Episode 8: Communication, Training and Consulting
Compliance officers generally see informing employees about relevant compliance topics and providing training appropriate to the risks involved as an important and urgent task. And they’re right. The Compliance Officer is always well-advised to communicate and explain important matters, keeping compliance front and center among employees.
“Compulsory” and “Freestyle”
There is no question of the need for a standard corporate training program. Key to the training are the “Compliance Basics” (code of conduct) and other risk-related content (anti-corruption, antitrust law, etc.). In larger companies, these are often e-learning courses which must be completed by new employees and then regularly supplemented as refreshers. Classroom training should also be offered. The two variants are to be understood as “both and”, not as “either or”.
There are several advantages and disadvantages to be considered:
- Easier to organize and more time saving for many employees
- Participation easy to document
- No individual questions and per-sonal interaction
- Often only the “standard top-ics”
Questions can be submitted and the speaker can answer ques-tions
- More complex and time-consuming
- Complicated tracking (participant lists, sick leave, etc.)
However, few compliance officers realize all the possibilities of communication and training. So what could a “freestyle” option look like?
Option 1: Let’s start “at the top” – with management training. Here, an important topic is “Compliance as a Management Task”. While e-learning is useful to provide the entire workforce with a basic introduction, face-to-face training is recommended for management, for example in a half-day workshop. There, discussion can address topics such as potentially conflicting goals, implementation of compliance in business operations, dealing with compliance concerns, and much more.
Option 2: Target-group trainings (e.g. for employees in sales) are also essential. Here the (internal or external) trainer can answer legal questions, interactively analyze case studies, and respond to the exact needs of the target group. None of this would be feasible in a standardized e-learning system.
Option 3: Compliance training may often be difficult to reconcile with the high workload of many employees. One response to this can be “Nano-Learnings“: These are small “morsels” that employees can look at from time to time or access on the intranet in case of any lack of clarity.
Option 4: Does your company have a staff newsletter? Publish reports on training and other compliance activities to keep your issues in focus for the workforce.
Option 5: Training should not be limited to instructions or recommendations. Have you identified risks which can arise when employees communicate with external partners? Then design communication trainings for your employees. As an example, the sales department of a pharmaceutical company could be instructed in compliant communication with doctors: How can compliance be framed positively or even become a competitive advantage? (“If you work with us, you can be sure that everything is on the level.”)
Option 6: A Q&A session with employees (e.g. on the importance and scope of compliance, giving and receiving gifts, reporting of compliance concerns, contact persons) can address frequently requested topics, standardize answers, and save much (repetitive) consulting work. It can turn compliance from a headache to an accessible source of good advice.
Option 7: You can also conduct employee surveys on compliance. What do employees think about compliance? Do you think the issue is being taken seriously? Do you know your compliance officer? These and other questions give you a quick overview of what employees think and how you can improve their efforts in the future.
Option 8: Even the compliance department, has to be able to sell itself. “Compliance Branding” can be a step toward achieving this: Use marketing know-how to publicize compliance issues and your core messages within the company. The visual design is also important here. Always coordinate with the communications department. Uniform design of documents and consistency with other company publications will make it clear that compliance is part of the company.
Option 9: Develop new formats yourself: These can be compliance workshops or “consulting hours” (individual or group events). A “low-threshold approach” make it easier for employees to get involved in compliance issues and to contact the compliance officer in any case.
Compliance training and communication can be done in many ways. Choose something unusual to convince the employees of the importance of the topic (and of your work). Be creative and use different forms of communication and learning. Nowadays, employees are visually “spoiled”. You won’t get far with e-mails – instead, visual or interactive prompts are increasingly required to arouse and maintain interest in the topics.
The next episode continues with the topic “Reporting systems, investigations, enforcement, incentives and sanctions”.
If you are unsure how to set up and run your compliance project successfully, please feel free to contact me.