Is your ethics training useful?

Try the test below:

How difficult was that?

That’s the feeling employees get when they complete the quiz at the end of most online ethics training. They listen to the story of a fictional employee who overheard a colleague say he was willing to pay a bribe to get a contract and the quiz reads “What should Joe do? (A) Report what he heard to Legal; or (B) Nothing because he’s not personally involved in the wrongdoing.”

I’m exaggerating a bit for effect, but not that much.

That kind of training does not help employees recognize ethical dilemmas, does not show them how to take action, and thus is a huge waste of your budget.

Consider instead a live session between a manager and her direct reports (video call is great). Change the script so that it’s not clear that what Joe overhears is a promise to pay a bribe. Make the conversation about what Joe should do and how he should do it. Then shift the discussion and talk about how employees in your company, not Joe’s fictional company, should react in this situation. Who should they talk to? How can they reach them? What should they say?

The purpose of ethics and compliance training is to help employees be compliant and ethical at work. Is yours achieving these goals?

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