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Anne-Marie Zell: Ban the boring and host a compliance event

We hear a lot about training fatigue. Communicating in an engaging way across a range of compliance topics can clutter employees’ inboxes and become a check-the-box exercise. How can companies keep employees engaged?

One approach is to host a compliance event — a week of activities designed to promote the importance of compliance and ethics within the organization.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (a TRACE Member) engages employees around the globe on compliance and ethics issues through an annual Ethics Everywhere Week.

Taylor Morrill, Specialist, Compliance and Ethics at Royal Caribbean said: “We have a number of fun and engaging activities and company-wide contests that we are putting forth for this year’s Ethics Everywhere Week. An art contest will provide employees a creative outlet to express what ethics means to them and a scavenger hunt will highlight compliance resources such as the Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. We’ll also collect nominations for Compliance Champions Awards and announce the winners and award prizes at the end of the week.”

Identifying a theme for the week that relates to the company’s values reinforces the compliance message and provides a structure for the activities chosen. Some companies have even created mascots or logos that can be used to promote their compliance week every year. The theme can be used online and in print resources created for the week: a special screen saver for computers, a header for the company’s intranet, or eye-catching posters for common spaces.

Company leaders should be involved in launching the event. A message from the CEO kicking off the week can be recorded in advance, as can teasers showing the CEO and other leaders participating in the activities. These messages create excitement about the event and help ensure widespread participation.

During the week, daily contests and games that direct participants to compliance resources provide opportunities for education while employees have fun competing either individually or as a team. These activities need not be complicated or require a lot of resources. For example, companies can hold a “selfie contest,” (as Intel did in 2015) where employees take a picture of themselves holding a drawing or phrase explaining what integrity means to them, or ask employees to build a comic strip incorporating a value from the company code of conduct. Sharing selected entries and holding a raffle for participation prizes can maintain momentum throughout the day.

A week of compliance is also an opportunity to host a group viewing of a training course or video, as noted by Huda Al Bander, Group Compliance Associate at Cambridge University Press: “Cambridge University Press has celebrated the UN International Anti-Corruption Day for two years now and this will be our third. We use it as a chance to raise awareness and we try to engage the business using word searches that we make/competitions/drop in sessions and last year we used it to release our new compliance team film and had a viewing with popcorn!”

Companies without their own compliance video can use preexisting materials such as TRACE’s How to Say No, which is available to TRACE Member companies, or the Bribe Busters series, which is publicly available. Following the viewing with discussion or Q&A with compliance staff gives employees a chance to ask questions or raise concerns. Small things like providing popcorn can go a long way to making the event feel novel instead of like just another training.

Finally, another objective the event achieves is recognizing and celebrating employees who embrace and live the company’s values. To close the week, companies can announce contest winners, select “Compliance Champions” from nominations collected during the week, and distribute certificates to participating employees.

Communicating with employees through fun and engaging activities will help prevent compliance and ethics messages from getting lost in the noise. With a little planning and creativity, companies can create an event that employees will look forward to year after year.

TRACE has developed a complimentary Compliance Event Toolkit for companies who would like to create their own compliance event.


Anne-Marie Zell, pictured above, is the Manager of Member Services at TRACE International. She assists multinational corporations in developing and supporting their anti-bribery compliance programs and advises on tailored anti-bribery compliance solutions. She is an experienced anti-bribery and compliance attorney with a special focus on the retail industry.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for the very intriguing and insightful article. I took away a number of the tips/ suggestions.

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