Outcomes not hours: how fewer compliance training hours may lead to better results

An essential protective tool for companies around the world, compliance training takes up hundreds of thousands of hours of staff time at Australian and global companies.

With ever increasing amounts of regulation, the burden of training also increases. Thomson Reuters reports that regulation changes in financial services are happening at an average of 220 alerts a day, or one every 7 minutes.

And even with this in place, misconduct still costs billions. Compliance Week reports“Financial institutions have been hit with $10.4 billion in global fines and penalties related to anti-money laundering, know your customer , data privacy, and MiFID regulations in 2020, bringing the total to $46.4 billion for those types of breaches since 2008.”

To mitigate this risk, ANZ Bank’s latest annual report speaks with pride of the 970,000 hours its staff are spending doing training, 530,000 hours of which is compliance training. Other major banks report similar.

Training is a major part of the solution, but how can we be sure this training works? How do we measure the value to our businesses? Importantly, how do we ensure it doesn’t become a drain on valuable company time?

One size fits all doesn’t work

Often compliance training is as much about assurance and culture as it is about learning.

When Bill Winters took over as CEO of global bank Standard Chartered, one of his first initiatives was to reset the culture. In a memo titled #knowtherules Winters describes a culture where some managers felt they were “above the law” and had sometimes ignored requirements to complete compliance training.

“I want this to be clearly understood – we have zero tolerance for any employee that deliberately flouts and circumvents our rules and policies, without regard for their seniority, or role.”

As an employer we need to know that our staff have an understanding of the regulatory environment in which they work. Should there be a breach, employers need to be able to show that they have provided the employee with the necessary training to avoid those breaches.

In the past this has led to generic, repetitive training material being applied across large audiences of employees with little acknowledgement of job role, native language, and risk profile. The outcome is poor culture, the avoidance of compliance training, and the inevitable breaches that come as a result.

So how do we resolve these seemingly conflicting objectives?

In much the same way we’ve moved from letters, to email, to Slack, and from conference calls to Zoom, training must evolve. In every other aspect of work, we look to increase productivity. We argue the same should be said for training, with a shift in focus from hours to outcomes.

One of the most effective tools is adaptive learning which is designed to recognise prior learning, trim down the training hours and give learners training that is more relevant to them. The technology aims to personalise learning paths and improve cognitive engagement with the training.

For example:

A bank in the US with 58,000 employees had an average of 1 hour anti-money laundering compliance training per employee, repeated annually with a pass rate of 80%. We were able to cut this down to 27 minutes and improve their pass rate to 100% using adaptive learning technology. In terms of opportunity cost in training hours alone this saved the bank a minimum of $3.19 million per annum.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have long seen the promise of this technology: “Adaptive learning is not some distant, science fiction fantasy … [it] may prove to be exactly what we need most right now – practices and tools that enable maximum learning gains for a diverse and broad array of students irrespective of their prior educational performance and preparation. Fasten your seatbelt for a ride to tomorrow.”

The key is that fewer training hours do not mean staff are learning less, in fact, the opposite may be true. We find by being challenged with content not seen before, there is improved cognitive engagement with material. And for compliance training managers, there is reduced push-back from learners who have been through the training before.

Targeted learning

Microlearning gives organisations the opportunity to create and deliver more relevant, pointed and current training. This style of content is also easily deployed using adaptive eLearning technology and can be scheduled as a campaign, or as rapid deployment to address issues that are part of the conversation now and perhaps currently in the press, or as regular internal corporate communications.

This immediacy is particularly important in the age of rapidly changing information about topics such as COVID safety, where it is essential to get information to staff quickly. It is equally important to track whether those staff have received and understood the message.

Microlearning can achieve this as it is able to be built quickly using text, images and video and deployed to staff within hours via their mobile devices, ensuring all have received and understood the messaging. Most importantly it can be built by anyone wanting to deploy information without the need for specialist graphics and design skills. A week, month or a year later this type of training may be longer relevant so an up-to-date training content management solution will be essential to ensure teams are no longer receiving it.

Driving employee engagement with the right technology is increasingly important with so many employees working remotely. Hours of ineffective training can be a multi-million dollar opportunity cost, and can demotivate staff. Companies that embrace the right technology and mindset will be well-placed to reduce risk whilst increasing productivity and engagement.

Curious about how you can make your training more effective?

Contact us!