Training & Education: How to Effectively Implement Compliance
by Francine Breckenridge, Chief Compliance Officer, U.S. Money Reserve
Once you’ve done the hard work of crafting a comprehensive compliance program, it’s time to put it into place. But what’s the best place to start?
Compliance is often seen by those who don’t understand it as a barrier to getting work done. Many perceive it as keeping the business from moving forward and innovating. In truth, however, when it is created in a way that works for the comprehensive growth of the entire company, compliance can be a real boon to the future security of a business. Compliance is a partner to everyone at the company and helps support safe and structured progress and growth to keep the company moving forward.
Once you have drafted your perfect compliance plan, it’s time to figure out how best to distribute it and get it into the hands of the employees who will be the frontline workers on the compliance battlefield. These employees will be the first line of defense against compliance issues. It is vital that they are comprehensively trained and educated so that they can make the right choices and raise the correct issues when and if the time is right. Below is a deeper dive on how to effectively implement training and education for your compliance program.
Customize Your Compliance Program for Your Specific Audiences
The first step in creating a successful training and education process for compliance is to regulate and customize your compliance program. I have written extensively about this topic on our blog, and you can read that post here.
Once the compliance program is in place, you need to customize your training and education program. That means you need to divide your workforce into relevant groups and trim down your comprehensive compliance plan into portions relevant to each group. For example, those who work on a factory floor don’t need to have the same type of training as those who work in a corner office. The same goes for those who manage versus those who do not have direct reports.
You need to customize and tailor your compliance program to meet each position in your company. That means you need to take into consideration employees’ education levels, their proficiency with business terms (i.e., there are specific terms that someone on the manufacturing floor might need to know compared to terms managers need to know), and their available time. You don’t want to unintentionally disrupt a vital portion of your business. Doing so would be utterly counterproductive to the health and longevity of the business itself. It’s best to consult with managers who know the workflow of their CC’s to determine the right time and cadence for your training program.
Determine the Right Time for Training
Once you’ve determined which audience is right for each specific piece of your compliance training, you must find the time in employees’ busy and often demanding schedules to allow everyone who needs training to attend. That may mean scheduling a series of times to teach the same content, both in real life and virtually. This ensures that everyone who must attend can.
If training is required, you’ll need to help managers arrange for time for their employees to get the compliance education. Never throw training at employees without first taking the pressure off their workloads. If you do, they’ll resent the training and be less likely to retain the information you need them to process in order to safely and compliantly do their jobs.
It’s also important to realize that training is not necessarily a one-and-done thing. In some cases, employees may need to be retrained or recertified annually or quarterly in order to ensure that the company remains compliant. In that case, it pays to consider the timing of your program and what you might roll out at each training session. Does one session build on the next? Do all employees need to attend all training sessions? How will you make these training sessions available to those who might work outside the physical offices? What about shift labor? All of these are important questions to consider when scheduling your training plan.
Offer Variety in Your Training Program
Humans don’t learn in just one way. Some people are visual learners, while others can read something once and take it in easily. Still others need to actually perform a task to learn. That means companies need to create training programs that communicate the same information in a variety of ways. The more variety, the more likely employees are to retain the information.
To add variety, consider incorporating different types of media into your compliance training strategy. Visuals such as images and infographics, audio elements, gamification and simulations, and informative videos can help mitigate monotony, add variety to the training, and address potential learning preferences and differences.
If needed, consider giving real-world demonstrations to engage employees in a way that will get them to participate — and offer facilitators the opportunity to gauge how well people are picking up the information being offered. This information from facilitators can help you move into the next stage of building your training and education program and improving it as you go.
Measure the Effectiveness of Training
You can’t create a training and education system without measuring its success. Measurement is a vital portion of the process. Yet measuring the effectiveness of training doesn’t necessarily mean giving timed tests or pop quizzes. In fact, it can be far more interactive. Consider offering group work to allow people to solve problems together, enabling facilitators to address any potential knowledge gaps that may come to the surface. You can also use online surveys and create questionnaires to understand just how much training employees have retained.
Once you measure the effectiveness of training and know how much understanding your employees have gained, you can move on to the next step.
Monitor and Audit
You may think that once training is over, your work is done, but that’s not an accurate perception. Education and training never stop, especially in the continually changing world of compliance. Rules and regulations can and do change regularly based on what’s going on in the economy and the world. That means you need to continually update your training programs to address those changes. It’s crucial to keep your employees up to speed on what they need to know and how to apply any new rules. Once employees have completed training, it’s essential to monitor and audit how well they handle issues that come up in the workplace. Are they applying the things they learned, or have the lessons fallen by the wayside? Once you know the answer to this important question, you can choose whether to reassess and retrain or continue to build on the knowledge your employees have already gained from your complicance education program.
Review Concerns and Questions
There is one final very important step to create a comprehensive training and education program for your compliance process. Companies must make sure there is an avenue for those who have gone through the training to ask questions and give feedback. Training doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and you must provide an outlet for those who have been trained to give continuous feedback and ask questions about issues that may arise daily. This will help ensure that your compliance program is being applied correctly by those who are on the frontlines of the effort, and it will allow you to tweak programs as needed. Feedback will also give you insight into whether the compliance program is working. That way, you can actively adjust what’s not working and solve any problems that might arise.
The goal is to make the compliance process a continuous feedback loop that helps support the entire company and all compliance efforts. Nothing exists in a vacuum, and without the support and work of employees, your compliance efforts are guaranteed to fail.
The Bottom Line
Compliance isn’t just about telling employees what they can’t or shouldn’t do. It’s about opening a constant line of communication that travels from the manufacturing floor to the c-suite and back so that the business can continue to thrive. An essential element is training and education that meets employees where and when they need it, offering the opportunity for feedback and communications with high-level managers. This kind of work helps a business become even more successful in the long run. Essentially, compliance is far more than just policies. Compliance means equipping your employees with the right skills and training to handle the complexities of laws and regulations — and do their jobs more safely and efficiently on a daily basis. Without a solid, comprehensive education and training program, your employees won’t know when they run awry of the rules. Implementing a well-thought-out compliance program and educating all employees is the best way to ensure the longevity of your company and secure future growth opportunities.