Timing is Everything: Planning Your Compliance Training Communication Strategy

So, you’ve built a transformational compliance training program. All that’s left to do is deliver it and your organization will be on the cutting edge of compliance – right? Not quite. There’s a huge piece of the puzzle that, if overlooked, will compromise your compliance initiative from the start. What could be that critical? Your communication strategy around the program is crucial in ensuring your initiative gets the support it deserves. Getting the message out to your employees before and after your training events will make your program stick and build a culture of compliance within your organization.

Imagine you are a compliance professional with a large accounting firm and you’re ready to launch your compliance training initiative. You’ve decided to roll it out in February – perfect timing – because employees have settled into work after the holidays and you’re starting the year by getting everyone on the same page with how to behave according to your organization’s policies and, more importantly, its principles.

There’s only one problem: you’ve scheduled it when tax season is ramping up. Your timing couldn’t be worse. Employees will be scrambling to help their clients meet their tax deadlines. Rather than implementing the initiative when everyone is extremely busy, consider planning the rollout for May, after tax season, when employees have had time to catch their breath.

Now that you’ve decided to launch in May, all that’s left to do is get the word out – right? Not so fast. You must first outline the goals of your communication strategy. And then schedule your campaign so it doesn’t conflict with other training initiatives. Perhaps the IT Department plans to roll out a data security controls training event in June and has its communication push scheduled for May – right during your planned compliance training window. Coordinate with IT and other business partners to ensure your message isn’t diluted, or worse, drowned out altogether. Liaise with your business partners to uncover what compliance, code of conduct, and other initiatives are calendared and leverage them to augment your compliance communication strategy.

After you have determined which business partners you’ll be coordinating with to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio, select channels and resources that make sense for your audience. If employees are bombarded from all sides with compliance newsflashes from various departments, your message is sure to get lost in the shuffle. Branding your program so compliance has a single voice and feel is a critical step in transmitting a cohesive and coordinated message across your organization.

Branding your compliance training and communications, and coordinating with business partners means compliance training is no longer a one-off event but rather a campaign that allows for message frequency and uses the best methods for reaching your intended audience. While email blasts and online banners on Intranet sites may work for some parts of the organization, team huddles may work best for others. Consider your organizational culture when choosing from options such as emails, posters, team meetings, podcasts, videos, the Intranet, the compliance portal, and marketing materials.

If you are launching a training session in May, plan a communication blitz the same month to feature the policy, summarize critical learning points, and highlight what employees need to know. Review your compliance topics and align them with the best time of year for maximum retention. For example, it doesn’t make sense to train employees in May about the company’s gifts and entertainment policy; they’re likely to forget what they learned by the time they are thinking about and applying the policy toward the year-end holidays.

So, you’ve got your communication strategy lined up and ready to go. You have top-flight compliance training ready to roll out. You’ve coordinated with your business partners and you’ve made sure compliance has a single voice in the organization. Your compliance training coupled with your communication strategy will almost guarantee a seamless rollout. Now all that’s left to do is to bask in the glow of the praise you’ll receive from every corner of the organization.

It’s true what they say: you’re a compliance training and communications guru.