Compliance in the workplace stretches beyond establishing a code of ethics. Compliance training was a key topic discussed earlier this week at the 2010 Global Ethics Summit. You cannot expect employees to learn how to comply with ethical standards by simply reading a handbook. The online agenda for this particular topic at the Summit states that “training is the vital step that brings ethical standards to life—effective training helps ensure that key tenets are retained and applied.” Once you have your workplace ethics and compliance policies established, you must prepare for training in order to enforce your compliance policies.
Training employees to follow compliance standards and codes of ethics is much easier said than done. Formal training must be supported by informal training and observation while on the job on a continuous basis. You also want to make compliance and ethics part of your corporate culture- if ethics and compliance are important to you and you demonstrate that message consistently to your workforce, your compliance program holds greater value. Here are some tips that will help you out during the training process:
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You want to take the time to plan out your training strategy- make annual plans, it will help you organize your training and avoid employee information overload. You need to determine who will conduct the training, the information to be discussed in each session, where and when it will take place and the frequency of training. Also, it’s important to consider the different groups of people you are training. Some staff will require different information to be communicated to them, depending on their role in the chain of compliance. Other food for thought is the ability to use different types of media to engage your employees and make training different each time. Determine a plan for using interactive media, face to face training, online tools and virtual training to mix things up a bit.
2. Prepare employees:
Doug Cornelius was blogging live from the 2010 Global Ethics Summit on Tuesday and he covered the issue of “Training a Diverse Workforce: Best Practices” on his blog, Compliance Building. In his notes that he posted from the event, he has nicely summed up the panel’s opinions on preparing employees for training:
“Send out messages about the importance of training before the training session. If you are in the financial sector and your training is on anti-money laundering, send out messages about recent failures of anti-money laundering in the news to people before they attend their anti-mComplianceoney laundering training. Training is expensive so you need to maximize the value to the company and the participants. Let them know the importance. Give them tools to help them better understand the issues in the context of your business.”
3. Accessibility of information:
Employees will be able to retain a lot of information they learn during a training session, however, we are all human and sometimes forget things. You will want to keep all training material together in a single location(or copies of the material in multiple locations, depending on your workplace), accessible to all employees so that they can go back to the materials as a point of reference. Making the information available to employees after training is done makes it easier for employees to review certain areas for further clarification, ask questions and stay up to date on any changes to policies.
4. Track and document training:
Use a log to record all training sessions- who conducted them, who was in attendance, where it was held, duration of the session, topics discussed and attach any materials used/distributed during the session to the log. Keeping track of these important pieces of information allows you to provide evidence, supporting the enforcement of your compliance policy within the workplace.
Make training a priority. When amendments are made to policies, inform your employees and make sure they have the training and tools required to make the appropriate adjustments. Consistency also applies to the way incidents are handled. Employees learn from the tone at the top, therefore, if an incident that violates the compliance policy is not dealt with and given consequences, all of the training you provided to your employees is now invalid. When employees see consequences being enforced upon those who violate company compliance/ethics policies, they learn to abide by the rules very fast because they now know that you are serious about your commitment to compliance. Demonstrating your commitment to workplace compliance is one of the most powerful tools you can use to gain a loyal following on your path to compliance in the workplace- pay attention to the messages that your actions send to your employees.