Why Your Compliance Training Misses the Mark

We are all familiar with headlines exposing fraudulent practices by large and small organizations, as well as lawsuits for unhealthy workplaces that allowed discrimination and harassment to occur. Even with millions of dollars invested in producing Ethics and Compliance training, organizations are overwhelmed by the ineffectiveness of their programs and strategies.

  • The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners confirmed that almost half of fraud cases are never reported publicly and that the average organization loses $3 million in revenue due to fraud.
  • EY found in their 14th Global Fraud Survey that 42% could justify unethical behavior to meet financial targets.
  • EEOC reported in June 2016 that harassment accounted for 43% of reported complaints filed by federal employees. In a similar survey, 81% believed harassment occurs in most businesses today, while 90% don’t believe it happens in their company.

Other sources and surveys can be cited that show there is a disparity between Ethics and Compliance training programs and actual practice. In general, compliance training isn’t providing expected or desired behavioral changes.

The issue doesn’t seem to be in the delivery, whether instructor-led, webinars, online courses or blended learning. The problem may be the strategies used to address the growing challenges in compliance training.

Content Issues with Compliance Training

Ethics and Compliance training is complex and extensive, with a very broad definition. A proper training program should review regulatory compliance, code of conduct, employment law, and information security training. Then there are diverse topics, such as workplace harassment, corruption, and discrimination that need to be addressed, not to mention company-specific policies.

So, it’s clear with these many topics to discuss effectively, a single course cannot adequately meet requirements. But that doesn’t keep some from trying. A recent survey by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) found that:

  • 32% of respondents felt content held their attention.
  • 39% said content was relevant to their work.
  • 44% thought content was informative.

While those numbers are impressive, it still leaves approximately 60% of those surveyed who weren’t as enthusiastic about their training. What would keep the majority of 3000+ employees surveyed from responding favorably?

Having reviewed multiple online compliance courses and attended similar instructor-led events, there may be some appropriate answers to this question, as well as why compliance programs are ineffective.

  • The objective of the training — Much of today’s compliance training is aimed at meeting regulations and mitigating liabilities. Training content is cleverly organized to hit all key topics, with minimal concern about the outcome. The goal of the training is to merely demonstrate to regulators that they’ve fulfilled governmental requirements.
  • The length of the training — It follows naturally, in order to present all required topics, that the courses, whether online or instructor-led, tend to be long and drawn out. No consideration is given to how much information can be absorbed and retained by the adult learner.
  • The outcome of the training — When meeting regulatory requirements is the main objective for compliance training, then the outcome is secondary. Retaining information and fostering behavioral changes aren’t primary. Hotlines, promotional posters, and prevention collateral become the follow-up strategy. While these are all great to have in place, the focus should be in prevention, rather than reporting.

An effective Ethics and Compliance program cannot survive within the framework described above, if it’s to provide more positive outcomes than just meeting regulations. What would a productive and effective Ethics and Compliance program look like?

An engaging compliance program would utilize:

1) Multi-course compliance libraries to address key topics

  • Every topic has at least one course addressing compliance issues.
  • Courses are organized into collections or Learning Paths, assigned proper names to make it easy to identify the collection and their related training.
  • There is content for employees and managers, two distinct roles.

2) Clear objectives to foster a healthy work environment

  • Every collection of related training has clear objectives beyond meeting regulations, which includes desired or appropriate behavior.
  • Each course identifies the specific skill or knowledge to be acquired through the training, ensuring a healthy workplace.

3) A micro-learning strategy to allow easy consumption

  • Courses are 10-minutes or less in length, allowing employees to easily consume training throughout the day, hence the need for a learning Path of short training videos and content.
  • Departments and groups requiring unique information are addressed, since short videos are easy to create.
  • Micro-learning encourages a learning culture. Content is consumed quickly. Employees can digest key points effortlessly, throughout the day whenever there are 10-minute gaps in their schedule.

4) Diversity in its delivery to engage employees

  • Training is delivered in a variety of forms to ensure employees are challenged throughout the learning process, whether online, instructor-led or a combination of the two.
  • Virtual classrooms are used to connect people through webinars and podcasts.
  • Supervisors and instructor conduct On-the-Job training (OBJT) using digital forms to confirm employee received custom training.
  • Training Needs Assessments (TNA) using series of questions are used to automatically generate required training based on answers.
  • Videos from YouTube, Wistia, Vimeo and other streaming services become learning modules that produce history, and can be assigned assessments and surveys.

5) Follow-up to reinforce new skills

  • Training includes documentation, and worksheets for additional activities after the initial course is completed.
  • Automated follow-up emails are sent in user-defined sequences with reinforcement materials, such as a quiz, checklist, and/or a best-practice worksheet.
  • Employees receive tip-of-the-day for the various compliance topics, encouraging them to engage in appropriate behavior.

Call to Action: Reassess Your Compliance Program

The objective of any Ethics and Compliance program is to prevent misconduct by helping employees understand rules and regulations, and then enable them to put it into daily practice. Offering compliance training just to satisfy regulations may no longer suffice.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has already made it clear, in the Justice Manual, what a prosecutor asks when they investigate an organization:

  • Is the corporation’s compliance program well designed?
  • Is the program being applied earnestly and in good faith? In other words, is the
    program being implemented effectively?
  • Does the corporation’s compliance program work in practice?

A checklist approach of discussing compliance topics and securing confirmation that employees completed their training is no longer enough. And yet, in a recent survey among Chief Compliance Officers (CCO), 80% don’t use technology or automated tools to track and measure compliance training.

Organizations that secure signed statements from employees that they had read and understood the company’s policies may legally terminate an employee who disregard the rules. However, a signature doesn’t mean employees know how to apply polices in their daily routine.

The Ethics and Compliance Initiative (ECI) stated that “once organizations realize they’ve fallen into a compliance gap, they may already be well on their way to incurring costly fines and penalties.”

The time to reassess your Ethics and Compliance training is now, both content and the delivery system used to deploy and track the training. Use the five characteristics of a productive and effective program described above and compare what you are doing now.

Utilize off-the-shelf courses to deliver quality online training for topics where generic information meets or exceeds requirements. This allows ample resources, time and money to produce training requiring specific data.

In full disclosure and desire to be transparent, the Ability Platform library and delivery system were used as the source to describe the five characteristics of a productive and effective compliance program. Their library of 2,500+ micro-learning lessons, along with a learning system easy to use, is worth investigating.

There are 100+ Learning Paths available in Ability Platform. Each collection of related video-based lessons is organized for you by subject matter experts, so you can start immediately to improve your skills. Build your own collection, and include your custom courses, policies and standard operating procedures (SOP) to produce the proper learning environment for generating top-performers.

Remember, our mission is for you to become a top performer in your industry. Don’t have access to the 100+ Learning Paths? Then register for a Free 7-Day Trial and start today. Change the way you deliver compliance training!

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