To create a truly effective security awareness training program, your organization must also build a clear, engaging internal communication structure to match.
This process involves more than just sending out one or two mass emails to let employees know such a program exists. It’s about establishing a consistent drumbeat of content distribution that grows participation numbers, boosts subject matter awareness, and deepens the overall learning experience.
The benefits of leveraging a diverse set of communication tools are undeniable. According to EU data, organizations with effective change and communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers.
This is especially relevant in a world where distributed teams and remote work are quickly becoming the norm, particularly in the United States. For effective data protection, a security awareness training program must translate to the home office as well.
This blog post will outline the essential communication tool assets every organization should have, as well as cover all aspects of how those tools can improve your security awareness training programs.
What Are Communication Tools for Security Awareness Training?
In the context of security awareness training, communication tools are there to inform, engage, and excite your employees.
Communication can be in a physical format, like promotional posters or print newsletters, or a digital one, such as videos or infographics. Regardless of the format, communication must always deliver information to end users in a clear, concise, and fun manner.
What information should a communication asset for a security awareness training program convey? Consider these examples:
- Important announcements that apply to all program participants
- Explain the benefits of security for the organization and the individuals
- Reminders of milestone dates throughout a training program’s lifecycle (i.e. – the completion date for a given module)
- Recaps of previous courses and phishing simulation results, highlighting salient points
- Opportunities for further reading or learning on various topics
- Promotional messages to encourage higher participation
- Feedback requests for program participants and contributors
It’s also crucial that all tools used mesh well with your organization’s existing internal communication strategy and style. Your communication tools must regularly distribute key messages to all employees and, if your organization has an international presence, must also do so in multiple languages.
With the proper communication tools in place, your security awareness training program can reach more users, engage them effectively over a longer period, and positively impact behaviors directly related to data protection.
Essential Security Awareness Training Communication Assets
For your training program to blossom and empower your end users, your communication tools need to be a diverse collection of assets.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach that works for all organizations. What one user base responds well to may not work for another. This will also depend on your organization’s size, location, industry, and long-term goals.
To help you identify which communication tools are right for your organization, let’s take a closer look at some of the most essential kinds of assets:
To borrow from a popular saying, if your security awareness training program debuts but no one knows about it, does it make any meaningful impact? Promotional posters can be a great way to get the word out about your training program, topics that it will cover, and other vital information.
A security awareness training newsletter can serve multiple purposes. It can be a more detailed promotional tool like the posters, a rundown of key cyber security tips and tricks, a preview of new learning opportunities – or even a combination of all three. Just make sure you set specific goals to focus your newsletter’s intent.
Digital wallpapers, web banners, and infographics
A digital alternative to print media, wallpapers, web banners, and infographics are just a few examples of communication tools that cater to visual learners. The latter can be a very effective way to distill information security topics into bite-sized, easily consumable assets.
Supplemental Training Videos
To take visual learning to the next level, many organizations offer a collection of supplemental training videos that support concepts from a program’s learning modules. Microlearning and nanolearning videos are also great vehicles for just-in-time training for end users.
How Communication Tools Can Improve Your Training Program
Implementing the right communication tools can quickly improve your security awareness training program on multiple fronts. This is because they ensure that your organization’s training program will appeal to users on several different levels.
It’s not enough just to force employees in front of a screen or text and hope they’re absorbing the knowledge they need to keep confidential data safe. Clear, involving communication goes a long way to keeping those users interested and enthused with the task at hand.
Here are three ways that communication tools enhance security awareness training programs:
1. Increase employee participation
Every successful training initiative is predicated on a high level of user participation. This means that your communication tools must, first and foremost, engage employees and encourage them to participate.
To maximize your results in this area, use your communication assets to highlight the “why” in addition to the “what.” If the benefits of participating in a security awareness training program are on full display, your team will better understand what they stand to gain from the initiative.
2. Boost training program awareness
The more employees who know about the training – and how informative and fun the content is – the better your long-term results will be. Plain and simple. However, there are a couple of caveats to take note of when it comes to spreading program awareness.
First, this kind of communication should happen consistently across a program’s lifespan, not just once at or just after its debut. Second, awareness messaging must also give users a sense of the program’s mandates and how they will benefit the organization.
3. Deepen the overall learning experience
Communication tools are also terrific assets for delivering a deeper, richer learning experience to all participants. From further reading material to supporting videos, additional content can add dimensions to the material covered in your training course.
Remember that, to deepen that learning experience, the content you share must bring something new and valuable to the table, and not simply regurgitate points already made in previous learning modules.
Communication tools are an indispensable aspect of an effective security awareness training program. They help improve all training initiatives by boosting employee engagement, upping program awareness, and providing a more detailed learning experience.
With the right communication tools in tow, your organization can achieve a high-level of buy-in from all users. Once that is attained, your security awareness training program will transform from an average compliance enabler to an initiative that will have a lasting positive effect on user behavior, which in turn will strengthen how your organization protects its confidential data.
If your organization has a communications department, engage them early in the process to ensure your communications strategy follows internal standards.
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