What you’d never expect to find when you type “compliance” and “culture” in the same search box…

First things first, just to make sure we avoid any misunderstandings and confusion: What exactly is compliance?

When looking for a definition I consulted the Oxford Dictionaries, which defines compliance as “the state or fact of according with or meeting rules or standards”.  Organisationally, compliance is about following a set of rules on a particular area of the business.

Having just left university, and begun my working life, I’ve seen compliance in a completely new setting. In a working environment, compliance stipulates (or should stipulate) the vast majority of decisions we make on a day-to-day basis. These decisions should have direct correlation to the outcome, and the outcome is what matters: it’s directly linked to organisational performance.

Each action performed by each and every employee independently in an organisation impacts overall performance. Non-compliance starts with individuals – and it can stop there too.  Do employees need to be constantly warned and bombarded with endless workshops and training to stay compliant? Thankfully, the answer is no.

That’s why building and sustaining a culture of compliance in an organisation is critical.

Rules are too often pictured as something that have to be accepted and followed. But who really likes being told what they can and can’t do?

We have to move away from the mind-set of setting policies and rules only to avoid potential damages to a company. Instead, the goal should be to encourage the right behaviour. It is only by winning people’s hearts and minds that you can achieve true compliance. We do, of course, have to set rules, but they will only be effective if people believe in the reason why they’ve been put in place.

That’s when well-designed and well-defined elearning comes into play.

Here again, you might argue that elearning is boring, or something that you HAVE to do rather than WANT to do. The common complaint is that it is a ‘tick-the-box’ exercise required by management. While in some cases this is true, you may have missed the two main adjectives here: well-designed and well-defined.

It’s about putting the learner at the heart of the learning, allowing them make their own decisions in a safe environment. This means learners are free to reflect upon and gain insight on the potential consequences of the decisions they make in their day-to-day work. This approach is highlighted in a recent webinar delivered by Saffron in partnership with Coca-Cola Hellenic last July.

More often than not there will be a time in a person’s career, when they might knowingly break the rules. This could be due to any number of reasons:

You’re late for lunch; that new password can wait; you don’t know how to encrypt your memory stick and could wait until next time; you really fancy visiting that extortionately priced restaurant that a client has offered to take you to.

The list of scenarios is endless, but the line isn’t always clear. When risks seem small, the chances of the employee breaking the rules increases. To change someone’s mind-set about the risks that they may take, there needs to be challenges, which are made to view them from a different perspective.

Take the example of a recent environmental disaster that’s led the Environmental Agency to exercise its sentencing powers, imposing heavy fines punctured on profits. The company deliberately ignored warnings from the control centre which later uncovered this disaster. If individuals had known that they hadn’t paid enough attention to the potential consequences of their actions, the fines could’ve been avoided.

It is too late for them, but it isn’t for you. It is absolutely critical to provide learners with authentic scenarios that enable them to consider the potential consequences of their actions.

Now next time you will type “compliance” and “culture” in the same search box, you can expect to get results on ways to build a compliance culture. What you might not expect would be to find that it can be achieved with a scenario-based approach as part of a digital training strategy.

At Saffron, we believe in the use of challenging, risky and stimulating scenarios as a way to invite learners to change their perception and attitudes, leading to effective, viable and voluntary compliance.

As a designer to be able to deliver this, is a true pleasure.

I look forward to learning more, and I hope you do too!