How to Make Compliance Training Engaging and Effective

While engagement has always been an important element for any learning experience, it is usually lacking when it comes to compliance training.

Why is that? There could be several factors. For one, the content needing to be delivered in compliance training is often complex and rigid, and so instructional designers place compliance training in its own corner, for fear that certain design elements might distract or reduce the severity of the content.

However, the seriousness of compliance training does not mean that it does not have to be engaging. Indeed, learners can undergo compliance training with a renewed interest, returning to their jobs with a fresh focus and perspective. Let’s have a look at a few ways learning leaders can make compliance training engaging and effective.

Building effective compliance training requires involving subject matter experts in the course design process.
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Why is compliance training so important?

Compliance training is often mandated legally by external government agencies that regulate the company’s business practices. Many times, the company must demonstrate that itself and a particular set of employees have successfully undergone compliance training in order to continue operations.

Compliance training can also be a “nice to have” because of industry groups of which the company is a member, to ensure that operations and customer interactions meet particular standards, though there is no legal requirement to do so.

Clearly, compliance training is critical, to ensure that employees are carrying out their work legally and ethically.

While some might think that compliance training serves to weed out fraud at a company, the training can also step in when there are grey areas and employees are truly confused as to whether certain behaviors are compliant. Without this training, employees would be left to themselves to decide what course of action to take, which injects risk into the organization.


Why unengaging compliance training is dangerous

Simply put, boring is risky. If employees zone out, they will not understand or absorb the content and could act non-compliantly, placing the organization and even its customers at risk.

Because companies feel that compliance training is something they are forced to do, employees feel that compliance training is something that they are forced to do as well. As such, employees—including instructional designers tasked with building these compliance courses—feel that it’s a chore and a burden, with a lack of motivation to participate actively.

“A tick-box approach that checks compliance only superficially creates the impression that this is something to be endured, overcome, and then disregarded,” notes eLearning Industry.

Indeed, compliance training that is engaging reduces organizational risk.

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5 ways to make your compliance training engaging

Let’s have a look at a few ways to make your compliance training more interesting and unique for your learners.

1. Multimedia

Graphics, animations, and video go a long way to holding learners’ interest, but this can be a challenge when building compliance training. Indeed, you will need to be careful about your training has too many multimedia elements and is actually too engaging. (Is that even possible?)

If the training seems too overproduced, perhaps with frivolous animations or watered-down content, the compliance training will have the opposite effect: it might be entertaining, but learners will not take it seriously. Balance is key.

2. External speakers

This is an often-overlooked source for training content. While the regulatory body or industry association may providing the source content on which to build the course, go deeper: find a speaker or facilitator who can step in and provide audio or video content for your learners.

Sometimes an external voice, especially from an individual with deep subject matter expertise and experience in delivering engaging content to companies such as yours, can provide that missing link to hold learners’ attention.

3. Scenarios, stories, and examples

While compliance is often seen as abstract or legal, the training for it needs to be both believable and relevant. In high school, we needed to memorize abstract theories and then regurgitate them for an exam. Providing the same experience for employees will not make them do their jobs better.

By providing scenarios and stories that are realistic and relevant, and that mimic the situations in which employees are likely to find themselves, employees will be able to apply the learning to similar, real-life situations.

4. Personalization

While scenarios and stories can help by providing examples of how to act in certain circumstances, go even further: develop different versions of compliance training tied to job roles or seniority.

Targeting information to people who do specific jobs increases relevance and helps learners understand how regulations apply to their work, increasing engagement.

5. Learning in the moment of need

Not only are the day-long, in-person trainings a thing of the past, but so are eLearning trainings that last for hours on end. Instead, learning needs to be made available when employees need it most.

This is primarily driven for two reasons. One is time: employees simply do not have enough time for training, whether for compliance or otherwise. According to Training magazine’s 2020 Training Industry report, companies provide their employees on average with 55.4 hours of training per year. While this is an increase over the previous year, it still only represents a little over one hour per week for training.

The other reason is that employees want to learn at the moment they need to know something to do their jobs better. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report, 49 percent of employees prefer to learn at the moment of need. As such, compliance training could be delivered in this needs-based manner, especially when an employee might be faced with a dilemma that only compliance could address.

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How to Make Compliance Training Engaging and Effective