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How to Create a Culture of Compliance in the Organization

May 26, 2022 | By David Wentworth


How to Create a Culture of Compliance in the Organization

The Challenge

In Brandon Hall Group’s 2021 HCM Outlook Study, 45% of companies indicated that they would be making a moderate to heavy investment in compliance training through the end of 2022, signifying its continued importance to the business. Yet most organizations are still taking a parochial, narrow view of compliance training, using it only to meet regulatory requirements and certify employees in their roles. Only about one-third of companies in Brandon Hall Group’s Reimagining Compliance Training Study say they are also looking at compliance training as an opportunity to further their employees’ development.

Companies aren’t taking a more strategic view of compliance training because they aren’t expecting strategic, business-focused outcomes from it. The vast majority of organizations simply want to meet their regulatory requirements, avoid risk, and provide a safe work environment. And while these are worthy, noble goals, companies could be doing so much more with the time and energy put into compliance training by both learners and the organization.

The Rethink

The implications of the traditional approach to compliance training are clear: The process is seen as boring, tiresome, and even intrusive by the workforce. It is not being used as an opportunity to engage learners. And while organizations might meet regulatory compliance goals by mandating the training, they have little to no idea if people are really acting upon their compliance-related skills and knowledge.

Compliance training must have a stronger connection to the business than regulations or obligations. Even the most basic compliance area has some impact on the business. For example, sexual harassment training cannot be delivered to merely meet some government mandate. Its purpose is to make the company a better place to work for everyone. “Because I said so” won’t work for other types of learning, so it shouldn’t be the driver for compliance.

The Recommendation 

What Brandon Hall Group has to Say About EI’s Solution

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Platinum Preferred Provider EI has worked with numerous organizations in high consequence industries where compliance and meeting regulatory requirements are critical. They can leverage their proven approach used for other types of learning and help organizations create engaging, impactful compliance training that is seen as more than a necessary evil.  The ultimate goal is to create a culture of compliance, where learners recognize the value of compliance training both to themselves and to the business.

To build this kind of culture, EI recommends the following steps:

Build awareness. Don’t simply push compliance training on learners. Provide the context and the significance of the upcoming training to get learners engaged early.

Change the tone and approach to compliance training. Most employees don’t learn the significance or implications of compliance training until after it is over – if at all. Provide this information in a clear and concise format, avoiding jargon and legalese. Elements that should be provided include:

  • The reasons for the compliance guidelines
  • The implications of non-compliance
  • The consequences not just for the leaner, but also for the business

Build in some flexibility. One of compliance training’s biggest challenges is that it has traditionally been rigid and unforgiving. Using a variety of learning approaches makes it much more learner-friendly.  It doesn’t hurt to provide the required flexibility to the learners through a combination of approaches. Leveraging self-paced, mobile, and microlearning options can make it more accessible on the learner’s terms, and at their pace. This mitigates some of the compulsory feel of compliance training.

Use innovative formats. In today’s modern environment, there are few instances where compliance training has to conform to one single format or approach. While there are still some areas where external agencies require a certain amount of classroom time or eLearning, the goals of most compliance training can be met via different modalities. EI’s clients have been having success with approaches that include:

  • Partial Gamification
  • Gamification
  • Microlearning
  • Personalization

Reinforce the training. After training, follow-up is critical. Completing the training does not automatically translate into the proper behaviors. Present learners with scenarios in which they have to demonstrate that they have internalized the training. Use assessments to determine if learners both understand the training and can apply it. A threaded approach where each subsequent question builds on the previous questions can keep learners engaged and drive understanding and retention.

To build and sustain a culture of compliance, organizations must do much more than push out mandatory training. It requires a new outlook on compliance. EI helps organizations create a change in mindset from the top down that then translates into behavior changes. They can help create an awareness and a sense of purpose around compliance training, making it more integral to the employee experience. Their tools and approaches sustain the momentum required to make compliance training a continuous learning process.

By treating compliance training the way successful companies treat other types of learning, organizations can drive higher compliance rates and stronger behavior changes in areas that are critical to the organization’s success.

David Wentworth, Principal Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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