The Case for Quality in Ethics and Compliance Training

Why Quantity is not an Adequate Substitute

If your inbox looks anything like mine, it’s likely bombarded with daily messages about what is “most important” or “critical” for your compliance training program. You’ve probably been pitched or sold large libraries of outdated, boring and potentially legally inaccurate training. These convincing messages often paint dark shades of grey on the truth about what really should matter most for your organization.

As a lawyer and NAVEX Global’s lead eLearning product developer, I have formed strong opinions about the right approach—everything from how to engage learners, to what content should be shared with learners, what topics to deploy and to the power of focus and quality.

In 2013, NAVEX Global commissioned an independent market study of senior level ethics and compliance decision makers—we wanted to know their opinion about what is most important when it comes to training. Is it quality or quantity? More than 300 responses came in from senior leaders in key ethics, compliance, legal, human resources and risk-related roles at organizations of all sizes and industries.

The Survey Says: Quality Matters Most

I’ll set the stage by noting the study revealed that ethics and compliance professionals consider online training to be the most important component in their ethics and compliance program. (They could select more than one option.)

And training is also the most significant budget spend for the ethics and compliance function—by a significant margin.

Building an effective and efficient training program is about taking care to select what matters most to your organization. And most organizations (excluding those in highly regulated industries) have about 3-6 hours of seat time a year for compliance training, making it impossible to consume large volumes of content. As for the number of courses, most need only 5 courses per year and only ten over the course of a multi-year training cycle.

As the industry has matured, compliance professionals have grown more sophisticated about their training programs and have a much better sense of their real training needs. More and more, I hear new clients tell me that they were sold large libraries of content, and the content is not good enough, challenging enough or refreshed often enough. The content is stale and directly tied to learner fatigue. They want something different.

The focus now is on quality – not quantity. In fact, it’s the number one criterion for selecting an online training provider. In fact, breadth of product offering took seventh place on the list.

NAVEX Global’s Focus Is Quality

The importance placed on online training solutions is not surprising considering the legal and regulatory mandates to train, and the complexity and cost of building and maintaining quality training content.

Quality is directly tied to training effectiveness. Poor-quality training is viewed by prosecutors as a “check-the-box” approach, which makes it more difficult to establish good faith and that your program is truly effective. And poor quality training is reflection of your own department or function, which is often viewed negatively by learners. Low production values or factory-style production erodes credibility with learners, litigators, prosecutors and regulators alike.

At NAVEX Global, quality has always driven what we do. Our drive to offer the best ethics and compliance courses is informed by client data, impacted by a desire to provide engaging and effective solutions and informed by understanding client needs – as well as the courses that actually help mitigate risk and establish critical legal defenses.

Although, the “big training library play” sounds alluring, it is really a detractor from a focus on the quality and effectiveness of the few courses you need. Maintaining high-quality training course content requires significant investment and resources.

So next time you are thinking about how to spend precious compliance training dollars, ask yourself these questions:

  • How much training can my organization really consume in a year?
  • How many courses do I need over the course of a training cycle to have an effective program?
  • Am I funding the development and maintenance of courses that I will never use?
  • How frequently are courses updated or new titles really added?
  • How will my employees react to and receive the training?
  • What product advancements or innovations have been applied to the training library?
  • Is training truly mobile capable?
  • Can content be delivered in shorter formats to reinforce the message?
  • Is there content available specifically for senior leaders and members of the board?
  • How can a company keep such a huge library up to date in both content and production value?

Before making a decision about training, consider how online training quality and style affect employees and others who would scrutinize your efforts. Don’t wait until you are in the courtroom to justify your online training decisions.

Be critical when making your purchasing decision. Ask questions about the legal defensibility, freshness, effectiveness and features such as Burst, mobile, modularization and customization. Buy training you need and not what a vendor tells you that you need. Look at the quality of the library and whether it serves your needs over a 2-3 year period – it matters a lot more than the size of the library.

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

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