Compliance and Ethics Training – How Much is Enough

In this podcast panel discussion, OCEG’s Carole Switzer moderates a discussion with ELT’s Shanti Atkins and SAI Global’s Mark Rowe to answer the question of how much is enough when it comes to compliance and ethics training. You can listen to a webcast and read a transcript (.pdf).

Ms. Atkins talks about a three layers of training. The first layer is training that is legally mandatory. One example is sexual harrassment training in some states. The second layer is training related to mandatory guidelines. You are not in violation of law for failing to do the training, but in the event of a problem the failure to have training results in elevated fines, penalties or damages. One example is the federal sentencing guidelines. The third layer is training as a best practice for the organization giving its risk profile.

Ms. Atkins sees extremes between lengthy training sessions that happens at regular intervals, but is not reactive to the company’s needs and is repetitive.  At the other extreme is companies doing the bare minimum.

Ms. Switzer tries to draw a line between generational differences in the workplace at training. Ms. Atkins de-bunks this approach. (In my prior career in Knowledge Management I also did not see generational differences in training. There is just good training and bad training. I see some generational differences in tolerance for bad training.) Mr. Rowe has found story-based training to be more effective. You need to engage them in the training and not just talk at them.

Ms. Atkins sees some problems with scoring learners and keeping track of a database of scores as employees go through the training. One is how you go about following-up and addressing sub-par performers. The second is the potential for that information to be used against the company in a lawsuit.

Handing out a code of conduct and get a signed acknowledgment that an employee read it, is not training. Mr. Rowe emphasized the need to put the information into context, into a real-life situation. He also likes the idea of setting a bar that learners need to prove they understand one topic before they move onto another topic.

Ms. Atkins emphasized the need to keep the training modular so that scenarios can be added and removed and the training can be updated.

Mr. Rowe points out that “ethics training isn’t just a list of rules; it’s guidance that should help people perform their jobs in a better way and reduce risk to the organization.”

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