Rolling Out a Global Compliance Training Program

Organizations are exposed to greater compliance risks than ever as the pace of globalization quickens, the global regulatory environment grows more complex, and customers and shareholders become more demanding. So how does an organization ensure that the planning and implementation of global compliance training is robust enough to meet the needs of learners across a range of geographies, cultures, and languages while ensuring it meets its strategic objectives?

If an organization must think globally about its corporate compliance training and wants to evaluate the strength of its program, the first thing to consider is whether it is nurturing an “ecosystem” of compliance. A healthy “ecosystem” includes:

  • Advocacy and support from top management throughout the training and evaluation lifecycle.
  • A globally applicable set of ethical conduct standards and policies.
  • A means for anonymous reporting across all locations.
  • An intuitive incident management system.
  • A fit-to-purpose global learning and reinforcement strategy.

Of these, defining a set of globally applicable ethical conduct standards and policies will have the greatest immediate impact. It will enable the organization to communicate best practices and proper ethical behavior across dynamic environments and a diverse workforce. This compliance vision and set of values will cascade into specific guidelines and behaviors that employees must learn to embrace. These can then, in turn, be reinforced through leadership advocacy, learning and reinforcement campaigns, and reporting tools and processes.

Once those standards and policies are defined, the “ecosystem” can be driven through a learning and reinforcement strategy that appeals to the needs of a diverse workforce with differing risk areas and cultural considerations. Based on the employee profile of the organization, training or reinforcement efforts may incorporate:

  • A blended solution that gives employees both online and in-person learning experiences.
  • Interactive scenarios and videos to present unique risk situations for that audience or geography.
  • Interactive games, cartoons, and vignettes customized to local cultures that teach ethical principles and behavior.
  • Adaptive profiling so that specific content is shown based on the user’s location, role, or division.
  • Alternative methods of training, such as webinars and virtual instructor-led training to reach a smaller or more targeted audience.
  • Self-service activities such as using hotline/reporting tools or finding relevant compliance information on the intranet or in the company’s knowledge base.

A common misstep is covering compliance laws and regulations in-depth as a “download” of information for rote memorization; employees will simply not retain it. Alternatively, placing applicable laws and regulations into the context of the organization’s industry, the employee’s role or function, or geography in a scenario-driven way ensures the learner will recognize the relevance of the content and greatly increase the chance that they will apply it back on the job.

In short, offering employees the opportunity to practice the principles and behaviors emphasized in the eLearning or virtual instructor-led modules ensures employees will better understand the risks associated with a broad array of compliance issues and the role they play in mitigating them. They will learn how to address critical concerns and make sound decisions when confronted with potential or actual ethical and compliance violations.

When trying to reach a global audience, make sure not to underestimate the complexity and nuances of various languages and translation issues and deployment. Strategizing for content management and updates is critical with multiple languages and cultures. The many moving parts present challenges for content updates, and streamlining the process as best you can will pay dividends. For example, when developing an eLearning course, make sure that highly changeable content is presented outside the course itself via an Intranet site, companion downloadable document, or other format so that, as frequent changes occur, updates to the eLearning course are simple and don’t require re-translating and re-engineering the course for deployment.

In terms of reinforcing a program after it is put in place, appointing compliance champions or local advocates identified by leadership as people truly committed to compliance is highly effective. Compliance champions are not enforcers but point people for deployment and program advocacy and promotion. They target major areas of exposure, encourage employees to speak up when they encounter potential violations, and reinforce the ethical conduct standards. Best of all, they also understand the nuances of their geography, operations, and culture and can effectively operationalize the program’s core messages and purpose.

Another effective means of reinforcing the program within the “ecosystem” is to offer compliance refreshers as micro-lessons that give employees the opportunity to practice and retain information after the initial course is completed. These can take the form of short animations to be posted on a compliance Intranet site or sent via email, short quizzes for employees or departments to check their retention and compete, three- to five-minute refresher eLearnings, and branded communication email campaigns.

So, while rolling out a global compliance training program can seem daunting; if the initiative takes an “ecosystem” approach with senior management buy-in, globally applicable ethical conduct standards and policies and procedures, anonymous reporting opportunities, and an incident management system; it will have far-ranging impacts, despite its global reach. A comprehensive approach will enhance the organization’s culture, strengthen relationships with its customers, and safeguard its brand and reputation.