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How to Build a Culture of Compliance and Drive Positive Behavior Change in Your Learners

October 6, 2021 | By Asha Pandey


How to Build a Culture of Compliance and Drive Positive Behavior Change in Your Learners

Compliance requires behavioral change that is precipitated by employee understanding of why compliance matters. And that can’t happen through one-off training. In this article, I outline learning strategies that will create a culture of compliance.

Why Is a Culture of Compliance the Need of the Hour?

Today’s remote work model has redefined how companies monitor and enforce compliance, creating a need to reimagine training around it.

When employees work remotely, misconduct and non-compliance are often difficult to monitor and analyze. Part of the challenge might be attributable to inherent barriers in communicating with a remote workforce.

In a fast-paced world, when changing compliance narratives aren’t appropriately communicated, explained, or understood, compliance disconnects may arise. As a result, the acts of individual (or a few) employees may significantly impact the organization’s culture of compliance. This makes compliance training more critical in a work model that’s a paradigm shift from what we have been used to until now.

Why Should Building a Culture of Compliance Be a Part of Your Core Training Strategy?

Compliance is not an option. From government regulatory bodies to professional and ethical standards, organizations, and international quality assurance watchdogs – they all have mandates that participating organizations must comply with. Training the workforce in compliance yields other tangible and intangible rewards:

  • Most compliance requirements often make businesses more competitive.
  • A compliant organization is often well-regarded within their domains and earn peer and customer appreciation as a result.
  • While compliance might add operational (unit) cost, because of the training and implementation efforts, it also provides pricing power to compliant organizations.
  • Training the entire workforce on compliance mandates prevents costly lawsuits, litigations, and regulatory penalties.

In fact, most businesses owe their very existence to compliance. Without being compliant, businesses might not have the legal standing to continue operating. Non-compliance by individual employees might jeopardize a company’s future, and therefore, instilling a culture of compliance through compliance training must be a part of every organization’s core training strategy.

What Factors Can Enable You in Creating a Culture of Compliance?

Organizations cannot mandate a compliance culture. It requires embracing fundamental change, at all levels of the company, to embrace compliance:

  1. Mindset change: To make compliance a part of the organization’s culture requires a mindset change – beginning at the highest levels of management down to the lowest rungs of the company.
  2. Behavioral change: Embracing compliance requires a paradigm change in organization-wide behavior. To become compliant often requires not just thinking differently, but also doing things or behaving differently.
  3. Creating awareness and a strong sense of purpose: In these times, when a significant number of the workforce operates remotely, it’s understandable that employees may waiver on thoughts about compliance and follow through with negative behavioral change. The only way to deal with those possible lapses is by ingraining compliance awareness into a strong org-wide psyche.
  4. Sustaining the momentum through continuous learning: Compliance is continuous – and not just a seasonal or cyclical mandate. It therefore requires an equally continuous learning strategy to sustain over the long term.

Discrete compliance training programs don’t leverage all the above factors and, therefore, aren’t ideal to produce positive behavior changes across the workforce. The most effective way to instill a corporate culture of compliance is to integrate and indoctrinate it as part of a comprehensive training strategy.

What Strategies Can Help You Build a Culture of Compliance Through Your Workforce Training Programs?

Periodic or one-off training programs are ineffective when it comes to building an organization-wide, sustained culture of compliance. This is especially true when you have a widely dispersed remote workforce. What’s required is a sustained compliance awareness training program aimed at bringing about compliant behavioral change. Five strategies to consider include:

  1. Continuous learning: Compliance training shouldn’t be a “one and done” thing! The strategy must include continuous communication and ongoing outreach campaigns to create compliance awareness. One way to foster positive change, and to sustain learning momentum and encourage continuous learning, is to create communities of practice – by bringing together groups of like-minded employees – through social learning platforms.
  2. Immersive, experiential, and personalized learning: These strategies bring “fun and play” to work to improve decision making, reinforce a culture of compliance, and drive positive behavioral change.
  3. Microlearning and Just-in-Time learning (JIT learning): Employees, especially when they’re working remotely, frequently revert to the “norm” (their non-compliant form). Microlearning and JIT learning are great “gentle reminder” strategies and work by leveraging the power of nudges to form (and maintain) compliant habits.
  4. Blended learning: Within a corporate learning ecosystem, blended learning strategies, which incorporate mentoring and coaching sessions along with regular feedback (positive and corrective), are proven to enhance a culture of compliance and reinforce positive change.
  5. Accessibility considerations: In a hybrid workplace, it’s vital to give thought to how to make your learning programs universal. Whether your employees work on-site or off, your eLearning offerings must comply with the accessibility guidelines laid out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Offering accessible learning will ensure that compliance training complies with the ADA, so that employees with special needs can access it and participate in the org-wide culture of compliance too.

Implementing these strategies will go a long way to promote a cross-organizational compliance mandate. However, the key to successful implementation is to integrate compliance training within your overall corporate training strategy, and not make it an add-on offering.

Parting Thoughts

Independent, stand-alone compliance training programs aren’t as effective at creating positive behavioral change as would an integrated L&D strategy. The best way to build, and sustain, a compliance culture is to weave compliance within a corporate-wide training strategy, making compliance a core segment of such a strategy. Doing anything less than that risks employees misunderstanding the role of compliance within the organization and won’t generate the positive behavior change required to make compliance a second nature.

I hope the learning strategies in this article provide the requisite insights on how you can use them to create a culture of compliance.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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