In today’s increasingly complex world, compliance risks are more and more impactful to the business. Businesses are challenged to ensure everyone in the extended enterprise avoids wrongdoing, while simultaneously encouraging leaders to take the right risks to grow the business (this is where code of ethics training comes in).
These are the goals of a corporate compliance program. Since everyone you employ needs to realize the company vision, it follows that everyone in the enterprise needs to internalize the limits within which company leadership wants the company to operate. This means abiding by the law and avoiding legal issues, but it may mean operating within even narrower limits if those limits drive better performance.
Business is interested in moving fast. Stopping to review the rules before doing anything is slow. Clearly, that’s not the answer.
Following the rules doesn’t mean reviewing a procedure each time it’s performed. To borrow a sports metaphor, optimal performance is achieved once the rules of the game are internalized and a state of “flow” is achieved. To gain optimal performance in the enterprise, every employee needs to be operating in a state of “flow.” Get in the zone!
When you’re looking at solutions for policy management, training and awareness, it’s tempting to evaluate the features that make the content manager’s life easier: supporting the review and approval process; supporting the editing of policy content; alerting the legal department to changes in the law; and the like.
But first and foremost, the features that matter are the ones that ensure the right person sees the right policies, and they remember what they read!
If your employees don’t internalize your policies and follow them when going about their daily work, your policy system simply isn’t effective.
Effective policy management, code of ethics training, compliance training courses and awareness solutions lead to better engagement and understanding; better quiz scores in the short term; and lower reports of misconduct in the long term. Few would argue that these are not the goals everyone is after.
The primary elements to consider when evaluating a policy management system in the context of ensuring your employees remember what they read include:
• Accessibility: Can your employees find the current company policy and the library it is stored in? Is it available in their language?
• Usability: Once the employee finds the policy library, can they use it? Can they find the policy they’re looking for, or is the search process confusing?
• Engagement: When your employee views a policy, is the look and feel engaging? Is it a wall of text in the same font size, or are there nice breaks and changes of color? Are there videos and pictures? Are employees incentivized to spend some time learning, or to click through as quickly as possible to check the box?
• Mobility: Are your policies accessible from a mobile device while your employees are on the road or using their tablet?
The same applies to your compliance training courses and learning management system. Compliance training courses that your employees don’t learn from are pointless. Similarly, the best courses served in a learning management system that the employee cannot navigate is just as pointless, because employees will still fail to learn the lessons they are trying to teach. The four factors we listed for policy management systems also apply to code of ethics training.
Clients and prospects approach us from a variety of perspectives. Here are a few of the perspectives we hear from companies beginning to evaluate policy management and compliance training solutions:
• Perspective One: The single most important piece of a policy and training system is the reporting capability–which can support defensibility by visualizing the data. It’s worth considering that if the employee’s experience is sub-optimal, those easy-to-generate reports may show partial completion of courses, or completion that doesn’t correlate to reduced observances of misconduct.
• Perspective Two: The content editing features are the most important. It’s critical to remember that the purpose of a policy management system is to communicate company guidelines to the employees, whose behavior puts the company at risk every moment of every day. It really comes down to the relative importance of the policy editing workflow vs. the employee’s ease of accessing and remembering what he or she is assigned to read.
• Perspective Three: We need to is focus on the intricacies of distributing policies and courses. This is the one that has the most merit, in my view. If your policy and training system cannot deliver content to the portion of the organization to whom it applies, they won’t get the message. Without reading the policy or taking the training, they won’t remember the message. There are typically workarounds available to get your content to the audience, though they may take more steps. However, technology is still the most efficient option – just keep in mind that a technology solution cannot make a wall of text visually engaging or make uninteresting content compelling.
At the end of the day, I keep coming back to the employee. If the policy, training and communication efforts don’t arm employees and third parties with the right knowledge, the company isn’t doing its best to reduce risk exposure and optimize business performance.