‘Being compliant’ by combining training and policies

August 19, 2019 in Compliance Training



‘Being compliant’ by combining training and policies

What does ‘being compliant’ mean for an organisation? Does it mean merely having a ‘compliance policy’? Perhaps we need to rephrase the question, to determine a better answer.

Why does an organisation worry about ‘being compliant’? Let’s consider the variety of reasons we undertake compliance projects, which include:

  • Ensuring employees understand their workplace obligations
  • Helping employees (and thereby the organisation) avoid violations
  • Providing standards for employees to follow
  • Creating workplace behaviours which align with the organisation’s values
  • Meeting specific compliance requirements for an industry or project

These are the outcomes – the tangible benefits – which come from compliance activities. So let’s revisit our earlier solution. Does having a ‘compliance policy’ achieve these outcomes? Probably not.

An organisation may not be able to solely rely on a ‘compliance policy’, such as a Code of Conduct, Acceptable Internet Usage or Privacy Policy, as the only means of defence when a compliance issue arises. It is very likely that organisations will need to demonstrate a higher duty of care around compliance issues than merely providing a policy. In fact, in some regulatory areas, there are specific requirements which extend far beyond policy provision.

Compliance training builds engagement

A simple first step to dramatically improve both compliance outcomes and raise the duty of care by an organisation is to provide employees with compliance training.

It is not reasonable to provide employees with a link to a policy document and expect employees to know how to deal with specific issues in a real-life context. Many areas of regulation or legislation are, despite their best efforts, complex.

Compliance issues relating to employee behaviours, including anti-bullying, whistleblowing or managing underperforming staff, often involve a degree of interpretation. What is subjective to one person may be objective under the law (and vice-versa). Some compliance concepts can even conflict with each other, requiring some analysis to determine how to respond or proceed.

Compliance training, therefore, serves a slightly different purpose than a compliance policy. Compliance training should:

  • Provide context. It should explain the background to the issue, why it is important, its prevalence, and the risks and benefits to stakeholders.
  • Outline legislation. It should explain the legislation or regulations related to this area, including defining and explaining key terms or requirements.
  • Give examples. It should provide learners with instances of both compliance and non-compliance, in a variety of ways, to allow learners to calibrate their understanding.
  • Review scenarios. It should allow learners to test their thinking against common scenarios, to ensure their understanding in real-life situations is clear.
  • Assess understanding. Finally, it should have some degree of assessment, to allow learners to demonstrate understand (and confirm they have, indeed, captured the key points).

As you can see, providing an employee with your policy, asking them to read it and then asking them to confirm they agree, does not qualify as training. Training is about helping employees understand compliance. It should dispel myths, demonstrate the benefits of being compliant and reduce barriers to following compliant behaviours. It builds engagement with the content. It makes employees more willing and likely to be compliant, with or without a policy.

That’s not to say you can’t have a policy and only rely on training either! Compliance policies are important too but need to be presented correctly to be effective.

Compliance policies need correct presentation

When presenting a compliance policy to an employee, there are also some steps an organisation can take to improve the acceptance of that policy.

At Tribal Habits, organisations can use a four-step template to quickly and effectively present compliance policies to employees via a short training module. The template consists of four easy to complete sections, which can be utilised for any compliance policy.

  1. Provide your policy. You can either provide your policy as a PDF document or put the policy into the training module itself (so the module is both the policy content and acceptance process). With Tribal Habits’ built-in version control and the ability to create PDF versions of your modules for offline use, it can make sense to combine everything into a single-source-of-truth.
  2. Highlight the key parts. Using Tribal Habits templated building-block editor, you can then highlight the 3-7 most important parts of the policy. This is typically done via the Insights element, which creates pre-formatted ‘soundbites’ of key knowledge.
  3. Ask for acceptance. Next, you can use Tribal Habits’ Poll element to ask the employee to confirm their acceptance of the policy. This information is captured against their user profile with date/time/version information.
  4. Allow for questions. You then use the Q&A element to allow the employee to ask any questions they have about the topic. This is an important piece. It gives the employee a chance to clarify anything, check a scenario or otherwise indicate they need help. By giving employees this opportunity, you set a higher standard of acceptance for both the employee and the organisation. A better duty of care.
  5. Confirm understanding. You can then use Quiz or Match elements to create a short online assessment about specific aspects of your compliance policy. Typically 5-7 questions are enough, but you can easily add more. Tribal Habits then automatically builds and manages the online assessment process, including pass marks and retakes.

It typically takes less than 30 minutes to use this template to prepare a completely interactive online presentation of your policy, with multiple enrolment options, due dates, reminder emails, manager notifications, completion certificates and full data capture all built-in.

This module can then be included in induction processes or rolled-out to existing employees. Employees now have a far more engaging process in reviewing your policy and your organisation has met a far higher duty of care in presenting this template.

Best of both worlds: Training + Policy

So let’s put everything together.

An important milestone for most organisations is the combination of compliance training and compliance policy. This can be very easily achieved – with the right platform.

Let’s consider a scenario regarding a Code of Conduct policy. Here’s how an organisation can dramatically improve the duty of care around this policy in just 30 minutes (when using Tribal Habits).

  1. Import three training modules from our Compliance library. Each of these modules is already written for Australian legislation, reviewed by Australian lawyers and contains built-in examples, scenarios and assessments. These topics appear in your organisation’s branding too – it looks like you create them. It will take less than 30 seconds to import these modules.
    1. Anti-bullying and anti-harassment for employees
    2. Sexual harassment awareness discrimination
    3. Alcohol and drugs in the workplace
  2. Access the Compliance Policy template and create a new module called ‘[YourOrganisation’s] Code of Conduct’. Fill in the blanks in that module to add your Code of Conduct and then create 5-7 quiz questions on key issues. It will take less than 25 minutes to create this module.
  3. Create a new Pathway called ‘Code of Conduct’. Add the three compliance training modules and your Code of Conduct module to the Pathway and select ‘Complete modules in order’. Set an appropriate due date to complete the Pathway – say 30 days from enrolment. Then enable the enrolment notification and some appropriate reminder and overdue notifications. Select ‘Add manager’ to the final overdue notification and the completion notification. This set-up takes less than three minutes.

That’s it. You are now ready to go. You could email out enrolment links, upload employees for enrolment, set-up self-enrollment by job title or team or add to induction processes. In 30 minutes you have a complete compliance training and policy presentation process, with automated management and data recording.

30 minutes to dramatically improve your organisation’s duty of care with a key compliance issue. Let’s say we add in similar Pathways for say, IT security, Work Health and Safety and then a Managers Pathways with specific modules from our compliance library for managers. In just a few hours, you have an entire suite of compliance training and policies ready to go.

Now that’s what ‘being compliant’ looks like.