Training - Royal Dutch Shell plc

Shell adopts Day 25 of Ethics Month


Making Ethics training effective for staff

Using effective eLearning to ensure staff make the right decisions every day.

In late 2015 we redesigned our Code of Conduct, focusing on integrating the risk areas to align with ways of working. We also took the opportunity to change the Code of Conduct Training received by all 90,000 staff and contractors to make a better learning experience and further strengthen the ethical culture.  

The benefits were clear; by designing an engaging, interactive, tailored and effective eLearning module, we would better assist staff to make the right decisions through identifying risks, knowing when to seek help and to be comfortable in reporting concerns.



Our aim - Design a highly engaging, interactive and effective eLearning

Staff are constantly challenged by the volume of digital communication and for training to overcome the noise of everyday life and be memorable; it needs to be compelling and engaging. There are so many rules that apply to employees and trying to make eLearning cover every rule can result in ‘death by PowerPoint’. eLearning is an important tool but its value depends on a good design. We applied four concepts to make sure that our employees not only understand the Code, but also felt engaged and interested in the Code at the same time.

1, Making it relevant and recognisable for the learner

Much eLearning begins with ‘chapter 1’, the introduction of the topic, and is usually designed by Subject Matter Experts using overarching learning topics from their perspective rather than from that of the average employee. This often results in predictable, unfocussed training where the most important learning elements for each learner can often get lost.

When designing eLearning you need to make your eLearning relevant to learners and they need to know how they can use the information presented. With this in mind, we started by taking the employees as the starting point (not the topic).

We designed the course around scenarios that defined critical Code moments for an employee. Integrating the risk areas enabled the creation of relevant scenarios which learners can directly apply in their day-to-day roles.

2, Gamification

The gamification of learning is an educational approach to motivate learners to learn by using game elements in the eLearning. The goal is to maximize enjoyment and engagement through capturing the interest of learners and inspiring them to continue learning.

In our training, we created an engaging and game based storyline to grab users attention and try to make learning as fun as possible. At the start of the training, a newsflash informs learners that a fictional global energy giant has collapsed due to Code violations. Learners are then asked to go back in time to make the right decisions and try to save the company. Each decision made by learners during the training has a consequence, relayed by newsflashes, with points awarded for the correct Code based decisions. Feedback is also provided to the learners after each decision made. Upon completion of the interactive training, users find out whether or not they have managed to save the company.

3, Core Values as the underlying concept

For employees to make the correct ethical choices, it is important to not only communicate the rules but also the values that the company set as guiding principles. These are honesty, integrity and respect.

These values are central to the training and support decision making. Our CEO explains their importance at the start of the eLearning and through connecting them at various moments in the eLearning.


4, Reference to extra learning material

Much eLearning contains too much information and therefore creates a cognitive overload for the learner.


In essence, we want the learner to know four things:
- Recognise the situations where they might have challenges
- Understand ‘what to do’ to prevent harm to themselves, or others
- Know where to get help and advice
- That they should speak up when they have a concern

Therefore, the focus of our eLearning was on realistic business scenarios with guidance given after each scenario on where to go for further help. At Shell there are already multiple resources for employees to access when they encounter a difficult situation and we took the opportunity to create a strong connection between the training and resources (e.g. Helpline, Our Code, topic based E&C Manuals).

Annette de Vos

Learning Advisor for Ethics & Compliance
As an educational psychologist I am educated in how do people effectively learn and how do you support behavioral change. 


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