When an employee joins a new organization, one of the first experiences they have during the onboarding process is with ethics and compliance training. Beyond communicating critical information to help the company maintain regulatory compliance, these trainings are an opportunity for the business to demonstrate the culture and values the workforce is expected to uphold.
Delivering a strong introduction to your corporate culture requires several consistent practices and multiple stakeholders. Starting during the recruiting process and persisting as an ongoing discipline, corporate culture needs to be created from the top-down and infused throughout the organization. One crucial component to corporate culture is ethics and compliance – and as a first introduction to your organization’s stance on E&C, is its training program.
Why is Ethics and Compliance Training Important?
E&C training includes conduct, compliance, employment law and information security training. This broad definition includes topics as diverse as workplace harassment, diversity, equity and inclusion, code of conduct, cybersecurity and anti-bribery and corruption. Further, all forms of training on E&C topics – including eLearning, email, in-person, virtual, blended and instructor-led – are also included.
Beyond the cultural touch point E&C training offers, effective training can help your organization:
- Create a culture of ethics and respect through clearly outlining cultural priorities
- Efficiently provide employees with information they need to know to do their job
- Prevent misconduct by communicating expectations definitively
- Establish a legal defense in the event of a misstep
- Avoid litigation altogether by establishing and practicing an ethical and compliant culture
Though legal standards on what compliance training must include, certain best practices will help your organization maintain compliance. After all, going beyond “check-the-box” requirements and the minimum requirements should be a goal for any organization that strives for ethics and compliance as a core cultural value.
How Mature is Your E&C Program?
Whether just getting started or reevaluating, the most important step is to identify your program’s maturity. This will inform your program’s objectives, identify weak spots, and determine how much budget you will need to advance your program maturity.
To that end, NAVEX partnered with the Ethics and Compliance Initiative to provide a free Ethics, Risk, and Compliance Maturity Assessment. To learn more about the state of your program, take the assessment here.
NAVEX aligns with the ECI High-Quality Program maturity model, using the following ratings to categorize E&C program maturity:
- Underdeveloped: Ethics and Compliance program activities do not exist or are not foundational to the organization; where programs do exist, they are decentralized
- Defining: Ethics and Compliance program is established, but is not embraced by the organization and operates tactically
- Adapting: Ethics and Compliance program is beginning to embed with accountability assigned for key ethics and compliance risks; consistency is lacking
- Managing: Ethics and Compliance is embedded with program controls and procedures operating as an integral part of business processes
- Optimizing: Program activities follow best practice in Ethics and Compliance program management, and externally exhibits leadership in the field
Most people reading this blog would probably state that achieving an optimized and consistent E&C program is the end goal. And yet, survey data from the 2022 Definitive Risk & Compliance Benchmark Report reveals that only 62% of organizations have a Risk & Compliance training plan in place.
If the old adage, “those who fail to plan, plan to fail,” rings true, it’s worth asking yourself where your organization truly falls – both on the maturity spectrum and in completeness of E&C training plans.
Survey data from the 2022 Definitive Risk & Compliance Benchmark Report reveals that only 62% of organizations have a Risk & Compliance training plan in place.
Elements of a High-Quality Program
Deciding how often you should train is not an exact science. And although there is no single universal standard, there are two simple terms – periodic and effective – found in a wide array of regulations and guidance. In implementing training that is both periodic and effective, organizations reap the benefits while maintaining regulatory compliance.
Another important factor is to implement risk-based training. While this is a requirement by the U.S. DOJ, all organizations can benefit from using this strategy. Regulators will want to know if, from a risk-based perspective, is your organization sufficiently training the right people on the right topics? If the answer is not a resounding “yes,” there is work to be done.
Exploring the Impact of Training
The values communicated in ethics and compliance training, the quality of the training content, and strategically targeted training topics all interplay to help shape the culture of your organization. Between the values espoused in the code of conduct and the material represented in E&C training, these initial touch points are cultural drivers for the company.
Creating a culture of ethics, compliance and respect starts in the recruiting process, through onboarding and into the employee’s career. Periodically refreshing the workforce on subjects applicable to them that demonstrate the company’s values, with quality training is one of the many tools in the toolbox used to build and propagate culture.
Not to be ignored is the strong correlation between culture and reputation. When culture is prioritized, profitability will follow – and those organizations that believe otherwise risk “above the fold” new stories exposing a toxic culture. Organizations with strong workplace culture generally experience better retention and satisfaction and have a positive perceived reputation. While both may be difficult to calculate the tangible value, companies with those attributes typically have better performance.
No matter the longevity of your ethics and compliance training program, it’s never a bad idea to take a fresh look with the lens of a strong culture as a desired outcome. For more information on how to demonstrate value and plan, implement and measure your E&C Training Program:
Download the Definitive Guide to Ethics & Compliance Training