• Lesley Coutts, Senior Manager |
4 min read

What is learning and how do you embed a culture of learning with UK SOx?

A culture of learning and growth in an organisation is promoted through the in-house policies implemented. One such example is Sarbanes-Oxley. Unlike what most people believe, the implementation of SOx is not a tick box exercise. It is an opportunity to make real change. Businesses should approach UK SOx with a transformational mindset, rather than simply needing to be compliant. It should not be considered as a part of the working model.

Learning is a key pillar in the embedding of UK SOx within an organisation. Also, its implementation in the US shows that it is not a one-off activity. Rather, it is a continuous learning exercise that is personalised. Lessons from US SOx clearly show that we should approach it with a different mindset in the UK. It is important to think about the benefits for individuals as well as the whole business from the outset.

With UK SOx on the horizon, cost, time, engagement in and outside the office, and cultural change are some of the areas that are directly impacted. It is important to bring your leaders on the journey, the cultural shift for change implementation often needs to come from the top for it to be a success. In my experience learning programmes will not be as successful if the leadership adoption is not bought into. It can negatively impact more junior employees and new talent as they get drawn in or overridden by those who have ‘old’ views

What is the right approach for the implementation of UK SOx?

UK SOx should not be a high-level process change. It should be embedded in the organisation and through the company culture. As a result, it is crucial to educate the workforce, and address the reasons why it impacts their role. People need to understand the context of why they are being asked to make changes to their way of working. They need be made aware of how their actions will make an impact, what is the competency of the scenario and what would the results be if they don’t get it right.

Alongside, leaders also need to help their workforce understand this as a team – what is the team impact? This is an aspect not to be missed out on. Learning from the past – US SOx – can help us get answers to what hasn’t previously worked and what can we do differently this time.

To put things into perspective, a quote that resonates with me is “How do you make your team care emotionally, intellectually and aesthetically?” And I think, it brings out clearly all the aspects that you need to focus on.

Learning should be tailored to personas, key risk groups, key roles, etc., and not a one size fits all approach. It should be impactful. Active, on-the-job learning with practical applications will help them understand accountability better. Risk-based learning will help employees understand the impact of their actions on others and financial statements. While errors will be inevitable when using this approach, it is crucial to look at the learnings that will happen for the future.  

What are five key considerations from for organisations for a successful learning programme?

  1. To get individuals on board, realisation of gaps is important. Explain your workforce about the change needed and you’ll see their willingness to change. Have healthy discussions on how do you address the identified gaps?
  2. Talk about the individual impact people can make and why? Weave in the impact on financial statements to make your workforce understand the importance of their actions during SOx implementation. Talk clearly about accountability within the team.
  3. Define control principles to help people change their methods over time.
  4. Teach people what they need to know versus teaching them everything. Make it personalised by bringing in personas to make learning relevant.
  5. Pre and post competency and confidence assessment so that you can track ROI on the learning spend.

How can we support you?

Our experience with US SOx implementation gives us a good understanding of what works when it comes to educating your workforce. We work using a risk-based testing method. Using a psychological testing tool for self-assessment and awareness of the gaps in your current system, we:

  • make you ask the right questions about your existing control systems
  • identify the gaps in your current approach
  • build a positive environment by instilling confidence and helping you close the gaps identified
  • establish what needs to be done differently
  • make the process of learning engaging.

If you wish to understand how your organisation can take the right steps and be prepared for a seamless transition in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.