7 Ways to Improve Your Compliance Culture without Breaking the Bank

Summary: Millions of dollars are spent on compliance training every year. Though necessary and crucial to organizational success, many organizations are struggling to keep up with new trends due to budget constraints. Here are some great tips for improving your compliance training programs without breaking the bank.

Companies spend more than $500 billion dollars a year on advertising and it’s probably not for the reason you think. The common belief is that the goal of advertising is to cause an immediate action– see an ad for pizza – go buy a pizza. But in fact, what advertisers know is that it takes repeated exposure to a message for it to have an impact. Way back in 1885, Thomas Smith wrote the still referenced 20-step plan for getting people’s attention:

“The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.

The second time, they don’t notice it.

The third time, they are aware that it is there.

The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.

The fifth time, they actually read the ad.

The sixth time, they thumb their nose at it.

The seventh time, they start to get a little irritated with it.

The eighth time, they start to think, "Here’s that confounded ad again."

The ninth time, they start to wonder if they’re missing out on something.

The tenth time, they ask their friends and neighbors if they’ve tried it.

The eleventh time, they wonder how the company is paying for all these ads.

The twelfth time, they start to think that it must be a good product.

The thirteenth time, they start to feel the product has value.

The fourteenth time, they start to remember wanting a product exactly like this for a long time.

The fifteenth time, they start to yearn for it because they can’t afford to buy it.

The sixteenth time, they accept the fact that they will buy it sometime in the future.

The seventeenth time, they make a note to buy the product.

The eighteenth time, they curse their poverty for not allowing them to buy this terrific product.

The nineteenth time, they count their money very carefully.

The twentieth time prospects see the ad; they buy what it is offering.”While repeating your compliance message 20 times may not be realistic or necessary, a consistent compliance campaign is a must to get your employees’ attention. It also helps establish a key building block in an effective compliance program—and, more importantly, drives the kind of behavioral and cultural change that you’re after. Remember, the most effective compliance programs don’t just aim to tick off a box to prove to regulators and the legal department that people read the policy or could answer twenty multiple choice questions. The best compliance programs look to change culture and know that changing behavior takes time, buy-in, and sustained messaging.

The good news is that while repetition is important, the individual communication event doesn’t have to be over the top… or expensive.

7 Ways to Improve Your Compliance Culture with Little or No Investment

  1. Tell Stories
    Action, suspense, love, intrigue…we all love a good story. It’s part of being human and how we relate to one another, and ultimately shapes who we are. Make stories a part of your company culture. Become a story curator, ask employees to share their day to day stories through a social media community or send out a monthly e-newsletter that highlights acts and deeds that embody your company’s ethical and compliance standards. These stories can serve as a consistent reminder of why employees serve the company they do. Take it a step further by encouraging your employees to email the compliance department their own real-life tales of compliance and intrigue with the promise of a small prize like a gift card to the local coffee shop. You can also link to short video vignettes or presentations that share stories showing the consequences of non-compliance.
  2. Build a Visual Campaign
    Visual messages are everywhere and are often more powerful than words. Most organizations have made a significant investment in publishing a Code of Conduct or list of company values. Why not take some of the key messages in your compliance programs and create a compelling set of posters Place them in central gathering areas, such as lunch rooms and meeting rooms. Employees will begin to recognize the images and the messages will sink in and stick with repeated exposure. You could also make smaller versions for employees to place in their desk areas. There are literally hundreds of sites that will print and frame posters or as low as $20 each.
  3. Create a Memorable Tagline
    The best ads have memorable taglines and snappy jingles. We remember them, we share them, and they take on their own cultural meanings. Nike’s “Just Do It”, McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ It” and Allstate’s “You’re in good hands with Allstate.” Work with your marketing team if you need to in order to craft your own message that you can build into a variety of communication and training formats—think ad campaign that crosses media types.  Some good examples are: “One Copy, One Place” to encourage reduction in digital clutter; “Think Before You Click” to remind people not to click on unknown links. Take it a step further and incorporate a call to action into all of your messages. Then measure the response rate. Thread your tagline through all of your campaign assets: posters, eLearning, classroom sessions, and webinars. Repetition will reinforce that tagline, get it stuck in people’s heads, and encourage that desired behavior change.
  4. Tell It with Numbers
    In the information-saturated world we live in, it’s hard to get people’s attention. And on compliance topics, it’s even harder. Use visual and eye-catching infographics to share your numbers and build the case for behavior change. Infographics counter information overload because they are more engaging and can be processed by our brain exceptionally fast.  John Medina reminds us in Brain Rules that “vision trumps all other senses.” Why? Because we process a visual scene in less than 1/10th of a second.  Next time you want to get out a message, consider using an infographic to share your data in pictures instead of text. Don’t have an internal graphics team?  No problem. There are a lot of free templates and inexpensive services you can use like piktochart.com and infogr.am
  5. Games & Badges
    The impact of competition never fails to amaze me. One day my kids buzzed into the house crowing about the score their friend Owen got on Quizlet.  I’ve never heard them so excited about school.  With a little investigation, I learned that Quizlet is a simple online tool with some Gamification techniques that result in a score for each user based on correct responses, time spent, etc. Why not do the same with your compliance message?  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the buzz it creates. Open source tools like Joomla and Drupal have tools that can be used to create quizzes and leaderboards.  You may want to consider adding a badge system to your LMS that will track and reward your employees’ contributions. Similar to other social communities, “top contributors” will be highlighted. Badges are often a very simple low cost add-on.To learn more about Mozilla badges, visit: http://openbadges.org/issue/
  6. ‘Informalize’ it
    One of the reasons employees don’t enjoy compliance programs is their rigid structure. Though, compliance programs can’t be completely informal, you can develop casual programs, like “lunch n’ learns,” where stakeholders can discuss common challenges and solutions. This can be a casual monthly gathering that encourages stakeholders to network and share. Each gathering can focus on a new theme or topic of interest. Not only that, but you can also incorporate many of the other suggestions above in these gatherings --- stories, games, visuals and badges. Mix it up and always have FOOD!
  7. Ask, Receive & Reward
    Values and ethics have no meaning if they aren’t lived out every day. When your employees take the time and effort to uphold company values, even go above and beyond, you should take note and recognize their behavior. It can be as simple as recognizing them in front of their team, showcasing them in the company newsletter, hosting department celebrations, or doing small giveaways. When employees feel valued and recognized for good behavior, the positive effects can be quite remarkable. It can transform a company’s culture.  And most importantly, always ask for feedback. Make sure your programs are engaging. Don’t just assume that people are enjoying it –ASK. This is a great way to measure outcomes and make improvements along the way. Also, if you ask your employees what they think, it shows you respect their opinion and they’ll be more inclined to share and participate in your future programs.

Kineo loves to learn too
Help us with our research. Please take a moment and take our 2014 Compliance Training & Communication Survey.We’re noticing some interesting trends so far.

  • There is an increased organizational focus on compliance.
  • Half of organizations do not complement their compliance training with communication campaigns. 
  • Most believe their compliance training “meets standards” or is “ok, but needs improvement.”
  • Many respondents indicated that they would like to improve their design & content and adapt to new technology sooner.

What do you think? How does your compliance training measure up? Take the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/kineocomplianceWant to see some of our case studies? Visit: Check out some of Kineo’s case studies: http://www.kineo.com/us/case-studies/compliance/