Importance of Compliance
Compliance and integrity are more important than ever for organizations. Governments have sharpened the legislation and regulations due to, among others, incidents in the financial sector, such as bribe and fraud scandals widely covered in the media. Public opinion has changed and demands high moral standards from all organizations. The damage that can be caused by non-compliant and unsound behaviour is enormous and there are many examples of organizations that have never regained from such damage.
That is why it is of great importance that employees not only have knowledge of the relevant legislation and regulations, but are also aware of the risks and their own influence. Nevertheless, in practice, compliance regularly becomes secondary to, for instance, commercial targets. Employees are, for example, trained for sales, but there is relatively little attention for compliance, integrity and dealing with the complex area of tension. As such, compliance often remains 'the task of the compliance officer' and is not embedded in the day-to-day job of all employees in the organization. In this matter, it is all about bringing about large-scaled behavioural changes within organisations, which is not an easy task.
Compliance and Machiavellism
Compliance is "the tendency of the individual to go along with proposals, questions or instructions in order to gain a certain advantage". On the one hand, this can entail adhering to rules, laws and codes of conduct of the organization in order to avoid punishment; on the other hand, it can entail answering specific questions of others in order to avoid confrontations. That is why compliance mainly relates to dealing with pressure.
Within organizations, besides dealing with pressure, there is also the matter of exerting pressure. For this, the concept of Machiavellism is important. Machiavellism is "the tendency to look for status for the ‘self’, to distrust others, to participate in immoral manipulation and to seek control over others". By combining these concepts, a playing field is created that not only does justice to the pressure endured by the employee, but also takes into account the behaviour and influence of the employee him/herself.
Serious gaming en compliance
The importance of compliant action with regard to the rules within an organization is usually clear to the management. However, how do you make sure that all employees within an organization are aware of this importance and of the risks of non-compliant behaviour? This turns out not to be a straightforward task. Compliance and training regarding compliance are often experienced as 'boring' and a 'necessary evil'. It is very difficult to get compliance at the 'front of mind' in all layers of the organization.
Recognizable, tangible, relevant
A serious game offers a safe environment in which employees can experiment. In this way, they can experience what kind of consequences compliant or non-compliant actions can have. As serious games can play with the flow of time, employees are not only confronted with the short-term effects of their choices, but it also becomes clear what these choices can mean for the long term.
Apart from generating more awareness in employees regarding compliance, serious games can also be used as an assessment tool in order to map the (current) behaviour of employees.
In traditional assessment tools, such as questionnaires, the employee plays an observing part. The employee is on the outside of the situation that is discussed or treated ('What would you do if?'). This could lead to the fact that the correct answer or approach is clear to the employee. In a serious game, the player experiences the situation and he/she makes the choices him/herself. By submerging the player in a realistic situation, the employee will be more inclined to make choices he/she would make in real life, too. Socially acceptable answers can be prevented due to this.
Ranj, together with GITP and Utrecht University, researches the possibilities of using a serious game for assessment of compliance and Machiavellism. This research is performed in a so-called knowledge transfer project under the GATE programme.