By Mark Dorosz
President, Compliance Learning at Interactive Solutions
Compliance has traditionally favored punitive fines and codification over rewards for good behavior; the stick has dominated the carrot.
While this approach makes senses on paper, the average corporate worker, like the rest of the human race, is far from a rational being. Many of the decisions we make each day are irrational and driven by our intuition rather than a calculated cost-benefit analysis; the art of persuasion is just as important as the codified polices that govern our businesses.
In 2014, compliance leaders and their counterparts in corporate learning looked to behavioral psychology for a better way to influence and persuade employees to do the right thing.
Here are 5 top tips for impacting compliance culture based on research by eminent behavioral psychologist Robert Cialdini and his research into how groups adopt new behaviors back in 1984. While over two decades old, Cialdini’s research is providing fresh and relevant insights for compliance professionals as they plan for 2015.
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- Commitment and consistency
People like to finish what they start. Focus your efforts on getting people to start their annual compliance training. In terms of your internal messaging, Cialdini’s research suggests campaigns that encourage learners to start their training will have more impacts than later nagging people to finish their training.
The archetype compliance officer can sometimes be portrayed with same contempt reserved for a lawyer in a Saturday Night Live comedy sketch. In reality, workers are more likely to adopt practises mandated by people they know and like. More and more compliance teams are getting out from behind their paperwork, meeting their employees on a human level and becoming the face of their compliance programs.
People take their cues from people in authority. Just look at King Ferdinand’s success in getting the Spanish aristocracy to emulate his lisp back in 1479. Similarly, be sure your compliance training program features a message from a senior leader such as your CEO. Compliance success starts right at the top of your organization.
Our workforce is made up of experienced consumers who place intrinsic value on scarce resources. Just think how long that line is to an exclusive night club or the annual clamor for a seat at the Oscars. While compliance training never will, nor should it be, as exciting as a Hollywood event, we can still apply the principle of scarcity. Make your compliance training exclusive by customizing programs to specific audiences. A high quality program reserved just for your people managers will get more traction than a generic program pushed to every employee without regard for their responsibilities.
- Social proof
The corporate worker, like his or her fellow man or woman, is a social creature. Many people take great comfort in being at the center of the pack, especially when it comes to complying with complex laws that can end careers and land individuals in jail. Social proof is a powerful tool for driving the annual learning programs. Firms are experimenting with publishing their training completion rates. If you know 95% of your colleagues have completed their annual bribery training by Q1, the incentive to stick with the pack will help push many learners over the line from this tricky final 5%.
How successful has your organization been in developing a culture of compliance?