Four Surprising Ethics & Compliance Training Statistics

I had the pleasure of presenting on surprising employee training statistics last week with Michael Kallens of Booz Allen Hamilton at the annual Compliance Week conference. The efficacy and impact of training is obviously an issue companies struggle with, given the feedback and the gratifyingly packed room. The fact is that regulatory pressures are impacting the way most of us train our employees. We are no longer afforded the luxury of training all employees on all topics—it just doesn’t work anymore!

With a decrease in training budgets, an increase in risks and a workforce that demands mobile access, organizations are reengineering their training approach. Here are a few key statistics we went over and considerations to help you evaluate whether it’s time to update your organization’s training program.

Statistic #1: 24% of a compliance department’s budget is dedicated to training.

Considerations: How do you make the most of your piece of the budget pie? Be strategic in your course selections and have a plan/curriculum map. Understand your organization’s specific risk areas. A focused approach will help you balance the quality vs. quantity challenge and will lead to budget efficiencies. Remember: large libraries do not automatically reduce your risks, it really is how you use that library that matters the most and will give you the most bang for your buck.

Statistic #2: 53% of decision-makers in organizations listed having limited hours available for training as one of their top two program challenges.


  • To make the most of the time available, align your organization’s risks with the roles in the organization most likely to be exposed to those risks (curriculum mapping process).
  • Keep the end game in mind. Are you trying to demystify the compliance function or are you really trying to delve into a specific risk area? Be sure to align the use of humor with the objective and your organization’s culture. Too many organizations overdo the humor and the lesson is lost.
  • Consider varying your delivery methods, alternating between in-person and online training for your high-risk audiences.
  • Use shorter training vignettes to drive targeted messages in an engaging manner. These tools are great for mobile audiences.
  • Don’t forget awareness! Too many organizations approach training as a “one and done” event. But the message has to be regularly repeated in order for it to fully take root in the organization’s culture.
  • Lastly, really make an effort to know your audience. What will work for Location A, may not work for Location B. Consider cultural differences. If conducting in-person training in a location where business casual is the norm, consider having the facilitator adopt the dress code. It sounds pretty insignificant, but it isn’t; employees take note of the small things.

Statistic #3:  35% of employees will report to their supervisors before raising the issue elsewhere.

Considerations: The use of managers in training–and as part of your overall ethics & compliance program–is critical to your program’s success.  The influence that your managers have to help drive your ethical messaging is invaluable to the organization. Managers are your first line of defense! Be sure to equip them with the content and training they need to deliver the messages to their direct reports. Invest in the development of train the trainer content (i.e., FAQs, Facilitation Guides, etc.) that can be updated and deployed on a regular basis. Also, be sure to create continuing education opportunities by sharing sanitized case studies and other timely material on a regular basis.

In addition, while supervisors/managers are key to the success of your training program, don’t forget these same managers, executive staff and board members likely pose the most risk to your organization.  Too many organizations make the assumption that these audiences inherently know what to do.  This is not the case.  These individuals usually have specific areas of expertise, yet are responsible for understanding the organization’s broader risk picture.  No small task.  Take an empathetic approach to training these audiences and truly tailor the content to their roles.  If possible, avoid overloading this audience with online training and consider face-to-face sessions whenever possible. In-person training not only provides the training facilitator with the opportunity to evaluate true content comprehension and address questions in person, it also provides team members with the opportunity to share ideas and best practices.

Statistic #4: 47% of companies do no third party training.

Considerations: The use of third parties is continually increasing, and most of them want to do the right thing. To ensure that their activity is aligned with your code of conduct and to also address their training needs, more organizations are including their third parties in their curriculum mapping process. For example, Booz Allen Hamilton offers training to their smaller vendors and suppliers: their training adoption has gone through the ceiling. Consider repurposing some of the same material that you use for your employees for third parties. Short form training vignettes, newsletters and quarterly meetings are also ways to drive message stickiness and align your third parties with your compliance goals.

Ensuring that your organization’s training program stays at peak effectiveness requires ongoing vigilance and rigor—training the right audiences on the right topics at the right time. Doing so will pay off in spades—helping protect your people, your organization and your bottom line.

Chat with a solutions expert to learn how you can take your compliance program to the next level of maturity.

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