best of luck in this challenging time and we remain here to help implement compliance programs at your organization ( for more information).