Trends and Innovation in Effective Ethics Training – IBE Good Practice Guide Launch Event

11 February 2021

Tags: Employees, Training

View the recording of our latest webinar.

In this webinar the Good Practice Guide from the IBE – Trends and Innovation in Effective Ethics Training was launched.

Dan Johnson, Head of Engagement, IBE, the authors Chris Campbell and David Barr of CampbellBarr and Jo Morgan, BT Group discussed the key messages and good practices that can be found in the guide. 

Here's a selection of some of the questions asked during the webinar:
Training historically has been the domain of HR functions. Are we seeing that HR is taking more of a backseat and, therefore, relinquishing responsibility?

Jo Morgan, BT: No, I am seeing the reverse trend (which I think is helpful) in the sense that HR are appropriately controlling the process of training and what is mandatory or not as the case may be so that all training requests from different areas can be appropriately coordinated.  

Chris Campbell & David Barr, CampbellBarr: We agree with Jo. Whilst most training has fallen under HR, E&C has typically been treated differently. Historically that did lead to some confusion and difficulties, but increasingly organisations are becoming more joined up to avoid training fatigue and periods of huge training demand. Outside of the logistics we are also seeing more demand for HR to become aware of E&C matters so that they can appropriately direct queries and concerns and vice versa. Employees often don’t make the distinction between what is an HR matter or an E&C issue and talk to who they trust and/or is available.

How do you avoid threatening other people’s territories if you try to integrate E&C into all kinds of management systems like e.g. recruiting etc.?

JM: There’s no substitute for conversation and asking people what they are doing and then thinking about how E&C can get their messages in there. I have always found that if you don’t mess too much with what others have planned they are happy to add in some content for your area. It’s about the art of the possible for me and evolution. If you go in all guns blazing demanding things from the start with other functions they will soon be turned off by you. If you use a bit of charm and start small with your requests it grows and evolves over time into really valuable partnerships. I have had some of the best relationships with Health and Safety leads for example who are often more than happy to use some of the content. Make it easy for people and they will comply!

CB: This can be a win-win for all parties. We are seeing E&C considerations appear much more often in recruitment and other areas – a company’s culture and values are an important factor for many candidates. More companies are embedding E&C elements into areas such as performance reviews and employee surveys. Increasingly a company’s values/culture are being used more explicitly in sales and marketing activities.

If E and C is set up in a silo, isn't that part of the problem? That’s why I think ethics ambassadors are so useful.

CB: Historically E&C was often in a silo, seen as an extension of legal and audit and yes, this was definitely a problem. Overwhelmingly today E&C leaders want to be delivering business benefits not only by protecting, but enabling the business. When E&C are properly integrated they ease stresses on the business, when they are not they are seen as blocks – typically because they are treated as an afterthought and barrier to be overcome.


JM: Yes, I agree – Ethics Ambassadors can be great and E&C should get out and about in the business too so that they are not in a silo!

What would be the actions you would like top management to do?

JM: Support – I don’t need loads of money (it would be nice) I just need the support. That means giving me the time in employees’ lives to do the training and also being really vocal about the programme overall and how important it is.

CB: We value what our manager values – if we see a leader being explicitly supportive and participating then this makes a huge difference. When we have had CEOs and members of senior management teams join sessions and actively participate, it has transformed how other employees approach the sessions.

What works best for training senior leaders? How do we get them to do it? How do we engage them?

CB: They seem to love learning about themselves and the frailties of others. We have found that using elements from behavioural economics really engages with this group. They like to be stimulated and intellectually challenged.

JM: In person, hard dilemma-based training. Nothing simple for them. Pick the hardest fact patterns that have no right answer. You will see some remarkable debates go on and it makes for real learning and real culture emerging which you can then decide if you need to shift at all!

Can you give examples of what is engaging?

JM: Making the content focused on the business and why it is important really helps with all levels of employees. I like content that starts with what the company is all about and then goes on to talk about whatever Ethics and Compliance area and how that supports the business. Most people like to know more about where they work. I have had videos from the CEO, live presentations from site leaders all focused on how the business works which have gone down really well. In terms of Ethics and Compliance content, I have done a lot of gamification – maze games – snakes and ladders – snap – that kind of thing which is simple enough to be fun and to be able to roll out easily, but not so simple that it doesn’t have some learning. I have also had movie trailers advertising the sessions and silent movies to make a fun point about feedback. For more specific topics, really realistic spicy dilemmas where there might not be a right answer have worked well, as has using the facts of real whistleblowing cases.

Remote training – how do we make it more impactful?

CB: Understand that the medium matters, you cannot take the material designed for face to face and expect it to work without alterations. Understand what the platform can do and utilise those capabilities to drive interactivity, it is much easier for learners to do something else or disengage when online, so keep them on their toes. Also be respectful of their time – it is tiring being on a virtual session so provide plenty of short breaks. Make sure your facilitator is comfortable in this environment – it takes a different set of skills and energy levels really matter.

JM: Make your content short, sharp and thoroughly engaging which means making it real – be that in the reference to the business or the actual risks and dilemmas you are using to make your points. People have to feel like it might happen to them or their people and they need to pay attention. Make it interactive too because the hardest courses to ignore are where you might need to answer a question or two as you go. Make the questions hard too!

Metrics – how do you measure the effectiveness of Ethics training?

JM: Bring multiple data points together. Opinion Survey scores, speak ups, H&S incidents, overdue audit actions etc., and target your training on where you see risks. For general ethics training you would hope to see a general decline in these issues, for subject specific training you should be able to measure some trends which show that messages are getting through – even if that’s more reported incidents initially.

You touched on needing to refresh skills – so can you comment on frequency to repeat training – assuming that we are all in agreement that training needs to be more than a one off?

CB: In the writing of the report we saw an increasing use of shorter interventions throughout the year to keep the topics front of mind. This is often less formal than the annual ethics or risk-based topics and can be delivered as part of other activities – conferences, town halls etc.


JM: Annually for general all employee ethics training, every other year on other specific risk training like ABC or similar but it does depend a little bit on the risk profile of your company and of course budget and resource.

You said how to “sell” to employees. Isn’t that "forcing" it on them when what you really want is engagement from staff and they want to know right approach, not have it lectured to them?

CB: The reality is that for a lot of employees (not all) they do not want to participate in E&C training. This is in part down to image and often poor previous experiences. When we talk about selling, it is about the whole experience – is the invite an LMS generated demand to attend or a personalized request that outlines the individual benefits and organisational needs? Is the training environment welcoming, supportive and conducive to learning? Is the learner encouraged to actively participate, treated like an adult and thanked for their participation?


JM: Making a good pitch for E&C training isn’t forcing it on anyone, it is showing why it’s a good idea. The key then is to deliver really good engaging content to make good on your promises and to make the learner feel part of the process by having a session that is interactive and treats them like adults so they are not being lectured at!

Do you incentivize and/or punish failure to take mandatory training?

JM: I have seen lots of different models for this. Positive reinforcement by giving a portion of bonus for completing the training. Physical reinforcement like stopping people from accessing systems or sometimes even buildings (!) for not completing training. The most powerful of all though was making it something that people had to do to be eligible for bonus or promotion. That shows that the company really believes in the importance of this.

CB: This is strongly linked to organisational culture and regulatory requirements in financial compliance areas. We are used to seeing systems locked if employees haven’t completed mandatory training. In other industries, it is less common. We are seeing more companies set the expectation that bonuses can’t be achieved without the completion of the training. Some companies post departmental league tables. If employees know that the most senior leaders value it and have found the time, then they will do the same.

You referred to interventions, would that include putting an employee through some training following misconduct or a breach of the organisation's Code?

JM: Yes, definitely. I have used training as a remedy for a breach in the past. I have also captured information about breaches to inform training programmes for the following year. It really helps to convince an ExCo or similar that the training is really needed if you can prove people keep getting certain things wrong.

Has the pandemic accelerated any specific trends and do you think training will tend to stay virtual after travel is possible?

CB: We think we have a growing appreciation for what we are missing – the need for human interaction so there will be an initial demand for more face to face. But we also have a generation of employees who are now more comfortable to share and discuss online and more E&C training will be done this way, not necessarily instead of face to face but in addition. So the cohort model where groups of learners work together over a longer time with shorter interactions will continue. We have talked about blended learning for a long time and I think this may accelerate the use of multiple training modalities working together.

What best practices can you offer around maintaining an ethical culture in this remote environment?

JM: Make people feel connected to the mothership and that someone still cares if they have a problem or step out of line.

CB: It is hard and we are all still learning about this. Some people really love it and like the freedom, others struggle. At home we have fewer reminders of the organisation and risk becoming disconnected from it, it is harder to check your decisions and to check in on each other. Finding ways to have meaningful conversations that are not just transactional can help. Many companies have coffee breaks together which helps, but having a purposeful conversation is better. This is where sharing stories or discussing ethical dilemmas can help.

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