Chronic risks and long-term benefits are definitely not sexy. How many people will take cold tablets when they’re ill but won’t take vitamins when they’re well? How many people will go on a diet to lose weight rather than eat in moderation routinely? As we know, there is a multibillion-dollar diet industry that shows that people prefer to diet quickly rather than have a long term sensible eating plan. The same concept applies with compliance. How many companies will invest in brilliant multifaceted compliance solutions and prevention methods after a large investigation and telephone number fine compared to those who have not been on the receiving end of an enforcement notice?
Helping people to see their work lives through the same eyes as their home lives helps learners to relate to compliance messages. E.g. if our children ask if it’s ok to bribe their teacher to mark them an ‘A’ with the justification that ‘everyone is doing it’ we would probably want to have a word or two with their teacher. Applying the same concept at work (i.e. not bribing to receive the contract) then becomes a more ‘relatable’ conversation.
Personal compliance risks measured through ‘Microlives’
Connecting compliance at work to our own personal compliance (i.e. our health) is also something that people can relate to. So I was delighted to come across the work of leading biostatician, David Spiegelhalter, who developed the concept of ‘Microlives’. This concept makes chronic health risks comparable by showing how much life we loose on average when we’re exposed to certain activities or circumstances. Here’s how it works:
- Our adult life is calculated as 57 years, which is 1 million sets of 30-minute activities.
- Activities such as exercising, watching TV, eating certain foods and being overweight are assessed in terms of what it costs or gains you in microlives.
- Smoking 20 cigarettes a day, can cost 10 microlives a day or 7 years of life based on a continual adult habit. Whereas being 5 kg overweight can cost 1 microlife or 30 minutes of your life per day.
As with any kind of statistics, this is not a precise consequence of each cigarette smoked or TV program watched: it comes from accumulating the effects of a lifetime of behavior and averaging it over a whole population. However, it is not the accuracy of the information I am interested in, it is the fact that the activity can be measured and compared.
We normally look at compliance risks in terms of legal, financial, reputational and operational risks. But what if we looked at compliance risks in an entirely different way? How about if we monetized the loss or gain of each of our daily compliance activities or non-activities?
Read Part 2 of this article to see how I have done this.