How to explain ROI of compliance training
The bottom line hasn’t ceased to be important for modern businesses. If a company spends money, it will want to know if the investment was worthwhile.
Investing in new technology? Launching a new marketing campaign? Devoting resources to research and development? The people in charge of these efforts and others must be ready to prove a return on investment and how the overall organization benefited before and after the project.
Demonstrating ROI for the previous examples isn’t usually difficult—compare how much you spent with how much was earned and saved. That’s simplifying the math, of course, but with obvious projects, the benefits are often just as obvious. However, not every initiative lends itself to a straightforward ROI …
Compliance training is a valuable, important, and sometimes mandatory endeavor, but it suffers from the lack of instant and apparent ROI. When training is truly effective, compliance incidents become less frequent and the inevitable costs of cleaning up incidents never materialize. The problem is, how do you derive value from a cost avoidance exercise? This paradox contributes to the problem of the C-suite not thinking an investment in compliance training is fiscally wise—the results don’t immediately and visibly contribute to the bottom line.
Fortunately, advanced compliance training does contribute to ROI, and its impact is more apparent than leadership might think. Here are some ways to explain that better training and a culture of compliance are worth the investment.
As much as organizations might want to employ an army of compliance personnel to oversee every action the company makes, budgetary realities make this goal impractical. Unfortunately, even adding a few compliance experts can get expensive. But what if you could turn every employee into a compliance expert in the targeted risk areas relevant to their day to day responsibilities? With quality training, your workforce gains basic compliance knowledge, and even some intermediate skills, at less cost than bringing on additional specialists.
Granted, training won’t replace the advanced knowledge compliance experts bring to the table. But teaching employees relevant, influential compliance principles keeps them from needing a compliance officer for every little concern. Compliance staffers will have more time for serious issues and can always be called upon when needed. Their efficiency is another way to measure the ROI of training initiatives.
Great compliance training saves time because it is tailored to the individual and provides maximum engagement and impact. In other words, employees are spending fewer hours in training but are learning more from the courses.
Delving deeper into the time considerations, organizations can realize ROI by switching to online training or to better online training. For example, if you cut training time in half, say to less than one hour on a typical course, that’s hundreds of work hours potentially saved across the organization.
The other productivity benefit comes from the quality of the training. If employees demonstrate knowledge and an ability to make appropriate decisions in simulation, companies can reduce the cadence of training so that employees, won’t have to waste time retaking the same course year after year. Adaptive training helps provide this impact, keeping the learning relevant to the individual user and automatically adjusting based on the employee’s interaction with the course. Reinforcement tools such as microlearning and job aids also deliver a relatively inexpensive boost to employees’ knowledge—and a noticeable boost to ROI.
Embrace the Data
The data compliance training yields offers great potential to inform strategy, shore up weak spots, and predict future problems. Advanced analytics also deliver ROI. Consider these examples:
- Training data can reveal concepts that employees are struggling with. Extra attention can be directed toward these concepts and employees so that costly compliance violations are better avoided—and ROI is realized.
- Training data can show where employees are excelling, thus allowing subsequent courses to not repeat the mastered information. The result can either entail less training or advanced learning—either path is cost-effective and provides ROI.
- Training data can be used for internal and external industry-specific benchmarks to show how employees are improving their compliance knowledge over time. Milestones are reached, and ROI increases.
Beyond the raw course numbers, data from other sources can also prove the efficacy of a compliance training program and confirm ROI. Examples of training’s ripple effect might include:
- Improved use of helpline or knowledge sources based on employees’ knowledge of training concepts, company policies, and company expectations
- Improved employee performance data, particularly if people aren’t devoting more time to wrangle through compliance situations because the “muscle memory” they built through training kicked in
- Financial data that shows a downward trend in inappropriate or incorrect payments, fraud revenue, and other non-compliant high risk matters
- HR data that reflects the effectiveness of diversity and anti-harassment training—anything from fewer costly, reputation-damaging harassment complaints to improved employee retention (important given how expensive turnover is)
The possibilities for correlating training data to other quantitative and qualitative data are practically endless. With each tie to an improved result, ROI grows.
The Disasters Avoided
What quality compliance training prevents can be difficult to accurately check—again, how do you put a dollar figure on a catastrophe that never strikes? However, if the incidents that potentially can lead to disasters decrease thanks in part to training, you can measure ROI from the subsequent efficiency gained.
For example, if email security incidents are cut in half because training is better informing employees about what messages and attachments they shouldn’t be opening, you can show a concrete savings in terms of reduced costs to recover from incidents, less downtime, less IT overtime, and so on.
This argument becomes trickier with rare compliance disasters you don’t see often, and risk can’t be completely eliminated with training. Yet even an abstract ROI is a powerful argument to boost compliance training. With the right platform and the right attitude, your program won’t just check the box—it will positively impact the organization’s bottom line.
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