Adapting Your Code of Conduct into Effective Training (Code of Conduct Series Part 2 of 3)
So you’ve created and updated your code of conduct — now what?
If you haven’t already, consider operationalizing your written code of conduct by incorporating it into your employee compliance training. Until people know how to act in accordance with your code, it’s just concepts on a page. A training and communication program ensures that workers have the proper knowledge and skills to ethically carry out the company’s mission and goals. In fact, an effective ethics program helps decrease the risk for misconduct and its potential financial, legal, and reputational consequences. Additionally, it will help your company meet the U.S. DOJ’s expectations of compliance programs and keep pace with your peers. As the foundation for all other compliance training, engaging and effective code of conduct training is essential.
If you need a quick recap on creating a code of conduct for your company, check out Part One of our three-part Code of Conduct Series. Otherwise, continue on to discover the benefits of code of conduct training and helpful tips for developing your training program.
Why Adapt Your Code of Conduct into a Training Program?
While ethics training is proven to reduce risk, some companies may wonder if it’s worth taking the gamble and going without it. However, mitigating risk is just one of many benefits of an ethics training program. In actuality, training programs carry huge value for both your employees and your company as a whole.
Training Increases Learner Engagement
Chances are, very few employees will actually read your code of conduct document cover to cover, let alone comprehend it. Creating a training program helps learners interact with the material in a more digestible format. Additionally, training often incorporates audio and visual components, providing extra stimulus for your code of conduct’s written material. All of these factors drive learner engagement and productivity far better than just skimming through a PDF.
Training Applies Guidelines to Real-Life Situations
The measure of your code of conduct’s success is how well employees are able to carry out its guidelines. With well-designed code of conduct training, employees will be able to work through examples of appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviors in a risk-free setting. When you opt for custom training, you can even introduce employees to the specific, real-life scenarios they will likely encounter on the job. Then, when the time comes for your employees to apply the code to the workplace, they’ll already be well-practiced.
Training Measures Employee Progress and Performance
Let’s say you give every employee a copy of your code of conduct to read through. How do you know if they’re actually absorbing the information and key points? Adapting your written code into a training program is a convenient way to track and measure employee understanding. Employers can easily see every employee’s score and completion rate, determining who has grasped the material and who might need additional training. If several employees are unable to complete the training or finish with consistently low scores, this may indicate a larger issue with your code of conduct training that needs to be addressed.
Training Demonstrates the Importance of Ethics in Your Organization
Code of conduct training is an opportunity to build your company’s reputation as an ethical workplace. When customers see that your business is aligned with their ethical values, they are more likely to buy from you. From an internal standpoint, employees who complete ethics training will see that your business is committed to creating a compliant workplace. Not only that, but when employees feel that their employer is invested in their learning and development, they are more likely to stay with the company.
Code of Conduct Training Best Practices
If implementing code of conduct training sounds daunting, it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and a willingness to collaborate, any business can craft great training that drives results. Consider these six tips when mapping out your code of conduct training:
- Invest in Custom Training Solutions
Your code of conduct isn’t a boilerplate document — it should be unique to your organization. As such, off the shelf code of conduct training won’t be as effective in meeting your business’ needs. Creating a custom program that highlights your organization’s specific values, business model, and company culture will create a more personalized and relevant experience for your employees.
- Include a Message from Leadership
Compliance needs to come from every level of your organization, but leadership compliance is especially critical. Company leaders set an example of proper conduct for employees to follow. If employees can’t see that their leaders are committed to upholding ethical standards, then they are unlikely to do so themselves. Opening your code of conduct training with a letter or video message from the CEO will signal your company’s commitment to ethics from bottom to top.
- Avoid Point and Click
Too many training modules fall into the trap of point, click, and repeat. Custom training can break up the monotony by incorporating a variety of interactive elements such as video, audio, and animation. For companies looking to go the extra mile, consider investing in new immersive technologies like mobile touch learning or even virtual reality (VR). Diversifying your engagement techniques will make your training less repetitive and predictable, driving learner interest.
- Minimize Text Usage
If your training is relying on huge blocks of text, then it’s not much different than just handing employees your code of conduct to read through. Keep text limited to no more than a paragraph or two on each page. If you need to include detailed text information, consider including key point summaries at the end of each section along with engaging graphics that support the message. Minimizing your text usage will help prevent your training from overwhelming the learner.
- Keep Training Short
When it comes to codes of conduct, shorter is usually better. In general, you should aim to make your code of conduct training around 20-30 minutes. Any longer, and you risk sounding redundant and losing your learner’s attention.
- Use Periodic Microlearning
Effective training isn’t just a “one-and-done” type of deal. Without follow-up training or communications, employees will inevitably forget most of what you’ve taught them. Revisiting your code of conduct via periodic microlearning is a useful way to keep ethics training fresh. Short on time but big on impact, these bite-sized modules can help close knowledge gaps that open over time and make sure every employee is on the same page. In addition, companies can use supplemental materials, such as quick reference guides, to boost post-training communications. Employees can download materials from the training module, an internal compliance site, or directly through email.
Bringing Your Code of Conduct Training Together
Ethics have grown increasingly important in today’s modern business world – and increasingly difficult to uphold. Pressure to compromise ethical standards is the highest it’s ever been, and rates of misconduct are steadily ticking upwards. By taking the proactive approach and implementing code of conduct training, you help ensure your company won’t crumble under pressure and remains a strong champion of ethics.
Need help converting your code of conduct into effective training? Check out some of our training examples, and tune in for the final part of our Code of Conduct Series — Strong Code of Ethical Conduct Training: A Client Story.