Compliance Training: Viral Lessons
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Learn Why Organizations Should Alter Their Approach To Compliance Training

If the need to wash hands, stay at home, and keep social distance was explained to us in a game that educates and also tests our understanding and preparedness in a fun way, would we beat the virus sooner? Or is it that we have full awareness of the "if-not" and a survival stake in what we must do and, therefore, we will comply, regardless of how palatable the training was? When all of us are trying to make sitting at home work, with a pandemic raging outside, I am thinking, yet again, of the need for better training in compliance. I believe it is no coincidence.

As all of us in the L&D domain know that most clients consider compliance training as ticking some boxes and getting it over with. The company doesn’t want to end up paying fines and the employee has been told, “You better.” So, it happens.

Compliance In Pandemic Times

The moot point is that the regulations we are supposed to learn to comply with are about saving lives, safeguarding health, protecting rights, and ensuring healthy co-existence. The problem is we don’t wake up to it unless something goes boom and headlines hit the social media fan—or a virus hits the world.

To put things in perspective, let us apply some well-known compliance statistics to the current situation. People find compliance training boring in 46% of organizations studied by Towards Maturity (Yawn, all that COVID-19 talk!). As much as 31% of learners don’t apply what they have learned (Wash your hands often? Who, me? Hah!). Most importantly, the cost of non-compliance can be as high as three times the cost of training people to comply (imagine how many millions could have been and still be saved if only...).

Not so long ago, during a discussion about compliance training on a social media platform, someone suggested: “I think it's about time to shake them up. Demonstrating the "cost" of non-compliance, and that is a huge 'potential risk,’ which L&D rarely understands and if they do, are not able to demonstrably convince the business leadership! The potential loss of reputation, life, shareholder value, IPR, cost of litigation, etc...” That sounds obvious and perhaps we need to spend more time educating all about the "or-else" scenario. Unless there is an invisible virus going around to open eyes.

The Towards Maturity study offered 3 solutions to the compliance training problem:

  1. Use data and insights
    Actually, there is too much corona data, which can do with filters to remove the fake and the panic-inducing.
  2. Adapt learning design
    Being done to a large extent—from celebrity videos on every screen to the local policeman addressing small gatherings at remote places.
  3. Involve managers and leaders
    While the Prime Minister has been on TV twice already, it doesn’t help to see leaders moving about closely surrounded by their retinue.

Pardon me if I am stretching the comparison a wee bit, but if this were a compliance training problem, is it succeeding because we have already ticked the right solution boxes? Or do we need to do more?

Mandatory, Because It Is About Life

During that social media discussion, someone else suggested: “We need to stop calling it Compliance Training. It’s Business Essentials or Business Fundamentals. Leaders need to send a message that it’s about how we run our business and, consequently, is essential or fundamental.”

Bingo! What the virus has forced on us are not some boxes to tick because we need to comply. We are learning about living life anew, about co-existence. There is no excuse that the design and quality of content does not inspire learners. No manager is shirking their responsibility to take part in the training and set an example.

As we stay at home and mull over the life that was and ponder over what life can be, we have begun to explore how we can use some of the solutions we have developed to help social development agencies working for better public health. Persistent issues like malnutrition, TB, and maternal health have been plaguing millions in India. Those were around long before the virus hijacked the headlines and still continue to claim more lives.

Let us look at the world as a large organization that employs all of us. There are a set of behaviors and regulations we all need to comply with for the sake of all. We need to train all on how to comply because, as of now, this is our only home, the only job we can ever have. In whatever shape the virus leaves the world, we need to make some corrections. We cannot afford to wait for the next rude wakeup call.

I am aware that after all this, we may still get back to the good old times. We will try our best to convince some customers why they need to approach compliance training differently. And we will wash our hands of many who will continue to point us to the boxes. We can always hope.

That reminds me, it's time for me to wash my hands. My daughter is waiting with the chessboard open. I can’t expect her to let me win every time. It is time I learned.

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