One of the principal goals for each of our annual ethics and compliance benchmark reports is to identify trends that influence the maturity and efficacy of compliance programs globally. As we prepare to publish the 2018 Ethics & Compliance Training Benchmark Report, a number of interesting findings caught our attention.
One notable discovery is the growing effectiveness gap between programs at various stages of maturity. Identified in the report as Advanced, Maturing, Basic and Reactive, these groupings are based on predefined activities and approaches to training programs reported by respondents. It is not surprising that more mature programs are more effective. But somewhat less intuitive is the finding that more mature programs deliver a higher return on the effort and resources invested. Once implemented and repeated, a good training program becomes increasingly cost-effective as it matures.
Consider the data below. Seventy-eight percent of those with Advanced programs identify a culture of ethics and respect as their top program goal, with complying with laws and regulations a distant second. Reactive programs, too, identify culture as their primary goal, however with much less decisiveness. Compliance with laws and regulations is a close second for these programs, carrying almost as much weight as culture.
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The disparity in priorities is not because Advanced programs do not see the importance in those efforts, but more likely because they already have protocols in place that ensure basic things like complying with applicable laws. The idea that program maturity starts to pay for itself becomes more telling when we look at program outcomes.
Performance Correlates with Goals & Outcomes for Advanced Programs
Program goals are only part of the equation. Regulators and shareholders really care about program outcomes. The survey responses below indicate that Advanced programs deliver significantly better results on outcomes most meaningful to organizations. Largely defined in their program objectives, these are qualitative measures of a training program’s impact. The results leave little doubt about the effectiveness of a structured, strategic and well-run training program.
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When any element of a full ethics and compliance program operates at efficiency, it allows the organization greater flexibility in terms of resources and budget. For example, when an organization has a multiyear, multi-audience curriculum plan, budget that would have been spent reacting to cultural or legislative changes can go to other core areas of an ethics and compliance program.
When it comes to program effectiveness, we also see that rising tides lift all boats. Because mature ethics and compliance programs meet baseline objectives as a matter of course – and at lower marginal cost – budget and effort can be reallocated to higher-level needs. Some examples include more seat time for learners, and multiyear training plans that are proactive to ensure long-term goals instead of reactive to immediate business situations.
Get a deeper dive into the data in our upcoming webinar, “The State of Ethics and Compliance Training in 2018.”