In The Newrow: Episode #2 – Compliance Training

In The Newrow: Episode #2 – Compliance Training

Newrow Customer Success Manager, Danny Swibel, Discusses Compliance Training with Newrow VP of Product, Sam Thompson

Danny Swibel: Hi there, I’m Danny. I’m the Customer Success Manager here at Newrow and this is Sam. Sam is the VP of Product at Newrow and this is “In The Newrow”. Today, we are discussing compliance training.

So compliance training is educating your employees on laws applicable either to their job function or their industry and it can either be mandated by legislation, regulation or policy. Good corporate compliance programs ensure a few things. They ensure proper governance in your organization which obviously helps maintain a certain reputation for your company. This in turn may lead to better business. A more positive environment for your employees to work in is definitely maintained and even people’s safety is affected by compliance.

So Sam, most companies out there do engage in some form of compliance training nowadays?

Sam: Yes, I hope so and if they’re not, then they could be in for a world of pain on the other side. I certainly hope. Now of course, the form and what actually compliance training is varies from organization to organization. Very specific, a lot of times, to the industry that these organizations are functioning under. But you can categorize generally what are the main buckets of compliance training activities across different industries.

Now, Danny, you already kind of really touched upon safety. This is really the base, the specific one that you as an organization want to make sure that you are handling. Safety. With your compliance training you want to reduce workplace accidents. You want to make sure that your place of business is a safe place of business for your employees. This can come in in many different forms in terms of how to use specific equipment, how to conduct oneself in particularly dangerous environments, to wear a certain safety gear, etc. etc.

It’s very important, not only for keeping your employees safe, of course, we as an organization want to make sure that our employees are safe. That’s in our personal interest because we’re caring and empathetic people. But there’s the other kind of more, you know, real way which is liability. If you’re not teaching your employees how to work and operate safely in your place of business then you could be liable to accidents or injuries that happen along the way.

Another major bucket, which all of us heard about, it’s been in the news, is information security. We have heard about data breaches, we’ve heard information being leaked, we heard organizations not doing what is necessary to maintain the privacy of their employees and their customers.

Danny: And billions of dollars perhaps lost a year in hacks. I mean…

Sam: Exactly. Exactly. And really this came in form in 2018 when the EU’s GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation – came into play. Basically saying that if you are an organization with business in the EU, then you must be compliant with GDPR. If you’re not, then companies are not going to do business with you. Even if you’re not an EU company, let’s say that you’re an American company, but you want to do business with customers that are in the EU. You still need to adhere to GDPR principles.

Now the regulatory body is a little bit different. It’s not necessarily an EU Commission, in the US as part of the Privacy Shield frameworks, it’s elective by being an American organization. Really. It’s not. Most organizations today have taken on the requirements of GDPR because they realize it’s good for business. No one wants to be breached and everyone wants to make sure that you’re taking the necessary steps to protect your customers and your employees data. These are just good practices to take to make sure that their information is secure.

Other major bucket of compliance training is human resources. That’s kind of like the major one. I think for information security, it really gets the attention today, but when you think of workplace training, a lot of it was around human resources. In terms of creating a welcoming workplace from a peer-to-peer, kind of, how am I engaging with my employer? How am I engaging with fellow people that I work with? You need to make it clear that you’re creating an inclusive environment and that you want your employees to be happy and be able to work in a welcoming environment.

So this is not even, though it may feel a lot like you as a person inherently know, it’s really not the case. I mean there are people with different backgrounds in different cultures that we haven’t really interacted with in our day to day. You’re going to come into contact with them in the workplace because the workplace is a place we’re meeting a lot of different people of different backgrounds in different functions.

So going through some basic training about how to conduct yourself in the workplace and making clear what’s expected of your employees is really important. When you’re talking about training your employees and making sure that they’re compliant to your standards, the organization.

Danny: Yeah, this is definitely relevant nowadays when we’re talking about different harassment in the workplace. Yeah directed towards women. Definitely got people of different ethnic backgrounds, how they are able to be in this environment and comfortable. Yeah.

Sam: Yeah, you know, the metoo movement is reactionary to, basically, how life was for 50% of the population plus or minus in the workforce. They’re experiencing discrimination and a lot of this, okay are, we can say that people were may be operating under certain assumptions. They didn’t understand. That might be an excuse in some capacity, but if you are bringing it to the forefront and you’re training and you’re making clear what are the expectations of proper behavior in the workplace, then you’re really eliminating that ambiguity and you really create an inclusive, safe environment for all of your employees regardless of who they are.

Ethics and conduct. This really goes hand-in-hand about who do you want to be as a company. Of course, ethically, there are fiduciary requirements. There are legal issues that you need to make sure that you’re not doing insider dealing and bribery. Sometimes, especially in the financial side, it can be quite difficult to understand. Oh did I just actually commit a crime right?

You need to make sure that your employees understand what is ethical and legal in their profession. Sometimes it’s not necessarily clear. You need to deliver training to them in order for them to have an understanding and know what they need to do and how they’re expected to operate in your company. Okay.

Danny: These are the different topics within compliance training, yes.

Sam: Yeah exactly the main buckets. Okay, now, a really kind of interesting thing about compliance training is that 82% of organizations do either some or all of their training online. Actually 28% are doing all of their compliance training online meaning everything that they do for compliance training is online, but 82% are actually doing at least some if not all online. This is pretty interesting for a couple reasons.

One is that out of all the different types of trainings that your organizations do – sales training, leadership training, customer service, help desk, IT training all these elements that are mainstays of training – the highest concentration, the highest percentage of organizations that are doing some online activities in terms of which kind of training activity is in compliance training. So there’s something unique about compliance training as opposed to other trainings that makes it very suitable for being online.

So, obviously the question is why? What are the tools online? And what about compliance training is a natural fit for doing it online.

Well, there’s a lot of things that are pretty basic that you would understand about doing training online. First of all scaling. When you talk about compliance training, you’re talking really about company-wide training initiatives. Not just a small cohort of learners that are sitting in a meeting room, but hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands employees need to partake and participate in compliance training initiatives. Incredibly expensive and hard to organize. Meaning, you know, you have to fly people, too. You have to bring them in, that you have to have facilitators going, you have to have all the scheduling…

Danny: Just renting a room even. Renting a room to get all those people in making sure everybody could hear from the front to the back. I mean the costs are, incredible, yeah.

Sam: And if you’re talking about all hands on that is business also lost because all these employees are doing these training activities at this point in time instead of x y & z. That is actually business disablement. Okay. So of course going online means that you can scale your training initiatives.

You can deliver more training initiatives. This is also important when you’re talking about compliance. Sometimes it’s like, oh there’s an annual, I gotta put a check, and now I’m compliant, but the reality of the world that we live in is that it’s dynamic. It’s changing all the time

GDPR is a living breathing regulation that we are learning more and more about over time in terms of what are the actual teeth inside of it? How is it actually impacting organizations? We need to make sure not only that we’re giving one-off training, but you know, how often have you taken like, you know, read some piece of material taking a quiz on it and you know, four months later…what’s your recall? Like how much did you actually retain?

So sometimes we have to look at compliant training as not a one-and-done exercise. It needs to be reinforced throughout the year. Going online, be that live synchronous learning sessions where you can have discussion groups about certain activities is really great, but even kind of microlearning objectives. You have a little video that you’re delivering every once in a while to reinforce whatever compliance activities that you’ve done. Really important.

Another kind of mainstay of online is that there’s typically a lot of tracking tools around that. You’re able to make sure that you’re fulfilling certain obligations and that’s kind of automated meaning it’s saving your facilitators, your organizers, a lot of time so that they can concentrate on the presentation of said material rather than kind of doing the due diligence of checking attendance. They’re going through a sign-in sheet.

You also have a lot of different kind of ways to deliver assessment. It’s super flexible in terms of how you can deliver it and where you deliver it. The really big thing here about doing online is that you’re meeting the learner right? We can try to force learners to operate in certain way and say, “Hey I want you to do X Y & Z.” But at the end of the day, it’s like, let’s not necessarily try to change their behavior on how they learn because we’re already trying to change their behavior in terms of being compliant.

So concentrating on how we want the focus and delivery that and meet them, more specifically, on the devices, if it’s mobile first. It’s a much more comfortable way to make sure that we’re concentrating on what’s important and our training activities and…

Danny: Sam, I know that almost ninety billion dollars are spent a year for training so not only is this large amount of money spent but if people are perhaps getting flown to a different location and meeting in a boardroom. It might not even be fully effective kind of training. So with all that money spent it might actually not lead to the best results even results that can be fully tracked.

Sam: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely, so yeah, you need to concentrate as an instructor facilitator on making, measuring obviously the ROI on the other side, making sure that your learners are coming away with the understanding that they need and that compliance and conformance is actually met. How do you do that? That’s what you really need to concentrate on and really one of the number one ways for you to do that is to be engaging.

All right. Just like anything else, having your learners be actively involved in the learning process is going to be the best way for them to learn and retain their knowledge. So if we’re talking about, you know, a live synchronous session. Now, we know that there’s video lessons that you can look at, but I really like the format of doing these live. Being able to have a discussion. Being able to ask a question in it.

So when you talk about kind of like a virtual classroom system even different than a webinar. Webinars traditionally are maybe a little bit more passive. Maybe you just see kind of a slide. Maybe you don’t even see the webcam participants there. You’re kind of just looking and it’s not so much different than participating on a phone bridge where you’re kicking your feet up, you know twiddling with your thumbs, looking at your phone.

We’ve seen ourselves that when you have your participants joining on webcam, you always kind of see this. They sit up straight. They pop their collar and they fix their back when they see themselves on camera and they see all their peers on camera. There’s a certain level of attention and focus that they’re giving that’s a little bit different when they’re not.

Danny: You could imagine the problematic nature of a bunch of people being in a big auditorium, how you could definitely be passive sitting in the back. You have no incentives to actually, you know, sit up straight to fix your collar. So being on stage with your webcam enabled forces, you know in a gentle way.

Sam: Accountability. It makes you accountable to the peers that you’re learning with. You know, we’ve sat in those anonymous lectures before. I’ve, I’m sorry to say, that I put my head down and slept through a good number 101 lectures in my day. This is the reality of it. I’m trying not to be too finicky. I want to participate. I want to learn, but look, it’s really hard to give attention passively. It’s really difficult.

If you’re looking at stagnant slides, it’s hard. Look, that’s the reality of it. Now by going online and how many people join on webcams, you know, maybe that’s less scalable per se in the sense that, you know, how many thousands of webcams can you have on stage in any given point? But there are actually ways to make your online learning more engaging even at scale.

Let’s say that, Danny, you and I are giving a webinar right now. Maybe we have a thousand people that are kind of just viewing and maybe asking questions in chat and engaging us in different kind of ways around that. How can we get them to participate in discussions? A popular format is breakout rooms.

Let’s say that I’m doing a large compliance training initiative about how to conduct oneself around employees in the workplace. Really hard to do some assessment activity, you know multiple-choice quiz or something like that. Is that really capturing the essence of this interaction? A lot of that kind of learning is really coming through discussion, right?

So I can present some material in a very formal way which is kind of in that traditional compliance training style where I’m relaying information and you are noting it and hopefully retaining it.

Danny: Perhaps you’re playing a PowerPoint presentation. There are active speakers and passive listeners.

Sam: Exactly. So how do we transform those passive viewers into active participants in their learning? Breakouts a great way to do that. You can spend maybe the first 20 – 30 minutes relaying that information, but now you want to put it into practice.

You can organize your learners into sub rooms called breakout rooms. That’s kind of what you’re seeing in this slide here. It’s a little bit hard to share. But here this is kind of, if you imagine this is the list of your participants and they’re being organized in different rooms, then what you can actually do is break them out. That’s going to send them into their own individual breakout rooms. They’re going to be able to have a really fruitful discussion with peers in their organization.

It’s going to be people that might be in office location one with another team member that’s on the opposite side of the country. They’re able to have a fruitful conversation about how that it impacts me or what they think about and what an inclusive workplace means to them. A lot of this, the challenge here, is it’s not just here’s a fact. Here’s the answer. It’s something that requires a discussion. It requires deep understanding.

When people have a discussion they’re empathic. They have empathy right? They’re gonna be able to relate to one another rather than making it cold hard and unrelatable. They can actually have a discussion around it. They can run through role-playing activities, storytelling any kind of things that will, you know, branching scenarios in order to make it more interesting and apply the lessons of the theory that they were presented in to action. These breakout rooms. It’s a really great way to encourage that kind of collaboration.

Danny: To me it seems like it’s not only obviously an effective way to get the employees to engage each other, but I mean it’s just a lot more efficient because just imagine the chaos of again think of people in an auditorium setting having to have people break off into groups. I mean the amount of time that’s wasted. The chaos. So, you know this seems to be a very efficient way to create that special kind of engagement necessary…

Sam: That’s a really good point. I mean, you know, if you’re sitting in an auditorium, I guess, or a conference and you’re saying, “hey you go here. you go to these Group A and you go to Group B and you go to Group C…” Yeah, a lot of chaos. A lot of inefficiencies in the process. Doing this online means that you could do this highly engaging experience, a regular scheduled webinar one hour every quarter or whatever you need to fulfill your compliance requirements, and it’s a great way to make it still more active.

This is not to say that they don’t do anything on demand. A good way to do it, is they’re gonna be looking at that material. They’re going to look at the regulations. They’re going to read the company handbook. They’re gonna look at those microlearning videos that you’re sending them. But you’re also going to be able to put it into play in a safe environment so that people can ask questions.

That maybe that they’re nervous and afraid to ask outside of the training spectrum because sometimes there are things that you’re not clear on. Sometimes we have to understand that, we don’t see eye to eye on things that we do want to engage in. All that being said, the the fact that it’s hard necessarily to always make things under formal assessment and why it’s important to have these kind of discussions around that. That being said formal assessment is always going to be important.

At the end of the day there are certain obligations. We need to not only prove presence. Prove focus. Prove participation. But we need to prove understanding. Right now everything that we were talking about before is how do we encourage understanding. That’s by meeting the learner on the device or the way or the flexible nature of how they want to do it by making them actively engaged in their learning sessions, but at the end of the day, we need to prove their understanding. Formative assessment is something that you’re gonna need to do.

Now a nice thing about assessment, you can deliver these on demand, you can deliver them after the fact. But there’s a little bit of a problem in terms of the timeline. Delivering an assessment after the fact just means that you know that some people did not grasp the subject matter. They do not have that understanding.

Let’s say that we’re doing a live webinar. We have everyone here. We have our cohort of learners that need to go through this compliance initiative. You can actually deliver a formative assessment for that compliance training activity directly in that lives session.

This is gonna do a couple things. One is is that you’re gonna get the data that you need to be able to say, “hey, see this person was here. They participated. They’re focused. They were engaged and they got the score that they needed on the exam or the assessment activity.” But doing it live enables you, as the instructor, to see in real time how the understanding is going across the entire organization.

What do I mean by that? Imagine that you have a thousand people that are kind of looking at this quiz and you’re just connected here like this. Well, you’re actually able to see these kind of results coming in and in real time.

You can say hey, you know that 1 through 5 that was the first part of my lecture everyone is really the majority 85 92%, whatever our learning goals are or met, but I can see on the last three questions that things aren’t so clear. Did I go long-winded? Did I maybe people lost attention? You know, we all do that, so I know at that point in time in real-time, that I need to cover this.

You can take that information and immediately act upon and say, “you know what everyone? I see there’s a pattern here. I see that I didn’t present this material well. Let’s have a discussion around these three concepts here…” So having that ability to assess in real time and get that information in real time.

You can’t even do that in the real world. If you’re sitting in the same room unless you’re super quick at assessing quizzes or papers. By doing it online you’re getting that data in real time and it’s actionable data. It’s aggregated data. And of course, it’s specific user data as you need it.

So what we’re actually going to get into now a little bit, really quickly, because I know we’re short on time is tracking.

Doing is one thing but you need to actually prove that you did. When you’re doing things online and most online tools is that they’re really good at tracking all the activities and deliver that data to you in a digestible way. If you’re talking about they needed to come to live seminars or webinars or virtual classes, then you’re going to get that attendance record automatically. Not only that, you’re going to see what time they joined, when they left, you’re gonna see the total duration that they were in that session and you’re gonna know if they disconnected.

You’re also going to be able to measure participation. How engaged were they in this session? Were they asking questions in the chat? Were they talking on the video? Were they engaged in their breakout room activities? Not only do you have that kind of metrics that are measuring the different levels of engagement that we have in a session, but you’ve also recorded it, too, so you can actually see that level of participation as well.

Of course understanding. That’s what quizzes in formative assessment and all the different ways that you’re going to do assessment. That’s tracked automatically as well. You’re gonna do this tracking if you’re online or you’re not online, but when you’re doing it online that tracking is automatic. It’s removing the responsibilities of the facilitator to handle this kind of office work due diligence and allowing them to focus on what’s important which is making sure that the understanding of the employees is clear. That they know what they need to do to be compliant and whatever it is activity that you’re presenting to them.

So I want to kind of pivot because I know that I’ve gone long and I apologize for that. In our episode flow for “In The Newrow” we want to leave a little bit of an interesting factoid of the episode. One thing in when I’m learning and by the way we’re gonna link all this information in the blog. All the resources the links and the pages and the papers that we’ve been researching you’re gonna find links to these in the blog post and will link them wherever you’re looking so you can access that.

Danny: And you should access them.

Sam: Yeah, you should. Really interesting stuff. Not only in terms of why compliance training is important, which I hope is clear to you why that is, but what are some effective ways to perform these compliance training issues. We kind of touched upon lightly, but one tidbit really stood out to me in the data. That is that over fifty percent of organizations say the most effective training is working and learning together.

Now we kind of looked at this data here and found the exact percentage of the different modalities of learning. So we made some calculations based on, virtual classroom, coaching and mentoring, an actual classroom, and collaborative work. I think this is really really telling because the trends in learning, especially online learning, is in embracing scale, right?

Embracing scale often means to organizations that I need to come up with this like crazy and interesting on-demand modality. I need to produce these amazing videos. I need to deliver them on the phone, etc. Etc. This is great. This is important and we should do that and continue to explore that, but we also have to understand that, what is the purpose of training? That’s effectiveness of training. Really at the end of the day, still the most effective way for your learners to learn is for them to be able to have real-time communication. Not only with the facilitators that are presenting on material so they can ask questions but to learn, engage with their peers and the organization.

This is so critically important if you think about your your best times in school if you went to University. Of course you think about some interesting classes that you had. For me, the first thing I think about, and I think a lot of you would agree, is that you think about the amazing, interesting people that propelled you to your curiosity and to learn more along the way. It’s the people that you met and engage with that really makes, that really makes learning so amazing and so interesting so we can’t forget about that. Don’t forget about engaging one another and communicating with one another. Even having those discussions with one another it can solve a lot of the world’s problems.

Danny: No, really. I mean what you said is exactly spot-on. I mean being effective in compliance. The training is not just important. It’s mandatory. You must get these things right and to make it efficient and engaging is not only an added bonus. Obviously for the convenience of companies and the employees because they’re the ones being engaged. It also will in the end save these companies millions and save them a tremendous amount of time.

So really Sam, thank you so much for sharing this insight “In The Newrow”. It’s very much appreciated

Sam: My pleasure

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Sam Thompson

Sam Thompson is VP of Product for Newrow, a company dedicated to helping corporations and educational institutions distribute their knowledge easily, elegantly and personally through virtual classrooms, webinars, and online courses. With more than 10 years of experience in B2B and educational technology start-ups, Sam is responsible for defining and executing Newrow’s product vision, business development and sales enablement, and product marketing.