Sometimes it’s challenging to get employees excited about things like code of conduct training. Oftentimes, the first reaction from employees will be boredom or annoyance. But training doesn’t have to be that way! By tapping into the psychological mechanisms we use to process information and make decisions, you can turn your code of conduct training into an engaging experience for employees—one that increases their chances of making good choices in real-life situations. In this article, we’ll cover tips for making code of conduct training interesting.
What is code of conduct training, and why does it matter?
Let’s start with the basic definition: a code of conduct is considered an articulation of an organization’s purpose, values, and expectations to all stakeholders—regardless of company size, industry, or for-profit/non-profit status. This document outlines the set of rules and guidelines for how the company lives its values: how employees behave, make decisions, pursue goals, and promote a culture of ethics and compliance. It helps clarify what is and isn’t acceptable behavior in the workplace, which makes it easier for everyone to do their job well.
But it doesn’t stop there. Companies must make sure their codes work in practice, not just on paper. This is where training comes in. Code of conduct training can help educate your employees on what’s included in your code, how those elements apply to their day-to-day work, and what consequences they might face if there’s a code of conduct violation. There are many benefits to deploying this type of training, which we outline in another article.
How to make code of conduct training interesting
Having a clearly articulated code of conduct can create a better work environment and make your company more attractive to customers: if you have a reputation for treating employees well, customers will be more likely to want to do business with you. However, telling employees that training is mandatory and must be completed can be a turn-off. So, how do you get people excited to take the course? Here are five best practices to inform your training program strategy.
Be intentional with your training communications
In addition to giving a clear explanation of what the code of conduct is and its policies, your training should address how the actions and decisions of employees—from entry-level workers to senior leaders—can impact others. This is where it helps to be intentional about what you say and how those messages can impact employees. For example:
- Explain why the code is important, what the benefits are from following it, and what the consequences are if there is a violation.
- Give employees examples of how following the code can help them be more successful in their careers—e.g., increased productivity, easier completion of tasks, or opportunities for promotion.
- Show employees how they can use the code to look out for their coworkers and create a safe workplace for everyone.
Make code of conduct training scenarios realistic and succinct for employees
Whether you use video, infographics, or another medium, it’s important that any scenarios used in your code of conduct training program are relatable. Employees need to understand how their training applies to their role and responsibilities at work. In addition, people are more likely to engage with training material if it is more timely to the world around them—as opposed to scenarios that look and feel outdated.
It’s also important to keep training scenarios concise. If they’re too long or complicated, employees may not fully understand them or care enough to retain the information, which can negatively impact your efforts to prevent workplace misconduct.
When creating course content, keep it simple.
Content for your code of conduct training should be easy for any employee to understand. To achieve full compliance, everyone needs to know what’s expected of them and why. The best way to go about that is formatting your training to be simple, such as:
- Using bullet points, visuals, and scenarios that are relevant to your audience.
- Using clear, concise language rather than technical legal jargon.
- Keeping training topics short, as opposed to having folks read long amounts of text.
Both the US Department of Justice and US Sentencing Commission underscore the importance of accessibility when it comes to codes of conduct and compliance training programs. Plus, LRN research shows that usability is a key dimension to overall code effectiveness. The same points apply to code of conduct training. (In fact, you can sample LRN’s code of conduct training here.)
Focus training messaging on what the company stands for rather than what it stands against
Too often, the messaging in compliance training focuses on the negatives: telling people what not to do, rather than what they should be doing. Leading with negative messaging inspires no one. Instead, it makes people feel fearful of making mistakes.
Opening your code of conduct training with a message about organizational values and what your company stands for is a more effective approach. It articulates why the way you do business means just as much as the business you conduct. Training messaging also presents the opportunity to explain how employees can live these values each day: how they behave, make decisions, pursue goals, and contribute positively towards the company culture.
Don’t forget to talk about customers in your code of conduct training
When framing compliance as a risk management issue, it's important to remember the impact on your customers. Training can help emphasize how unethical behavior not only hurts the company internally, but also externally. Consider using a recent example of a well-known corporate scandal and the impact it had on the business’ customers. It’s a necessary reminder that the acts of one individual can have a profound effect on so many others.
The key takeaway
Code of conduct training that explicitly explains what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable is just one piece of compliance puzzle. Training that is simple, relevant, and focused on values can help employees make better choices and understand the consequences of poor decision-making. To learn more, try LRN’s code of conduct training for free.