Most Businesses Not Yet Benefiting From Technology-Enabled Ethics and Compliance Training

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Study finds only 2 in 10 companies are achieving their goals to protect and elevate their businesses

With personal liability at stake, senior management need to get behind compliance and ethics training and recognize that a check-box approach is unlikely to protect them and their business

Towards Maturity announced the findings of a new study sponsored by SAI Global, which found that despite an environment of record regulatory enforcement and personal liability for senior executives, most organisations are still applying a check-box approach to ethics and compliance training and failing to achieve the business goals they set out. This raises serious considerations for companies as they implement their programs, with ethics and compliance failures continuing to dominate headlines.

To act as a catalyst for improvement, the study, Excellence in Compliance Training: Creating a Culture of Compliance, investigated what Higher Achievers – the organisations largely achieving their goals – do differently to Lower Achievers, providing learning for the industry about what approaches are delivering the best business results.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Nine in ten compliance professionals are looking to improve business impact, get the right people in place and improve the processes of talent and performance management, but only two in ten are largely achieving these goals;
  • Top barriers to success include the time to deliver and build quality, relevant and global learning content;
  • Across a sample of over 5,000 learners, 26% reported that uninspiring learning content was a major barrier to their learning online;
  • 38% of organisations have an internal communications plan to engage stakeholders (compared to 36% in 2013). 34% send regular reminders to remind staff to apply learning in context.

The study found that Higher Achievers (those largely achieving 9 or more of 17 identified business drivers), are consistently taking different approaches to their training than Lower Achievers (those largely achieving 0-1 drivers).

Higher Achievers focused on aligning their training programs more closely with their business objectives from the outset. Compared to Lower Achievers, Higher Achievers were more than twice as likely to ensure that learning was closely aligned to performance and business objectives, and twice more likely to report against KPIs that they had set for their learning objectives. They were also three times more likely to report against KPIs set for business objectives.

Higher Achievers approached the design of their programes differently to those not achieving their goals, the study found. Across the sample as a whole, just 29% of participants responded that they target compliance learning to job role, a decrease of 4% from a similar study by Towards Maturity in 2013. This is an area where Higher Achievers stand out—they were twice more likely to align learning to job role than Lower Achievers. Higher Achievers also developed their programes with a firm understanding of regulatory environment, with 87% understanding regulator requirements, dropping to 67% for Lower Achievers. Higher Achievers were also found to be more than twice as likely to work alongside subject matter experts in the design of their compliance programs.

Enlivening Through Technology
Technology was a key enabler for Higher Achievers who were 26 times more likely to have improved the effectiveness of the learning experience through better application of technology than Lower Achievers.

The study also revealed that approaches to technology to support compliance and ethics training are evolving, with a shift in thinking away from the traditional e-learning course approach. Now, 13% of organisations are moving to more innovative learning approaches, including gamification and mobile delivery, rising to 24% in APAC countries.

Peter Mullins, CEO, SAI Global, commented on the findings,

“With personal liability at stake, senior management need to get behind compliance and ethics training and recognize that a check-box approach is unlikely to protect them and their business, or drive wider organizational cultural benefits. We are pleased to help provide this valuable insight into what high-achieving companies are doing, to act as a blueprint for compliance teams looking to raise their game and demonstrate better value to the business.”

Laura Overton, Managing Director at Towards Maturity added,

“High achieving organizations are collectively thinking about compliance and ethics training differently. Rather than tick-box exercises where success in measured by completion, these companies are aligning their training with business goals and objectives, designing training to be engaging and rooted in real world examples, then bringing it all together and enlivening the experience through the use of technology that supports innovative and varied delivery.”

The full report and accompany summary and infographic can be downloaded at:


About this Research

Over 250 organizations took part in the study, which included a detailed online survey and input from a series of international workshops with senior personnel responsible for compliance training, along with insights from a sample of over 5,000 learners who took part in the 2015 Towards Maturity Learning Landscape study. Over 25 countries were represented, with 43% from EMEA, 34% from the Americas and 23% from APAC. Of the participants, 63% represented multinationals, 28% were from organizations operating from multiple locations within a single nation, and 9% operated from a single location.

About SAI Global Compliance

SAI Global is passionate about helping businesses improve. We offer a broad range of services for compliance, ethics and risk management to businesses worldwide and in Australia we also offer specialized property services to the financial, legal and conveyancing sectors. Our customers value our expertise in building ethical business practices, streamlining processes and managing complex risk issues across the risk life cycle. By helping our customers create trust with their customers, we know that in a small way we are contributing to making the world a better place.

SAI Global Limited is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and our head office is in Sydney, Australia. We have around 2,000 employees in 29 locations across Europe, North America, and Asia.

About Towards Maturity

Towards Maturity is a benchmarking research company that provides independent expert advice and support to help organisations use learning technologies to accelerate business performance. It leverages the data of its in-depth Benchmark Study, the largest learning technology benchmark in Europe. Since 2003, over 4,400 organisations and 18,000 learners have contributed to Towards Maturity’s leading benchmarks.

Thanks to the support of Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors, annual benchmarking findings, case studies and resources are available to download for free at
The Towards Maturity Ambassador Programme is made up of leading learning organisations. They work together as Ambassadors for change, identifying and improving good practice, raising awareness and driving the whole learning industry forward.

The Towards Maturity’s Ambassador Programme includes strategic partner CIPD, the founding Ambassadors: Brightwave, Learning Technologies, LEO, SuccessFactors, Corporate eLearning Consortium and Charity Learning Consortium, plus Acteon, City and Guilds: Kineo, Docebo, DPG plc, eCom Scotland, GoodPractice, Kallidus, KPMG, Kydon, LRMG, Lumesse, Raytheon Professional Services, Redware, Reed Learning, Saba Software, Skillsoft, Speexx and Sponge UK.

Learn more about Towards Maturity’s Ambassadors
Learn more about Towards Maturity’s unique benchmarking tools and models

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Colin Campbell
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