It’s important to understand the value drivers (as well as any risks or downsides) of e-learning so that we can make exceptions and/or evolve our understanding as conditions change. The value of e-learning springs primarily from leveraging economies of scale where training content is substantially identical throughout (or across) firms. Recently, client engagements have illuminated how e-learning can be augmented-even supercharged- by adding an in-person component to training initiatives. When manager-led and/or peer-led training and e-learning are combined, economies of scale are still exploited but some of the risks of e-learning (a “check-the-box” mentality, employee disengagement, the lack of manager support because of competing demands on employee time) can be mitigated. One of the most frequent challenges to the implementation of compliance and ethics programs is a gulf between the ethical commitments of senior managers and those of middle management. By enlisting middle managers into the C&E training process, they begin to take ownership of C&E and their engagement in the process becomes a virtuous cycle.
One recent client provides an excellent example how e-learning and manager-led training can be combined to maximize the value of compliance and ethics investments. This firm mandated cascading manager-led training. Each manager, from the CEO downward, is required to lead an hour’s training with his or her direct reports each year. They integrate specially designed SAI Global e-learning content for approximately half of that hour, but the rest is focused on a discussion of issues of specific interest either to that manager, that part of the organization, or that year (as identified by the Compliance and Ethics department). This has resulted in very high levels of employee engagement and satisfaction with the compliance and ethics program at very low incremental cost. The “Tone from the Middle”, or managerial advocacy of high ethical standards, was among the highest we’ve seen, in spite of several conditions that might inhibit managerial engagement.
This is just one of several of hybrid models which some of our clients have adopted. We have also seen the use of organizationally distributed “ethics advocates” that take additional responsibility for C&E training goals. Different cultural and risk profiles imply different tactics, but hybrid training models can make existing compliance e-learning systems more valuable in a variety of contexts. SAI Global is responding to this shift in the market by developing flexible solutions that can be integrated with hybrid training delivery. Thus, as best practices evolve in response to the changing compliance and ethics ecosystem, our Products and Advisory Services teams are staying ahead of the curve to help our clients derive maximum value from their Compliance and Ethics investments.