Modern Employees Force the Evolution of Ethics & Compliance Programs

December 11, 2018 Rebecca Turco

Ethics and compliance programs continue to mature and become more sophisticated, evolving beyond a check-the-box activity into a core element of corporate culture, reputational protection, integrated risk management, and competitive differentiation. That metamorphosis can be attributed to: 

1. The growth of ethics and compliance as a function within organizations; and

2. The evolution of the employees consuming training experiences as part of their time spent working. 

Both factors are driving a focus on a learner-centric approach to ethics and compliance programs, which is perhaps most concisely defined as 'a strategy that's driven by your audience, their context and their needs.'

The six principles of people-centered eLearning, outlined below, align with conversations I've had with our clients around the world, research being published by our industry, and what was discussed during the October 2018 SCCE annual conference in Las Vegas.

image source: Elucidat 'People-Centered Learning 2018 Report'


This approach is considerably different from the origins of corporate ethics and compliance, just 28 years ago, built on a strategy of regulatory oversight, laws and punishment. This hasn't been pushed aside. Rather, the past three decades has taught us balance is essential in a program that is measurably effective. It is that universal alignment around the importance of the learner's experience and regulatory compliance principles that drove SAI Global's EthicsAnywhere philosophy around E&C programs. This focus on the intersection of a learner-centric methodology and modern technology redefines what training and program effectiveness can look like. 


An Expert POV: Good and Bad E&C Training

In a new paper published by the eLearning Guild in 2018, Creating Compliance Training Learners Will Love, ten experienced professionals, focused on compliance training and adult learning, share their insights and commentary on this topic. The 20-page piece is loaded with insights that boil down to a practical definition of what makes E&C training good and bad in today's environment, and how the best training debunks the reputation E&C has earned in the past and begins to change in the future. 

  • 'Bad' E&C training is overly-focused on legal requirements, prioritizes information over scenarios, equates exposure to learning, overlooks importance of design, rewards memorization, and does not frame training through the context of the work people actually do.
  • 'Good' E&C training relates to each learner, is applicable to challenges and scenarios they face, leverages original approaches to delivery and communication, and focuses on specific outcomes and goals.

“I don't know that it has to be splashy and flashy, but it has to hold interest and feel real in some way. What will somebody remember? You've got to engage, reinforce, retain.”
-Rashelle Tanner, Director of Compliance Training at Microsoft

What is considered 'bad' E&C training today by this panel of experts was once considered good enough. However, expectations have evolved - and so have the people at the heart of them. 


Modern Learners Need Modern Training

The evolution of the employee, effectively documented in a new viral infographic from marketing legend Larry Kim, is instrumental to unpack the evolution of the modern workplace, and as a result, modern ethics and compliance programs.

While employees have traditionally been confined to the 9-5 workday, that's increasingly becoming the exception, not the rule. When we work is changing, and so is where we work, and how we accomplish our goals. Productivity and collaboration are no longer limited to a computer, desk, or office, thanks to the proliferation of connectivity and accessibility and portability of email and projects. How we learn and grow as individuals has improved, thanks to data and technology that understands who we are, what we know and what we need to know. 

For ethics and compliance professionals, these changes are significant: 

1. If learners work anytime and work anywhere, their exposure to risk and situations where ethics and compliance violations occur are no longer confined to four office walls and the hours they're there. The majority of E&C programs today are not delivering content on mobile devices, but every trend suggests making training and resources about risks available when they're needed, at the right time and place, is inevitable and necessary.

2. If learners are constantly on the go, and time is being spent in different ways than in the past, how we spend our time with E&C must adapt to those behavioral changes too.  Shorter E&C training has been trending for years, and all signs point to that continuing, because according to LinkedIn and other researchers, the number one barrier for learners to consume new information is time.


3. If learners are accustomed to deeply personalized and specific experiences in their lives, this expectation is bound to become embedded in interactions with ethics and compliance in the workplace. That level of personalization opens new doors to analysis and measurement, because a generic, 'one-size-fits-all' E&C experience is likely to provide generic data about the effectiveness of an E&C program too.

Research here, including the six principles of people-centered eLearning, identifies key trends that will change how each individual (and learner) in your organization accomplishes their goals. The tricky thing about trends is they're a lot like a wave - sometimes you're early to hop on and find yourself looking back, and sometimes you're late to notice and the reality of your decision crashes down on you. When you get the timing right, it can propel you forward with a rush of positive energy and momentum. For ethics and compliance professionals waiting for the right opportunity to modernize their program, the time is now. 

To read more about our EthicsAnywhere offering, click below




About the Author

As VP of Learning, Rebecca Turco was a leader in SAI Global Risk Compliance & Ethics’ global compliance and ethics solutions portfolio. She helps transform the way organizations think about compliance programs and how they reach and impact learners. She is passionate about transforming company cultures and enabling employees feel empowered and educated to do the right thing.

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