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How to Ensure Compliance Training is Not Merely a “Check-the-box” Activity

Often, organizations have a misconception that compliance training is an event, not an activity that needs to be taken forward. It has much more to it than a mere ‘read and sign’ approach. You cannot train your employees on compliance by merely showing a slideshow or assigning an E-learning course that allows them to click Next. Any training program that fails to engage your employees cannot be deemed successful. It is a mere waste of time. It amounts to spending valuable work hours on training just for the sake of fulfilling legal obligations, and not for yielding results. 

Why is it important for organizations to offer effective compliance training? 

To defend your company’s reputation
Can you imagine the risk you invite by not training your employees on compliance issues? It can damage your reputation and leave your organization bruised for life. Let us say, one of your employees found a pen drive in the office parking lot and out of curiosity, went on to check it on his work laptop, only to realize it was virus-infected. In such a case, you are at a high risk of either data loss or a breach. That’s the price you pay for not training your employees properly on compliance. In such cases, even a message stating the importance of compliance from the senior management, a CEO or the Director, can boost up employee morale and encourage them to take the training seriously.

To assess your training

You need to evaluate your compliance training from time to time and update it as per the current laws and regulations. A regular update of your compliance training will also offer you an opportunity to enhance the design of the training and the content included. Trainings on compliance topics such as Insider trading, Code of Conduct, etc. need to be given annually and refresher trainings should also be provided so that employees retain what they learn. For a well-designed training program, you need to evaluate the training needs of your organization by surveying or interviewing your senior managers and Subject Matter Experts. Apart from that, you also need to analyze the areas violations have occurred in the past. This would help you identify the areas to be emphasized and focused on in the training. Assume you noticed a few hiccups in your Confidential Information or Conflicts of Interest compliance in the past; you may want to intensify the training in those areas. 

To build up a compliance culture 

If you want to successfully train your employees on compliance, you need to develop a compliance culture. There should be awareness about the compliance programs and the intent of the company towards them should be communicated to employees. They should be educated on the significance of compliance training so that they know what they are doing and also why they are doing it. You can display posters in all common places in your workplace such as the cafeteria, conference halls, etc. To increase awareness of the compliance culture, you can even conduct open house discussions on complex compliance topics and invite your employees to participate. You need to ensure their ideas and thoughts are considered and conveyed to the senior management if they are worth sharing.

How to ensure compliance training truly serves its purpose?

To ensure all your employees comply with the laws and regulations of your industry is a daunting task. But case studies, interactive games, scenarios and microlearning can help you reach there. Let us see how!

Keep it precise through case studies and examples

Employees learn best when they are given simple and clear examples of how to comply with the organization’s laws and what happens when they don’t. You can take them through some case studies which share the occurrence of ethical breaches such as theft, fraud, safety violations, etc. that occurred in organizations. You can help them understand the situations or factors that led to the breach so that they know what to do and what not to do to keep the workplace ethical-breach free. By sharing case studies with your workforce, you can ask them to share their thoughts on how they would have reacted if placed in similar situations. That gives them an opportunity to reflect on what they heard and learned from the case studies. They should be allowed to express their opinions about how the situations mentioned in the case studies could have been handled better. 

Make it interactive through a game-based approach

When you want your employees to learn a serious topic like compliance, you need to give them a reason to take the training. A traditional classroom training or a dull e-learning course would lull them to sleep. Hence, you can opt for an online training program that has game elements incorporated in it. Game-based learning keeps them engaged and motivates them to do better. It offers challenges and rewards. Challenges attract them and rewards motivate them. For instance, a safety training program, when infused with game elements, draws the learner to the training in spite of the dry subject. A game-based learning course is designed where an employee needs to escape out of a workplace on fire. It prompts the employees to learn the correct exit procedure in case of a fire incident. They should know to avoid the lifts and use the staircase; to rush to a common, designated area where all employees are supposed to gather on such occasions. During the course, whenever he misses out to opt for the right action, he loses points. Then he gets immediate feedback on why he was wrong or right. This kind of immediate response lets him learn better and retain the knowledge for long.

Ensure relevance through real life scenarios

Scenarios give your employees an opportunity to experience the real life situations that they may face in their work. For instance, if you want to train your employees on Conflicts of Interest (CoI) compliance, you can give them a scenario between an employee and a competitor. In one of the test cases, the employee supports the competitor intentionally for his personal gains. You can show another case where an employee misses out on taking permission before working for a competitor. Such cases compel your employees to think before they proceed. These scenarios help them discern whether what they do is accurate or inaccurate. They are given various options to choose from and this selection lets them think what is right and what is not. They receive immediate feedback irrespective of the right or the wrong answer, and it helps them get an in depth understanding of the COI compliance.

Reinforce training with Microlearning

Any training, when not reinforced, has a tendency to fade out; whether it is an article on workplace safety you read yesterday or a Conflict of Commitment compliance session you attended last week. Any knowledge you acquire needs to be reinforced before it is completely lost. And what reinforces better than a Microlearning module? Imagine you had given a traditional online training course on sexual harassment compliance to your workforce sometime back. After a spaced interval, you can show them a Microlearning video on the same topic. This way, you succeed in closing the knowledge gaps that had widened due to the passage of time.

Though your workforce dreads compliance training due to its lack luster appeal, you can elevate their interest levels by incorporating learning techniques such as scenario-based learning, game-based learning, Microlearning, etc. You can even use case studies and examples where organizations not compliant with the laws and regulations faced the consequences. These approaches to deliver compliance training in the organization can be effective only when your workforce is conveyed the essence of why compliance training is significant. If your employees understand why they have to comply with compliance, they will take compliance training seriously. For those who think compliance training is just a check-the-box activity that can be pursued once a year and ignored the rest of the year, they need to have a serious relook at their compliance training.

The purpose of compliance training is not fulfilling legal obligations but realizing the compliance goals.

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