Regulated UK firms are wasting millions of pounds on statutory risk training by failing to ensure that workers put into practice what they have learned in the classroom.
Jane Massy, UK partner at the Return on Investment Institute and chief executive of training evaluation consultancy abdi, warned that many companies operating in regulated sectors ranging from financial services to healthcare lacked the necessary business processes to link statutory training to behavioural change in staff - even though such activity should form a core part of their risk management procedures.
“Many firms view statutory training as a box-ticking exercise and something of an inconvenience. It gets treated as a cost by the board – yet they are ultimately responsible if something goes wrong that training should have addressed,” she said.
While much time and effort was spent on identifying capital risk, operational failures as a result of human behaviour were a “seriously under-managed risk area” despite the impact on the organisation’s reputation if things went wrong, Massy attested.
By and large, however, there was not only “no evidence that anyone learned anything in many training courses”, but there was also “almost never” any monitoring in place to ensure that compliance occurred consistently and that staff behaviour was changed as a result.
The fact that regulated firms were simply required in most cases to prove that personnel had attended courses led to “poor quality, ineffective ‘sheep-dipping’” that was not taken seriously, Massy said.
“Unless rigorous data is collected and analysed on the effectiveness of statutory training in changing behaviours, the money that firms are required to spend will have had no benefit at all. Risk management and training are two separate worlds, but they need to join up in order to ensure risk is kept to a minimum,” she added.
Although most organisations kept detailed risk registers, such information was rarely shared with those responsible for staff training. Moreover, before agreeing to “spend even a penny”, senior managers rarely asked themselves how staff were currently acting and what impact the failure to ensure compliance and proper staff behaviour was likely to have on the organisation, Massy said.