By Jeffrey Frankel
The role of compliance training in today’s workplace has never been more important. For decades organizations across industries have been using compliance training to 1) educate employees on policies, procedures and relevant laws affecting the workplace, 2) meet their corporate and legal responsibilities to operate ethically and safely, and 3) avoid violations, fines and penalties.
While these goals remain, compliance training is evolving to meet the needs and demands of a complex business environment and diverse, tech-savvy workforce. A 2017 compliance training study by the Brandon Hall Group, a research and analyst firm, found that only 35% of companies consider their compliance training efforts to be effective. Only 61% said their compliance efforts were “somewhat effective.”
By almost any measure, that’s not good enough. An effective compliance training program should give organizations confidence that their employees are engaged and motivated to recognize and avoid situations that are unethical or illegal, and know how to respond appropriately when situations do arise.
Whether you are training your employees online, in an instructor-led, classroom setting or through a blended learning approach, compliance training should be relevant, engaging and effective in promoting positive change in employees’ attitudes, behaviors and decision making.
Wondering if it’s time to update your compliance training program and give it a creative reset? Here are six signs to help you decide.
1. Your training content and format is boring and static.
One of the reasons compliance training has earned its boring reputation is that the content and format hasn’t kept pace with the changing needs of a workforce that often prefers to consumer information digitally. Courses have tended to be text-heavy, with no appealing, user-friendly design elements, requiring employees to click through multiple screens of legalese. As a result, many employees think of compliance training as a necessary evil to avoid or at least postpone until they have an extra hour or two to spare. That’s no way to engage and keep employees’ attention focused on something as important as creating a strong culture of ethics and compliance.
Enter microlearning and interactive videos — two tech trends that are making compliance training more effective through bite-sized learning, real-life scenarios and immersive experiences that encourage deeper interaction with course content. The idea of microlearning is not to overwhelm employees with too much information at one time. In general, learners can absorb and retain information easier when it’s presented in small nuggets and delivered in a high-quality video format.
Interactive videos are used in online training to immerse learners in realistic work situations that prompt them to take action, rather than passively click through screens. For example, an interactive video can dramatize the importance of reporting incidents of harassment through a scenario that shows two employees watching a colleague being harassed and then discussing what they should do about it. This is an effective technique for creating emotional connections with the training content, enabling employees to see and experience the consequences of right and wrong decisions through the characters.
2. Your training doesn’t reflect your organization or industry.
Compliance training cannot be effective if the content is too generic. In a 2016 report issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace, the agency said:
Effective compliance trainings are those that are tailored to the specific realities of different workplaces. Using examples and scenarios that realistically involve situations from the specific worksite, organization, and/or industry makes the compliance training work much better than if the examples are foreign to the workforce.”
With new developments in eLearning software, your compliance training provider should be able to customize training courses to fit your specific business and industry, without busting your budget. By choosing graphics, images and video content, as well as topics, terminology and tone that reflect your company’s unique needs and culture, you can provide an overall better experience for your employees. Training can also be tailored for different regions and locations, and, for global companies, it should take into account language and cultural differences.
3. Your training is out of date.
If employees are not up to date on the latest rules and regulations in your workplace and industry and changes in local, state and federal laws, your organization faces the risk of violations that can damage your reputation and bottom line.
By regularly reviewing your training program you can ensure it complies with new training requirements and clearly explains what the new or revised laws mean to your employees, managers and others and how it may impact your workplace. It’s important that everyone is aware of changes, so plan to schedule regular, periodic training in which all employees participate, including senior management.
4. Your training isn’t mobile.
Part of managing a mobile workforce is leveraging mobile-based compliance training, which allows learners to decide when to fit training into their schedules and what device to use. The use of mobile technology is increasing as more organizations realize the benefits of letting employees access training courses anytime, anywhere on their smartphone, tablet or laptop.
With mobile-based training, your employees can make good use of down time when they are traveling, in between appointments or outside normal business hours when there are typically fewer interruptions. And if interruptions do occur, mobile training makes it easy for employees to begin a course on one device and complete it on another, without the hassle of stopping and starting over. Mobile-based learning is also ideal for the growing number of remote workers, who rely on their mobile devices to conduct business and participate in compliance training and other types of eLearning.
For HR and administrators, mobile technology is also replacing the old, time-consuming method of using spreadsheets and emails to assign compliance training courses and track progress and completion rates. Today’s learning management systems (LMS) make it easy and convenient to deploy and monitor training throughout your organization and schedule automatic notifications and updates from a central platform.
5. Your training doesn’t measure engagement.
Compliance training can and should offer some fun ways to drive engagement and challenge employees on how well they understand the different topics covered in a course. Interjecting quizzes, assessments and other elements of game playing at strategic points throughout the training can make the experience more enjoyable, which can help boost engagement and retention. Many organizations are also using leaderboards and point systems to track and view employee performance and measure engagement.
However, having games for games sake or just to make the training less boring is not a good strategy. Quizzes, timed puzzles and assessments should be designed to reinforce the learning objectives, while appealing to employees’ sense of fun, friendly competition and accomplishment.
6. Your training doesn’t collect employee feedback.
Employee surveys and polls built directly into the course are another way to gauge the effectiveness of your compliance training. Asking employees for their honest feedback on their experience can be a valuable source of information when it’s time to review and update the training. You can even incentivize employees to complete a post-training survey with a badge or other reward.
Engage, Educate, Influence
Now is an opportune time to review your compliance training program and decide if it needs updating and an overall refresh. New eLearning technologies and strategies are enabling organizations to deliver meaningful training experiences that engage, educate and influence employees. With the support of senior management, compliance training can be a valuable part of a holistic approach to maintaining an ethical culture, promoting a respectful, inclusive workplace and motivating employees to do the right thing — inside and outside the workplace.