On 26 October 2022, K2 Integrity and Chartwell Compliance hosted a webinar on building impactful training programs that position companies and employees for future success. K2 Integrity Managing Director of Training Tina Rampino and Chartwell Compliance Vice President - Global Outsourced Compliance Malessa Babineaux served as panelists, with K2 Integrity Director Sara Elehky as moderator. This article summarizes the key points and analysis from the event. To watch a recording of the full webinar, click here.

A robust learning and development program is a must-have in today's environment. Upskilling and cross-training employees not only sets them up for success in their current and future roles, but it ultimately drives companywide performance, regardless of whether the organization is a small start-up or a large firm. A targeted training program can ensure the company meets the demands of the future while complying with regulatory requirements.

Changing the Perception of Learning and Development

Training is often viewed as an afterthought or a check-the-box activity to adhere to compliance requirements. A shift is needed to change the perception of the learner so that they understand how training will assist them in their current role and further their career, and to change the perception of the business so it is clear how the business will benefit from a workforce with enhanced knowledge and skills.

This is particularly important given the job movement that started during the pandemic, where people are changing roles within a company or finding new work at another firm. Providing training, particularly cross-training, is a way to create a sustainable workforce by growing the bench. It also helps individuals stay engaged in their work and continue to develop, which can reduce turnover.

When starting the shift of changing perception of learning and development:

  • Understand the process of changing perceptions is gradual and incremental
  • Recognize that cultivating leadership buy-in can take time but is essential to establish a culture of development and compliance
  • Focus on outcomes instead of inputs
    • Training is an investment, not just a cost center
    • It has bottom-line and regulatory impacts
    • It allows the company to position itself to meet the future needs of the business landscape
  • Show value to the learner and move from a push model to a pull model
    • Performing a needs assessment can ensure the organization is meeting the needs of individual learners and of the organization and can drive demand for the organization's programs

The Importance of Needs Assessments

Regulatory expectations for training have been steadily increasing over the past ten years, with a move away from one-size-fits-all training to a focus on creating more risk- and role-based training modules, placing an increased training burden on institutions. As such, companies must ensure that the training offered to employees is relevant and tailored to the risks within the institution and the roles of the employees. A way to do this is by conducting an annual training needs assessment.

A thorough needs assessment ensures employees are getting the targeted training they need to be successful in their roles by growing their skills and knowledge to ultimately support business needs and outcomes. Below are some questions to consider in a needs assessment:

  • What required training is needed? Does this differ by audience?
  • What role-based training is needed? What knowledge and skills are common or distinct across roles?
    • Surveying both leadership and staff on training needs can yield a fuller picture as there is sometimes a disconnect between the two populations
  • What is needed in the current state versus future state? Where are the skills and knowledge gaps? How will these skills and knowledge support business goals?
    • This data can help you build toward a sustainable workforce
  • How will employees access the training? Are there constraints such as location, pockets of time available, technology access, due date(s) for the program(s), etc.?
  • What does success look like (i.e., if the training needs are met, what impact will that have on performance, morale, retention, and financials)?

Creating Impactful Training

Once its training needs are identified, an organization should work to ensure the training offered is impactful for the audience. People are very busy in their day-to-day roles and their time is valuable. Providing an impactful training program will make the best use of an individual's time and encourage them to be receptive to the training. Some tips include the following:

  • Have a clear "What's in it for me?" message to foster learner buy-in. People should know why they are taking the training and how it will help them in their jobs.
  • Tailor content to the team/company. Tailored content that uses relevant, targeted case studies and examples helps people understand how the information is applicable to their roles. Off-the-shelf courses don't provide this.
  • Provide opportunities for practice (case studies, group or individual exercises) to show how concepts apply in the real world. This reinforces knowledge and skills and increases employees' retention.
  • For online courses, use final exams to provide accountability, ensure comprehension, and prevent click-through. Exams also provide needed documentation for regulatory compliance.
  • For role- or skills-based training, provide follow-up opportunities to reinforce learning objectives. Videos, communications, message boards, and team discussions can provide a refresher of the information.

Training Modalities

Great training isn't only great content. How the content is delivered can make or break your training program.

  • Live training, both in-person and webinar-based, is a great way for communicating new content/skills, leveraging participants' knowledge, and allowing for questions and, in some cases, coaching and feedback. There really is no substitute for live training and the interaction and engagement that are gained.
  • On-demand training (i.e., recorded webinars, videos, e-learning courses, podcasts, and articles) is a great way to supplement live training or introduce digestible content. The greatest benefit is that on-demand training can more easily fit into an individual's schedule; employees can complete the training when they have time or at a point of need.

The style of training is also an important consideration. In traditional training, training occurs in a classroom, webinar, or online. It can provide content with context in a customized manner. Just-in-time learning can address hot topics in regulatory compliance or industry best practices at the point of need. "Nano" or "micro" lessons (quick-hit trainings that communicate content in bite-sized portions) increase retention and fit more easily into people's schedules. These learning capsules can also serve as a refresher to knowledge gained in a traditional course. Employing a diversity of modalities and styles to reinforce key topics can be very beneficial.

In considering the modality and style best suited for its content, an organization will want to consider if the training is something that can be developed internally, or if external customized help is needed. While internally developed and delivered trainings allow for content customizations, external content is a great way to supplement existing internal training or address a content gap. For example, a specific department may have a need to offer required training on a very technical topic to a small subset of employees. The organization may not have the internal resources to offer this training, or it may be cost prohibitive to build something from scratch. Training from an external vendor may fit the need.

Key Takeaways

  • Leverage the company's training program to promote a culture of compliance within the organization
  • Conduct a training needs assessment to understand the organization's regulatory obligations, including its role-based needs and its risks
  • Gain leadership buy-in early to promote and support the organization's training program
  • Use training as a tool to ensure all employees understand their roles and responsibilities within the organization
  • Ensure training evolves with the business and stays up to date and relevant with industry best practices, regulatory requirements, and the needs of the business

Originally published 26 October 2022

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.