Overcoming Obstacles to Effective Ethics and Compliance Training

Most organizations recognize the importance of ethics and compliance and the impact it has on business results, brand reputation and employee morale. But an effective ethics and compliance program requires much more than simply drawing up a code of conduct and a set of rules and regulations and hoping for the best. Sufficient training is essential for ensuring that employees and stakeholders 1) understand the importance of ethics and compliance and 2) can identify unethical and non-compliant behavior and know how to avoid it.

However, it can be difficult for organizations to get their employees to take ethics training seriously and to give it the attention it truly deserves. Many employees view ethics and compliance in general as irrelevant to their specific job functions; they tend to see any training that does not improve their job skills and knowledge as a waste of their valuable time.

In this article, we will examine the various hurdles that can reduce the effectiveness of ethics and compliance training and offer tips for how you can overcome them.

Obstacle #1: Employees’ natural resistance to the subject matter.

The concept of ethics and compliance can have negative connotations to employees. Making the training adversarial by placing too much of the focus on the consequences for failing to behave in an ethical manner can cause them to tune out completely. A better approach is to emphasize the benefits of an ethical workplace, such as a more collaborative work environment, better morale, increased productivity and enhanced job satisfaction.

Obstacle #2: Providing training that is not job-specific.

Many organizations attempt to implement a “one-size-fits-all” ethics and compliance training program. The problem with this approach is that you are likely to cover materials that simply are not relevant to some employees. For instance, materials related to bribery and corruption will have little meaning to employees who do not engage in business transaction with third parties. Providing access to job-specific online training materials is one way to customize the training to the different areas of your organization.

Obstacle #3: Not making the training relevant to current ethics and compliance issues.

While the Enron, Tyco and WorldCom accounting scandals of the early 2000s paved the way for the increased focus on ethics and compliance that prevails today, they are now viewed as old news in terms of what is pertinent to today’s work environments. Your staff will get more out of ethics and compliance training if it is applicable to the issues and risks that currently impact your organization and industry.

Obstacle #4: Failing to hold the employees’ attention.

Certain topics – particularly compliance-related subjects that deal with laws, rules and regulations can be somewhat dry in nature. Making the training interactive is a good way to engage employees and is more likely to hold their attention. Using vehicles such as role-playing and case study analysis that require group participation and feedback can be extremely effective training techniques.

Obstacle #5: Holding training sessions that are too long.

Attempting to cover all aspects of ethics and compliance programs and procedures in one extended session is likely to cause attendees to tune out at some point. A more effective approach is to devote shorter individual sessions to specific topics. These sessions should be as brief and concise as possible. Don’t require your staff to take an hour out of their busy day for a topic that can be fully covered in 30 minutes.

Obstacle #6: Not implementing multiple training formats.

Repeatedly using one training format for making visual presentations is likely to result in learner fatigue. Integrating multiple formats and media into the training program is a good way to keep attendees attentive and engaged. Using a combination of slide shows, webinars, videos, animation and motion graphics is much more effective than using just one of these formats on its own.

Obstacle #7: Failure to update training programs and materials.

As with most things that impact your organization, your ethics and compliance needs will evolve over time. Thus, it is imperative to review your ethics and compliance training program on a regular basis to ensure it will continue to meet your changing requirements. Whenever your staff reviews your updated training materials, they should find new, fresh information that wasn’t included previously.

Obstacle #8: Not being passionate about ethics and compliance.

If you are an ethics and compliance professional who is conducting in-person or video conference training, it is essential to display enthusiasm and passion for the subject matter. If you are not passionate about the materials and information you are presenting, you can’t expect attendees to take the subject matter to heart.

Effective Ethics and Compliance Training Begins with a Strong “Tone at the Top”

While taking steps to overcome these common obstacles will improve the results of your ethics and compliance training efforts, your staff will not truly take ethics and compliance seriously unless they have a solid example to follow. The single most important factor in getting employees to recognize the importance of ethics and compliance is when board members, executives and managers make a point of modeling appropriate behavior in their daily activities.

Related Posts

Enter your keyword