Effective Compliance Training Methods to Increase Reporting

Brittany Tomkies
Executive Editor
Loyola University Chicago School of Law, JD 2017


A September 2016 survey from the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics (SCCE) found that 83% of compliance professionals said their program prevented misconduct at least once in the last two years with 46% of respondents saying their compliance program prevented five incidents or less and 22% reporting 6-10 incidents were prevented in a two year period.

The survey also recognized the significance of compliance training, noting that training drives inquiries or reports of wrongdoing. According to the survey, 14% of respondents saw a large increase in the number of inquiries and reports after conducting training on a compliance topic and 58% saw a slight increase. Overall, 76% of respondents reported that training led to an employee coming forward to reveal potential misconduct that subsequently led to corrective actions designed to prevent that misconduct from happening again.

Increased reporting rates sounds good, but what is effective compliance training?

Arguably one of the best places to start when considering employee training is with industry guidances. For example, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a number of guidance documents directed at various segments of the health care industry, such as – hospitals, nursing homes, third-party billers and durable medical equipment suppliers. These guidelines were created to encourage the development and use of internal controls to monitor adherence to applicable statutes, regulations and program requirements. For example, the Compliance Program Guidance for Hospitals was posted in the Federal Register by HHS OIG on February 23, 1998 and on January 31, 2005, the Supplemental Compliance Program Guidance for Hospitals was published.

HHS OIG’s original guidance for hospitals states that “the proper education and training of corporate officers, managers, employees, physicians and other health care professionals, and the continual retraining of current personnel at all levels, are significant elements of an effective compliance program.” The guidance notes that all affected employees, physicians, independent contractors and other significant agents should receive periodic training on “Federal and State statutes, regulations and guidelines, [the] policies of private payors, and training in corporate ethics, which emphasizes the organization’s commitment to compliance with these legal requirements and policies.” HHS OIG notes that employees should be required to have a minimum number of educational hours, 1-3 hours is common on Corporate Integrity Agreements, and that continued employment should be conditioned on satisfactory completion. However, there is little guidance on how to conduct training. However, the need for effective training is clear and emphasized by HHS OIG’s use of the word “effective” 19 times in the original Hospital Guidance.

How can my company conduct effective training?

Compliance Education and Training can be delivered using one or more methods including:

  • Facilitated Training Using Case Studies: compliance training can be delivered using a two-tier live presentation, whereby the facilitator presents background information followed by the development and delivery of case studies. The use of case studies allows participants to apply standards of conduct to resolve the questionable issues and determine the best way to report the problems. This method can be expensive, timely and may require the use of quizzes and tests to track lessons learned.
  • Lecture Approach Using Slides: the straight lecture approach, while relatively simple, has been shown to be among the least effective methods, particularly in health care where staff do not react well to someone lecturing them on proper behavior and conduct in the work place. A final test or quiz is also recommended with this method of training.
  • Roll Playing Videos: videos that involve roll playing allowing for quick and effective communication of the underlying message while maintaining the viewers’ interest. The ability to conduct training remotely is also more convenient and the use of professional actors, while expensive, has been shown to be very effective. Some means of testing retention is also required. According to Cisco, by 2017, video based training will account for 69% of all of consumer internet traffic. In fact, many organizations like Virgin America are already using video based online compliance training to explain precautions to ensure in-flight safety.
  • Written Self-Study: using recorded and written materials provides for scheduling flexibility and ease of assignment, but may not be effective for the general workforce or industries where English is not the only language. Evidencing that the training was effective would require separate protocol and could be expensive.
  • Computer-based or Online Training: this method is likely to have high perceived credibility with trainees and has many of the benefits of role playing videos often at a lower cost. Progressive evaluation through quizzes provides both evidencing of retention and greater scale analytical data on effectiveness. One growing trend on computer-based training is gamifiction, where typical elements of game playing (like point scoring, competition with others, rules of play etc.) is applied to other areas of activity like training. This method, which is predicted to grow from a $1.65 Billion market in 2015 to $11.1 Billion in 2020, helps break learner monotony. For an example, see Practicing Law Institute and Ranj’s Internal Investigation Game.

While compliance training programs will vary based on the needs of the organization, a March 2014 report by Deocebo found that compliance training is adopting e-learning more rapidly than other training areas, with more than 50% of compliance training delivered online in 2010. Further, Navex Global’s July 2014 survey of 763 compliance professionals found that online training is the most frequently-used form of training for survey respondents, with live training a close second.

While computer-based or online training provides for efficient feedback and data analytics, compliance training needs to be specific to the organization. However, training effectiveness should be a driving factor in determining an organization’s delivery method. But regardless of your organizations approach, proper training will most certainly lead to reduced risks and liabilities and better organizational compliance.