Over this series I have been visiting with Paul Johns, Chief Marketing Officer, and Rebecca Turco, Vice President of Learning, both at SAI Global, the sponsor of this podcast series. We are discussing the changes in ethics and compliance learning (E&C) and how a more technology-based learning solution can help move your company to a more effective and more operationalized best practices compliance program. In Part IV, I visit with Rebecca Turco on the current trends she is seeing in culture, ethics and compliance (E&C) and where it all may be headed.

We began the discussion with adaptive learning, which is more of a personalization way to learn. It is key for the compliance ethics discipline because adaptive learning “really looks at how do we differentiate the content for the learners? How do we start to serve up content that’s relevant based on role or region? How do we help learners?” Adaptive learning is designed to focus on “making sure the learners are getting the content and relevant information that they need within any piece of content. It begins with asking questions about where they work and whether they interact with government officials. From there, it moves to serve up content to the employee which is meaningful, that helps them start to see what risks are in their area. It also allows content designers to be able to give them a personalization to the training experience that is more meaningful than just kind of a one size fits all.”

Another key usefulness of this approach is that it does not reinvent training for employees who do not need it. This comes from “giving people credit for understanding risks, giving them the ability to kind of test out, by asking them a series of questions and if they know the answers, they may know what their risks are and they can move to a level at which they do not know the answers. You do not need to train employees in areas where they have demonstrated competency. This gives companies the opportunities to really think about their program and differentiate the ethics and compliance training of their compliance program.” Turco concluded, “in the world today, people are looking for compliance training that is as short and sweet as possible, getting to the relevant pieces of information.”

Another innovation in E&C learning has been around the concept of branching. Turco explained this is building out different scenarios. She provided an example of training about “a security breach. Things happen on a video and the learner is watching them unfold. By using adaptive technology you can require the learner to pick out the hotspot where they would see a risk or something being violated. From there the video would branch off into different scenarios based on what you decide because that’s real life. It is not the first decision that causes an ethical breach or a security breach. It’s for decisions down the road. That’s the hard part in training to get right because it is not always just as black and white as is the conflict of interest might lie.”

We next turned to the area of the effectiveness of compliance training, which, Turco said, “is the key story for compliance”. Interestingly, Turco said the first question asked is about the content of the training, not the data around this issue. She explained, “you can collect as much data as you want for any, any reason but if the content you are writing and designing for the training is not meaningful, then the data you’re getting isn’t meaningful.” (as fine a definition of GIGO as I have ever heard.) She said that a company must really think about data and how to use it to make your program smarter and to make you understand where the risks are in your organization.

Effectiveness then starts with building content with thought provoking questions in the presentation. This leads to scenarios which ask the learner, “what do you think?” From there you can begin collecting the data from their responses and start to analyze it on the back end. This can give you trends about whether there is a disconnect in your written Code of Conduct, policies and procedures and how business is operationalized in the field.  With this data, an organization can start to target campaigns to that team around that risk area identified. Turco pointed to one example where a company was able to demonstrate through this approach a training competency and effectiveness increase from 20% to 80% in one year.

Your goal should be that the needle is moving and your organization is providing employees the tools in order to make sure they have the knowledge and the competency to not only pass that assessment but also understand those risks in the business. This is far beyond the “check the box” method of training. With the speed of current day corporate decision making in the field and the pressure your sales teams are under to meet goals, timelines and deadlines; you need to provide training to meet these business realities. Once you understand that, then you can start to understand how to provide your employees effective training.

Turco concluded by noting that your training should aid in the decision-making process when the teams are under pressure; whether that be sales pressure, pressure due to a high-risk region or other. Turco said, “How do you make sure that when they’re under that pressure, they will know exactly what to do?” The data collected from the training process can help identify risks, provide the opportunity to help employees understand more and drive training or campaigning around risks.

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