When it comes to content, few words are buzzing more these days. But what does it mean to “be authentic?” And what does authenticity look like in a compliance and ethics program?
Authenticity is all about connecting with your audience on a human level. It’s truthfulness in your actions, your words, and your intentions. Basically, be who you say you are, or your audience won’t trust you. (And if your audience doesn’t trust you, you can bet they won’t listen to you.)
Sure, you may be thinking. That all sounds great, but we’re talking about compliance and ethics here. Our programs are based on regulations and legal standards. We represent a company, not a celebrity on Twitter, so people expect a certain degree of formality. Is it really possible for compliance content to be authentic?
Absolutely. Not only is authenticity possible for compliance content, it’s imperative. A 2010 case study of a large financial services company found that when the compliance program had been “decoupled” from the company’s core business activities, the employees perceived a “legitimacy façade,” which led to institutionalized misconduct. The gaps between stated policies and what actually went on in the company made employees cynical about the program, and they “began to violate the formal compliance rules in a widespread fashion.” The compliance message backfired because it was insincere.
Employees can tell when your compliance program is just lip service. They know whether or not the standards you’re espousing are reflected in the company culture and the actions of senior leadership. If your learners don’t believe your message is authentic, they’ll dismiss it.
This is especially true as we evolve our content alongside the digital revolution. Back in August, we discussed how Internet use has rewired our brains for quick processing. Content must be authentic to survive, and audiences are better than ever at filtering out any information they find insincere or irrelevant to their lives. Your learners expect authenticity. Anything less will annoy them.
So what does authenticity look like in a compliance program? Here are 5 ways to keep your content real:
In short, authenticity benefits everyone. With authentic content, you create open communication and build trust with your audience—both necessary parts of an effective compliance program.
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