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From A to B: Positive Culture Influence for Compliant Behaviours


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DateJuly 15, 2016 Posted by: Levi Phillips   Keywords: Alignment, compliance, learner engagement, #MakeItHappen

One big focus for L&D teams in 2016 is on building behaviours in line with industry regulations. With responsibility for guiding this behavioural change, how can technology help achieve aspirations?

Compliance training is moving away from ‘tick in the box' learning towards an approach that actually influences culture and behaviour. Or so it should be. L&D knows that learning interventions play a critical role in bringing about desired behaviour changes and producing tangible results. Early data from our 2016 Benchmark clearly demonstrates this - 86% of the L&D leaders who have benchmarked so far want to focus on building compliant behaviours (up from 78% last year). How can they achieve that?

A change in mindset is needed

Rather than thinking about how many people attend and complete a course, L&D teams have to focus on the actual content of training. What are we trying to achieve? What behaviours need to change? How does it reinforce and build upon the organisation's cultural values?

As always, L&D teams need to be thinking about all of this in relation to business needs. Any learning interventions have to be aligned with business goals and objectives. We see this time and time again when organisations benchmark - alignment with the business, along with an understanding of business goals and objectives, produces results.

The way a learning experience is designed is vital. It needs to be engaging, making good use of real-life examples. Technology has a lot to offer here. Good use of technology means L&D can provide training that is engaging, interactive, intuitive, personalised and on target. L&D teams and their organisations want training that leads to compliant behaviours. That's a good start. Are they achieving it?

How are we doing on 'compliance'?

Largely not, according to research into compliance training that we carried out last year. The findings of that research were published in a report called Excellence in Compliance Training: Creating a Culture of Compliance. During the research we asked the participants (251 companies from 25 countries) to report against 17 key drivers that were grouped into three areas: culture and behaviour, business improvement and risk mitigation. Participants were asked if they had largely or partly achieved them. From the results we found that although expectations are generally high, achievement is not. A little over a third (37%) were largely achieving their goals. Risk mitigation scored highest with 45% largely achieving it, followed by culture/behaviour at 35% and business improvement at 25%.

It's not that the participants didn't think the drivers were important - over 90% said 12 of the 17 drivers were important. The problem is that change is happening slowly. The good news is that overall achievement levels have risen from 2013 and now stand at 60%, compared to 55% back then.

What the L&D profession needs to strive for is training that engenders changed behaviour and attitudes in the workplace. That is what organisations want and need. Right now it is only happening in one in five organisations.

Those organisations featured in the report that are largely achieving their goals have some common characteristics. There are three very important words here: align, design and enliven. Let's explain further.


Those organisations that are aligning learning to business performance are enjoying the benefits. What are those higher achievers doing?

  • 73% analyse the business problem
  • 70% align business procedures and learning outcomes
  • 70% align learning and performance
  • 69% work with directors/senior managers to endorse learning

Engaging leaders, stakeholders and learners is really important. As is communication. Higher achieving organisations get the comms right. They are twice as likely as lower achievers to:

  • have an internal communications plan to engage active stakeholders (56% vs. 24% average)
  • provide managers with resources and job aids to encourage application back in the workplace (51% vs. 15%)

Getting line managers on board is also key. In fact, our Learner Landscape Study found that line managers are the most important link in the process - they are the biggest influencers in compliance training. Furthermore, our workshops show that the biggest challenge in terms of engaging line managers is showing them how business and compliance objectives are aligned. That was cited by 67% of participants.


Program design is also very important. Two in three organisations now dedicate time up front to make compliance training engaging and memorable. High achieving organisations are much more likely to include managers and users in the design process, rather than just compliance specialists. Training often involves storytelling, gaming and simulation, all elements that demonstrate how compliant practices translate into workplace behaviour.

How are the high achievers performing here? Well over half (62%) ensure that compliance learning is role-specific and almost half (46%) adapt learning to job role. Furthermore, 64% use visuals and animations, 59% use storytelling and 26% create opportunities for practice online.


This relates to technology. We found that 13% of organisations are moving to more innovative learning approaches, rather than relying on traditional e-learning. Instructor led training still dominates, although virtual classrooms and webinars are on the rise. Higher achievers are making good use of what technology offers - 70% use video (SME or user stories), 43% use communities of practice and 45% use games and simulations.

What are the benefits? Almost half (45%) of higher achievers are enjoying behavioural change related to compliance risks, compared to 17% of average achievers. They are also reporting significantly higher attitudes towards compliance risks (49% vs 19%) and awareness of compliance risks (69% vs 34%) than average achievers.

We found that largely achieving organisations are achieving nine or more business benefits as a result of their compliance training. One benefit warrants a particular mention - higher achievers are 26x more likely to have improved the effectiveness of the learning experience. You can't argue with that.

Identify your priorities for building compliant behaviours

At Towards Maturity, we have identified six workstreams that characterise successful, high performing organisations. From these workstreams, we have developed a common framework of effective practice.

Benchmarking against that framework helps L&D pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of their own organisation, work out what needs to change and map out actions. In short, the Towards Maturity Benchmark is a structured framework that helps learning leaders under pressure identify the actions that will bring tangible results in the workplace.  It helps you to work out how to get from A to B!

This year's opportunity to benchmark for free ends soon, so make sure you schedule time to review your strategy!

Or find out more about the Towards Maturity Benchmark

Read more in our 'A to B' series:


Also do complete our minipoll.

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