Ethics and compliance training is taking many positive strides, with companies focused on building ethical cultures and preventing crises before they happen. But there’s still a distance to go, as well, amid persistent budget constraints and other challenges.
Those are the key findings in our third annual Ethics & Compliance Training Benchmark Report for 2016, produced with data collected from over 644 respondents across 20 industries and organizations all over the globe.
On a recent webinar, I talked in depth about the findings and offered guidance to companies regarding industry best practices that could help improve and mature their ethics and compliance programs.
Here are three key takeaways from the webinar. Access the webinar on-demand here.
1.There is an undeniable link between program maturity and results.
In our survey, we asked respondents to rate their ethics and compliance programs along a four-tiered maturity index: reactive, basic, maturing or advanced. We found that 50% of respondents would classify their ethics and compliance programs as maturing, and 12% would classify them as advanced.
There is absolutely no doubt that mature and advanced ethics and compliance programs are more effective. There is a direct correlation between program elements and program effectiveness. Mature and advanced programs consistently see far better results in employee morale, positive behavior change, trust in leadership and speak-up cultures. In the future, companies should focus on maturing their ethics and compliance training programs, as the benefits from a more robust program more than outweigh the costs.
2.Board members are chronically undertrained on ethics and compliance risks.
This year, we found that board members and top executives across all organizations and industries continue to be chronically undertrained in ethics and compliance procedures. This creates significant risks for those companies. If boards don’t understand the risks their organizations are facing—or how to handle those risks—they won’t be able to ensure their companies are protected.
The evidence is particularly troubling in cyber security—only 13% of organizations train their boards on this issue. This is worrisome due to the sensitive data board members themselves have access to.
3.Curriculum planning can help prevent learner fatigue and combat flat budgets.
Many companies face multiple obstacles to creating and implementing effective ethics and compliance training programs. The best way to combat many of these challenges is to devote significant energy to planning ahead. Creating a multi-year online training and communiactions plan helps produce ethics and compliance training programs that are more engaging, avoiding learner fatigue—as well as helping stretch small budgets.
Incorporating different media and formats into training programs has been shown to better engage employees, as well as decrease learner fatigue. We encourage companies to consider offering training programs with interesting story lines, animation and/or video content.
Additionally, many companies have begun to assign courses based on the learner’s role or risk exposure within the organization. This can help cut back on the amount of training that individual employees must go through, and help cut costs by avoiding training employees in areas that are not relevant to their jobs.
It’s good to see organizations of all sizes realize that training is critical in building a strong ethics and compliance program. But many organizations need to take the next step: making sure effective training is provided to everyone—including the most senior executives and directors.
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