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Apr 2014

Market update April 2014: compliance training

Blog posts

Steve Lowenthal

Steve Lowenthal

CEO at Kineo US

In early April, Kineo gathered fifty learning executives in New York to contemplate "whether compliance training is really training?", and other questions. There was a strong voice in the room that what most of us pass off as ‘training’ isn’t, in fact, training at all, but a ‘distribution of information’, a ’necessary evil’ or a ‘re-hash’ year over year. Not a glowing review. We decided to take a closer look at compliance training – what’s needed, what people want and what we should do more of.

State of the Training

Industry research corroborates this feeling of malaise. According to LRN’s 2013 Ethics & Compliance Leadership Survey, the highest percent of respondents (60%) identified online education fatigue as their number one challenge. And a joint Kineo – eLearning Industry survey echoed these sentiments:

  • Only 28% rate their compliance program as above average or better
  • 78% identify more engaging content and design as something they’d like to improve about their current program (here you’ll find our latest tips for doing just that)

It's Here to Stay, so Can We Make It Better?

Like death and taxes, compliance and compliance training aren’t going away. The past several years have seen a significant increase in new regulations and enforcement of regulations in the US. In response, according to the LRN’s annual benchmark:

  • Companies have increased their investment in compliance programs by 23% over the past 2 years to over $54,000 per 1000 employees per year
  • Education and communication represent 27% of this spend or over $14,000 per 1000 employees
  • Online learning is a mainstay of current compliance practice with large companies delivering an average of 3.041 hours of online training per employee

So we can expect to see more, not less compliance training, and proportionately more elearning. How can we make sure that the quality goes up as well as the quantity?

Put the "Me" in Compliance Training

So where do we go from here? In our April Konnect session, two themes emerged:

  1. Campaign for change: We can’t take for granted that employees are empty vessels waiting to be filled with compliance knowledge. We need to engage our audience and win them over as willing partners, moving them from reluctant learners to an engaged audience.
  2. Design for engagement: When we do training we need to make it relevant and meaningful. Respondents to the Kineo - eLearning Industry survey strongly reinforced this sentiment with 85% responding that company-relevance is important or very important to the success of their program.

The second is all about design best practices.

But as we’ve said many times before – there’s no point designing a great compliance learning experience if people aren’t bought in to doing it. You need a communications and engagement plan to get people willing and engaged. So here's a few more words about engagement, based on our event discussions.

Engaging Strategically To Get Compliance Buy-In

If we want to engage employees in the compliance cause, we’ll need to come up with a plan. Here are three elements we identified to consider as you draft your compliance training and communication strategy:

1. Define the Value Proposition

Let’s be honest, most of us strike one chord with our compliance message – Be Compliant! While, of course, this is our goal, an effective compliance message needs to connect the organizations goals and with the employees' mantra - “What’s in it for me”?

This is all about designing a campaign and thinking like a marketing professional. Think about consistently branding your compliance program - print material, intranet sites, training, etc – with a cohesive message that includes your employees point of view, the reasons they chose to work for you and the goals of the organization.

Here are a couple of good examples from companies we all know well:

  • Apple: Business Conduct: The way we do business worldwide
  • Marriott: Our tradition of integrity
  • Zappos: Living our Core Values

A lot of our compliance work starts with the design of a communications strategy with the value proposition at its heart. How do we go beyond box ticking to real behavior change? 

2. Repetition Works

Kineo had the privilege to work with Warner Bros on their information security awareness campaign. While eLearning was part of their solution, the success of their program came not from one element but from the cumulative effect of their full program that included: a series of short videos, movie-themed posters, an intranet site, QR coded candy and more.

Needless to say they got the attention of the organization and more importantly they impacted behavior – 86% said the campaign increased their awareness and 37% said the campaign changed the way they work. The good news is we all don’t need to be budding, young Steven Spielbergs or have his budgets to achieve these results.

What we do need to do is keep in mind what Will Thalheimer coined the spacing effect – two or more repetitions of the same learning point produces more learning. The repetition can be as simple as a quiz, an email, an infographic, a short story or anything else that reinforces the point. The key point is that you drive behavior change by using lots of channels, and doing it little and often.

Find out more about how we’ve designed campaigns in this slideshare.

3. Recognize Success

Everyone knows when things go wrong, but what about when things go right? If our goal is to create an ethical culture and bring about behavior change, then why not celebrate behaviors that exemplify this culture as part of the compliance message. You can highlight community service, a particularly diverse work group, exceptional care extended to a client and more.

This means being responsive and listening to your audience, and having a channel to share successes with your audience. Those might be forums, social media, whatever works in your organization. By making it a two way discussion, you remove the parental tone that so often comes with a compliance focus.

From Strategy to Tactics: Design Best Practices

So now you have an engaged employee base. Now you need to double down on the engagement with a great design. 

Quality - Let's Go For It

So the key messages coming from the US Market are:

  • We all know we have to keep doing compliance training
  • Most people feel they could be doing a lot better

Fortunately, from our event and talking to many of you, there’s a real will to improve quality, impact and engagement in compliance.

Nobody owns all the expertise here - share your insights, inspirations and experience with us in the eLearning Professionals Group on LinkedIn or leave us your comments below.

Steve Lowenthal

Steve Lowenthal

CEO at Kineo US

Steve Lowenthal has over 15 years of experience in Learning Technologies in consultancy, sales and management roles. He's a regular speaker at US conferences and events on trends in LMS, elearning and technology.

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