Top 10 Hall of Fame Outstanding Training Initiatives (Sept./Oct. 2018)

Each year Training magazine requires all Training Top 10 Hall of Famers to submit an Outstanding Training Initiative that is shared with our readers in a print issue. Here are the details of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Ethics & Compliance Curriculum Transformation and KPMG LLP’s Accounting Update Micro-Learning Series.

Booz Allen Hamilton: Ethics & Compliance Curriculum Transformation

Booz Allen Hamilton’s EthicsFirst approach to doing business enables the highest performance of its employees, increases the firm’s ability to attract and retain top talent, provides outstanding service to clients, and upholds its reputation of integrity. The revitalization of its ethics and compliance training program validates that leaders and employees understand Booz Allen’s expectations for conduct that reflects the firm’s ethics and values standards, have tools and training to enable them to meet such expectations, and can effectively and safely raise concerns without fear of retaliation.

The firm’s original mandatory ethics and compliance training program was content heavy (focusing on policies, laws, rules, and codes of conduct) and not interactive or engaging. The training was not personalized, and employees were required to commit up to 6 training hours a year. Now in its second year of revitalization, enhancements are making the training more memorable, relevant, and engaging for better retention.

Program Details

The Learning and Development team, in partnership with the Ethics and Compliance team, worked with senior leaders across the firm to develop an engaging, values-based curriculum for more than 24,000 employees. Included in this new format is an emphasis on:

  • Booz Allen's purpose-driven, values-based culture
  • Critical topics such as living Booz Allen values, information security, emotional wellness, time reporting, anticorruption, competing fairly, and designated insiders
  • How individuals at Booz Allen handle ethical situations and raising concerns
  • Reporting any behavior that makes employees uncomfortable; is suspicious; or represents risk to themselves, others, or the firm
  • Compliance with laws, regulations, and internal policies

The structure of the program is predicated around five key areas of focus: delivery method, content development, stakeholder collaboration, implementation, and continuous education.

Six out of seven courses are delivered via self-paced online modules with interactive features to engage employees at their own pace and location via computer, tablet, or mobile app. The other course that covers Booz Allen’s purpose and values has a team option, which allows leaders to decide if their employees will complete an online version or participate in a live leader-led session. For the live session, leaders facilitate an in-person/virtual team meeting, so all team members take the course together. In the group, the team discusses a scenario, along with any decisions they need to make, and the potential outcomes of each decision. At the end of the course, the group discusses the key takeaways and asks questions.

The training program also offers an alternative for the 6,000 employees without a Booz Allen-issued computer. In this program, there are additional easy-to-access options to complete the training, including:

1. Take the training through the learning management system (LMS) on their own personal device

2. Receive a standalone, interactive electronic version via e-mail

3. Receive a hard copy version by U.S. Mail

For the first time since the program initially launched as an annual requirement in 2012, employees were offered the option of demonstrating their proficiency at the start of the courses through a set of pre-test questions for each topic. Those who pass the pre-test confirm their knowledge of the content and are exempt from that section of the course and can move on more rapidly.

In alignment with certain course topics, Booz Allen launched an “Ethics Moments” campaign of real-life scenarios to help employees learn from the experiences of others and guide them in ethical decision-making. The team distributes stories via e-mail and posts to internal sites within 60 days of a course launch to reinforce the messaging from the training.

The third year of the revitalization will include a gamified experience spread throughout the year by embedding content and messaging in multiple communication and learning channels.


Nearly 100 percent of employees completed the training courses by the deadline. Overall satisfaction ratings for ethics and compliance courses increased from an average of 77 percent to 90 percent.

By refining course content to focus on key messages and deploying only relevant courses to employees, Booz Allen saw improvements in retention and the user experience. Employees now spend 1.5 to 3 training hours per year versus 3 to 6 hours prior to the redesign, cutting the cost of labor spent on training in half.

KPMG LLP: Accounting Update Micro-Learning Series

KPMG Business School had an opportunity to increase the return on learning time investment through an innovative new approach to delivering its bi-annual “Accounting Update.” Developed and delivered every spring and fall, the Accounting Update helps 3,000 KPMG LLP Audit partners and managers stay abreast of updated guidance and other regulatory activity.

Program Details

Historically, each Accounting Update has been delivered as a single full-length course covering multiple topics. By 2015, KPMG’s approach to delivering the Accounting Update already had evolved toward digital delivery. The 2015 spring Accounting Update was delivered as a Web-based self-study, and the 2015 fall Accounting Update was delivered as a live virtual classroom session (with playback).

Kirkpatrick Level 1 survey responses to both of these versions of the Update showed average participant satisfaction ratings of approximately 4.0 on a 5-point Likert scale—adequate, but below KPMG’s internal virtual classroom benchmark.

A deeper dive into evaluation results determined that while most participants found some of the Update topics valuable and impactful, few found all of the topics valuable and impactful. A topic that might be extremely relevant to a learner with clients in one industry might not be as relevant to a learner with clients in another.

In 2016, KPMG reconceived the single-course approach and instead delivered the content in two series of 30-plus short and engaging “micro-learning” modules ranging in length from 5 to 15 minutes each. Learners were given a menu of possible topics, and allowed to choose the topics most relevant to them.

Now, instead of spending time on a standard set of topics (each of which might or might not be relevant to their particular work), partners and managers were allowed to choose the topics of greatest value to them. The approach also expanded the range of topics available to learners—where a single course was limited to about 10 topics, the micro-learning series could address more than 30.

In addition, the micro-learning format allowed learners greater flexibility in choosing when and where to complete each topic, and greater ability to locate and relaunch a topic should they need a refresher during the year ahead.

Micro-learning modules now are created in parallel over a few months, actively promoted for a few months, and available on demand as long as the topic is relevant. After the active promotion of one Update series is complete, creation of the next one begins.


Learning Effectiveness scores rose: In fall 2016, 84 percent of post-course survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they learned new knowledge and skills through the micro-learning version of Accounting Update, up 5 percentage points from the fall 2015 virtual classroom version.

Time spent on less relevant content was reduced: For the more than 3,000 Audit partners and managers in the target audience:

  • In 2015, the single-course approach presented approximately 10 topics (of variable relevance to each individual learner) over a two-and-a-half-hour duration, resulting in a total time investment of more than 7,250 total hours.
  • In 2016, the micro-learning approach allowed individual learners to complete their choice of modules on topics of high relevance to them. On average, learners completed three modules, with an average length of 10 minutes, resulting in a total time investment of approximately 1,450 hours.
  • In this way, as the micro-learning approach improved the relevance and applicability of the Accounting Update, it also decreased the total time investment by 5,800 hours.

Based on this success, and KPMG’s commitment to digital learning as part of its strategy, the firm is expanding this model to other topics and audiences.


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