It may be obvious that employees will only obey the rules if they know what they are, and that is probably the most basic reason for getting effective, embedded training programmes installed in your organisation.

But there are other training drivers too.

Rewards

Increasingly, laws are being introduced around the world which incentivise companies for training employees.

For example, in the USA in 1991 the government introduced the ‘Federal Sentencing Guidelines’. These guidelines basically encourage the courts to reduce fines by up to 95% for companies which had put effective compliance training programmes in place but had fallen victim to the isolated act of a rogue employee (no amount of training will stop someone with criminal intent).

The UK Bribery Act 2010 makes it a criminal corporate offence for a company to fail to prevent bribery unless the company has put so-called ‘adequate procedures’ in place to prevent bribery. ‘Adequate Procedures’ include implementing anti-bribery training programmes.

The UK’s Competition & Markets Authority , which has adopted its Office of Fair Trading predecessor’s guidance about how to comply with competition law, also offers to reduce a company’s fine by up to 10% if it can demonstrate it had put an effective training programme in place. In 2014, CMA chief Executive Alex Chisholm said:

Many enforcement and regulatory systems are actually now seeking to encourage businesses to develop compliance controls, some by offering reduced penalties and sanctions. The US Federal Courts have been taking this kind of approach to the sentencing of organisations for many years, and competition authorities such as our counterparts in Canada and France have also included in their compliance programmes provision for firms’ efforts to ensure compliance to be taken as mitigation in determining penalties…our guidance on penalties is in line with these themes and policies. Firms that can show they have taken measures to follow our recommended processes may qualify for a reduction in the amount of penalty of up to ten percent.

These reward systems are on the increase – and are a powerful incentive for companies to put provide effective employee training, and to keep it refreshed regularly.

Early disclosure and voluntary settlement

Additionally, employees who have been taught how to recognise breaches of the rules by others – and to know when to speak up – can bring infractions to the attention of the company at an early stage, permitting it possibly to seek a deal with the authorities, potentially avoiding protracted investigations and court proceedings, and even helping their employer obtain immunity from prosecution or at least reduced sanctions.

Protection of reputation

People want to do business with – and work for – ethical companies.

Knowing how to keep a company and oneself out of trouble – and out of the headlines in the press – by doing the right thing is not only good for business but could even mean the difference between corporate survival and extinction.

Often forgotten are the personal consequences of getting things wrong – loss of job, family tensions, worry over prosecution or civil legal action, embarrassment in the community, gossip down the pub and even paparazzi outside the front gate.

In my next commentary, we will look at why ethics and compliance training is needed at all when there are specialists in the company to make sure the company gets it right.