Compliance Training – Just Do It Already

Best Practices for Doing Compliance Training Right

I know what you’re thinking, “Not another blog about compliance. What more is there to say? Compliance training must be done, so just do it!”

But pause a minute… this idea of “just do it” is why compliance training often ends up being so unpalatable. Because it typically must be created — or recreated — and taken on a yearly basis, compliance training may be given short shrift when it comes to rigorous and thoughtful design and development. This may then cause  an attitude of “I’m just gonna get through it” on the part of employees.

Does it have to be this way? How much more time and effort would it take to treat compliance training like an exciting new project? And what might the result be? As Innovative Learning Group has shared before, compliance training should be more than simply check-the-box.

Here are some best practices to shift from “just do it” to “do it right.”

Remember Why

Compliance training is a requirement for very important, possibly even lifesaving, reasons. Don’t forget how it all started. Whether to counteract harassment and bias, provide a safer working environment, or ensure quality products, compliance training exists to meet a need. To be effective, training must not only fulfill regulatory and legal requirements, but also communicate valuable, top-of-mind information to employees.

Let the “why” be your guiding focus. Even if employees have heard the same message for years, share again in the training what went wrong in the past that resulted in the need for compliance. Make the urgency of remaining compliant real.

Don’t Skip Analysis

Ask the right questions as you would for any training. Who is the audience? What do they already know? What more do they need to know or do? Answers to these questions are often assumed for compliance training since it’s repeated year after year and topics are often dictated by regulations. But by asking these questions first, you may realize that there should be a shift in focus; for example, perhaps you’ve seen a trend in the types of harassment complaints or an uptick in a specific online security issue or increased human error. You may also discover that different groups of employees (new hires vs. existing employees, for example) need different types of training.

Design and Develop to the Need

Let go of the idea that compliance training can be treated differently because everyone has to take it. Be as creative as you would for any other training within time and budget. Meet the objectives using the best learning strategies to communicate the information and engage employees.

Consider refresher training for existing employees rather than having them take the same training as new hires. Give them just what they need to perform successfully in their roles. If training or sections of training are repeated from the past, acknowledge this and explain why. Providing a rationale for the repetition can ease the often-negative perception of compliance training as check-the-box.

If permitted, use pre-tests to allow employees who pass to get credit for the training instead of having to take the training. Ensure pre-test questions adequately assess that employees can meet training objectives to comply with any regulatory requirements.

Confirm Training Assignments

While some compliance training is required by all employees, some is job-specific. A best practice is to confirm that each employee’s training plan is up-to-date based on their role. Since compliance training requirements typically roll over from year to year, an employee who has shifted from a warehouse role to an office role, for example, may still be assigned unnecessary safety compliance training related to the warehouse. Ensuring assigned compliance training is relevant to employees reduces unnecessary training, which allows employees to better comprehend and assimilate the training they need to succeed in their jobs.

Don’t Be Shy

If a compliance training program or course has been updated and streamlined to better address current issues, deliver it in a different way and don’t be shy about communicating this change. Roll it out with a bit of fanfare. Just because it’s compliance training doesn’t mean it can’t be treated like any other exciting program or course.

These practices can help shift the perception of compliance training from something that you just have to do — whether you are the instructional designer creating the training or employees taking it — to something that is worthwhile, important, and the right thing to do.

Denise Renton is a freelance instructional designer and performance consultant. She has more  than 30 years’ experience in the training and performance improvement industry. Denise was on staff at Innovative Learning Group from 2012 to 2021.

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