The Network GRC Blog
Ethics Training: Teaching Values Rather than Rules
March 01 2013
by Keshav Nair, Marketing Research Analyst, The Network, Inc.
Since childhood we have been taught rules, and we have all broken the ones we don’t believe or see value in. Nowadays, we are inundated by policies, laws and regulations that can vary by role, industry and geography. Employee ethics training is now widely accepted and even necessary to ensure compliance as companies face large reputational and financial risk.
However, memorizing an endless list of rules is mind-numbing and serves little purpose if employees do not understand or remember how to apply what they have learned in the context of daily decision-making. A greater return on training investment can be achieved by teaching values, instead of rules. That’s where you’ll find the real ROI of ethics training.
Employees need to understand the organizational values that make up the rationale behind the rules, so they are armed with a framework when facing ethical dilemmas. For compliance messages to take root and embed themselves into the culture, ethics training must engage employees in an emotional way…they have to FEEL it, not just know it.
Investors Business Daily just published an article on the value of setting the proper example and following that up with thorough ethics training. As our CEO Luis Ramos, points out in the article, “Don’t look at compliance as a cost without benefit. Not only do you not get that fine, but you also get better performance.” Corporate policies, which should be linked to training, should tell people how you want them to act, rather than tell them what you don’t want them to do. As Luis says, “It shouldn’t be a list of ‘thou-shalt-nots.’”
Training that focuses on fostering ethical culture will lead to compliant behavior, as trained employees will automatically consider the values instilled in them when making decisions on a daily basis. Simply teaching a list of rules will only result in a mental checklist that employees may or may not remember to consider when making these same decisions.
Training on ethics, not just compliance law, is the more proactive approach to preventing incidents.
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