By True Office Learning
In a world of tremendous political turmoil and rapidly evolving economic trends, corporations are increasingly being held responsible for providing a beacon of light amidst all the noise and publicly owning their values. Rising consumer activism and research results indicate that consumers prefer buying from and working for companies they can trust and that have been publicly recognized for ethics. This shift in consumer and worker sentiment makes compliance, a function that usually elicits a collective yawn within organizations, an untapped competitive advantage.
In his books, The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust, renowned business consultant Stephen M.R. Covey argues that “trust is not a soft, social virtue; it’s a hard economic driver for every organization.” There is ample evidence to support this assertion:
Every year, the Great Place to Work Institute partners with Fortune to compile the list of “100 Best Companies to Work For,” where trust makes up two-thirds of the criteria. An analysis of these companies performed by global index provider FTSE Russell found that “an equally-weighted index of the publicly-traded companies among the 100 best returned 11.66% annually from 1998 through the end of 2016, nearly 5% more than the equivalent returns for the benchmark US all-cap Russell 3000 Index (6.72%) and US large cap Russell 1000 Index (6.68%).”
A study by AFLAC about corporate social responsibility shows that about 80 percent of consumers believe companies that stick to their ethical values outperform companies that don’t and 70 percent say they are likely to buy stock in a company that’s well known for ethical standards. The value of ethics soars among young people, where 92 percent of Millennials indicate they are more likely to purchase goods and services from ethical companies; and 82 percent say they are likely to seek jobs from companies that have been publicly recognized for ethics.
Trust Across America, an independent advocacy group, selects and publicly publishes an annual list of the top ten Most Trustworthy Public Companies. This list has outperformed the S&P 500 every year since 2012 when the organization first began tracking the relationship between trust and economic performance.
Companies are not oblivious to this rising power source for attracting the best talent and driving outsized sustainable performance. The rise of interactive code of conduct and policy portals, multi-modal hotlines for misconduct reporting and GRC platforms are all examples of companies trying to go beyond the regulatory checklist and foster a culture of compliance.. However, in all the digitization, one area has remained relatively unchanged since the 1990s: compliance training.
As the most internally visible face of the organization’s values, compliance training is essential to building trust. It is one of the few values-driven experiences that touches everybody in the organization, from the CEO to the temp worker in the mailroom and even the board. Its significance is further multiplied because the topics covered, such as code of conduct, fraud and harassment, are foundational to building a true north that shapes the company’s culture on how employees behave with each other and make good decisions.
Despite the criticality, most organizations make employees spend thousands of hours in PowerPoint or videos focused on presenting legal information rather than helping employees build invaluable decision-making skills. Bogged down by limited learning management systems’ (LMS) capabilities and a provider community stuck in time, most compliance training courses still reinforce a “check the box” perception and forgo the opportunity to build strategic business value.
Imagine asking pilots, surgeons or performers to learn by listening to information or watching passively, rather than applying it. Here’s how to assess if you are doing the same to your employees when it comes to living organizational values:
Are you putting employees in lecture-style or video-based training that presents one-size-fits-all information irrespective of the learner’s experience, role or ability to apply the material?
Are you only measuring completion and usage, rather than obtaining intelligence on the organization’s decision-making capabilities to better manage your business and enhance your commitment to values, diversity, innovation and driving sustainable results?
If you said yes to either of these questions, you are diluting all efforts to build a consistent culture of performance and are wasting millions of dollars each year.
Recently, several high-profile incidents have illustrated what can happen when an organization does not act in accordance with its values. Swift reputational damage ensues resulting in expensive remediation measures, despite which lingering questions remain about the company’s brand. Can this company be trusted to protect and serve its customers? Is this a place that a person of integrity and capability would like to work? Amid a 24/7 news cycle and rising stakeholder expectations, organizations more than ever need to align their approach to training with their core principles and take pride in their efforts to create a values-based culture for each individual. From customers to top talent, the reward of owning your values is tremendous.
The answer, like most facets of business today, lies in leveraging technology to empower your employees to drive a culture of compliance from the ground up. As an example, Scholar for Compliance, a standalone AI driven learning and analytics course technology, increases the efficiency and effectiveness of every compliance course delivered by 30-50 percent without having to overhaul existing learning environment or undertake technology development.
Designed to be agile cloud-based solutions that work out of the box, this new breed of courses empowers you to own your values by:
Giving learners agency and a palpable sense of trust and ownership by adjusting based on user performance, role and decisions at each interaction, so the learner drives the pace, scope and content of the course.
Focusing on “learn by doing” and triggering the perception action cycle to build and reinforce neural pathways. This way making good decisions becomes a reflexive habit.
Giving employees practice and personalized coaching through new contextual stories and role-play activities every time until they attain mastery on all topics.
Providing intelligence independent of the LMS on how learners handle situations involving ethical decisions and what misconceptions drive choices counter to the company’s values.
Benchmarking your organization’s conduct risk performance internally and externally.
Providing portable performance analytics that can be integrated with risk assessment, hotline and other internal controls data so you can proactively identify and resolve business risk blind spots.
Yielding actionable insight for each business unit that integrates compliance as a value-add partner rather than a policing organization.
Sound too good to be true? Don’t settle for any less. Hundreds of leading organizations are already using this type of technology to build a competitive advantage and the impact is profound. While the benefit of giving thousands (even hundreds of thousands) of productive revenue-generating hours back to employees as reward for performing in a values-driven manner is enough in itself, the peace of mind for your customers and prospective employees that they are working with or for an organization that is committed to always doing the right thing is priceless.
 “Consumers prefer ethical companies survey shows,” ECI Connector, Ethics and Compliance Initiative, January 7, 2016, https://www.ethics.org/blogs/eci-connector/2016/01/07/consumers-prefer-ethical-companies-survey-shows, accessed August 2, 2018.
 Stephen M.R. Covey and Douglas R. Conant, “The connection between employee trust and financial performance,” Harvard Business Review, July 18, 2016, https://hbr.org/2016/07/the-connection-between-employee-trust-and-financial-performance, accessed August 2, 2018.
 Catherine Yoshimoto and Ed Frauenheim, “The best companies to work for are beating the market,” Fortune, February 27, 2018, https://fortune.com/2018/02/27/the-best-companies-to-work-for-are-beating-the-market, accessed August 2, 2018.
 “Consumers prefer ethical companies survey shows,” ECI Connector.
 Barbara Kimmel, “Return on Trust: The ‘State of Trust’ 2018,” Trust Across America, July 23, 2018, https://www.trustacrossamerica.com/blog/?p=3996 accessed August 2, 2018.