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5 tips to bring compliance training to life

Ask employees what they enjoy about professional development and you’ll repeatedly hear: “It helps to build my expertise”, or “it prepares me for future roles”. Perhaps someone honest might pipe ...

5 tips to bring compliance training to life

Ask employees what they enjoy about professional development and you’ll repeatedly hear: “It helps to build my expertise”, or “it prepares me for future roles”. Perhaps someone honest might pipe in with “it keeps me from getting bored”. It’s unlikely you’ll hear, “it helps me stay on top of the many compliance issues facing my profession”.

Sadly, no one gets excited by the c-word. Compliance training is a necessary evil and rules and regulations are a critical part of business – they help to keep your employees and company out of trouble.

However, it’s a struggle to transform something mandatory into something people actually want to do. It’s a chasm that’s tough to bridge. After all, framing anything as an obligation is usually not the best way to fire enthusiasm. Further hampering efforts is the fact that some adult learners associate eLearning – today the main method of compliance training delivery – as a “click and read” slog.

Traditional eLearning was indeed a slog. It was passive with little to no learner interaction – a monotonous experience that disregarded the more investigative or interactive Q&A approaches many learners would have enjoyed at school. As a result, when these employees today hear they “must participate” in mandatory training, they die a little inside.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll’s Course Library, for example, provides access to over 400 pre-built eLearning courses covering everything from soft skills to compliance-related issues. Courses are kept up-to-date with Legislative changes to ensure continued compliance and are built by ELMO’s team of instructional designers with industry best-practice approaches to eLearning. The resulting courses are both educational and entertaining – the perfect mix for high impact learning.

Compliance-related eLearning can be engaging, but the focus needs to shift from purely a technical check-the-boxes viewpoint towards one that values the learner’s perspective. With this mentality, creative instructional designers can take what is often raw, dry material packed full of legalese, and spin it into something worth reading or watching.

Looking to introduce elements of eLearning into your compliance training? Either partner with an experienced content provider like ELMO, or follow these tips to ensure it’s not coma-inducing.

  1. Know your audience

Would a kindergarten teacher excel if they were deposited unprepared in front of a group of first-year finance degree students? Of course not. Preparation is key. Knowing what makes your learners tick will open the gateway in terms of how, when and where learning should occur, what their key concerns are, and what they want from the experience.

You might consider using surveys or questionnaires to find out more information about the learners and the business itself. Alternatively, you could conduct a more detailed needs analysis. This requires understanding what the end goal(s) for learners might be. If it’s compliance training, they may simply need to know the information as part of continuing professional development (CPD), or to keep ahead of changing laws and regulations. Ultimately, you’ll want to uncover what’s needed to make this course worth their time and effort.

Understanding what pre-existing knowledge, experience, and skills they have will help produce content that builds on what they already know, while still being easy to grasp for those who are starting from a lower base. Those insights should ideally extend to how they like to learn. Will it be in the classroom or online, or a hybrid of both? Are they comfortable with mobile learning? What support will they need and receive?

  1. Make it relevant and applicable

One challenging aspect of compliance training is that sometimes employees don’t understand how or why it’s relevant to them. So, paint the picture. If you understand where your learners come from (step 1), it should be easier to join the dots between the compliance issue (say it’s a work health & safety issue) and what it means to their job (e.g. what are the possible ramifications if a colleague shows up to work “under the influence”?)

Always try to create content that resonates with your learners. ELMO has previously written about the critical role that learning transfer plays in linking theory to practice – now is the time to put this into play. An insider trading course for -listed company employees, for example, should include examples, exercises, and case studies that can be applied to the day-to-day jobs of course participants. Use titles, keywords and acronyms that actually mean something for this group, and ensure you use real-life scenarios wherever possible to illustrate key points.

  1. Bite-sized is best

Since the dawn of eLearning, a consistent piece of feedback is that employees find it boring; they abandon it or click through quickly to get to the end. Instructional designers have responded with microlearning, an educational approach that offers bite-sized learning units with just the necessary amount of information to help learners achieve a goal. In 1999, research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology revealed that a distributed or “bite-sized” approach to learning can increase transfer from classroom to desk by 17%. And because bite-sized courses are more focused, employees don’t have to clutter their memories with irrelevant information, making retention easier. Omit the history, the background information, and the theories. In the case of compliance, it’s all about the “must know” essentials and the key take-aways that apply on the job.

  1. Get interactive

We’re social creatures, hence the popularity of online eLearning platforms for learning delivery, which open up endless possibilities for social interaction. Instead of being talked at for an hour or having to wade through pages of text, try breaking up your content with interactive elements such as quizzes, puzzles, “what would you do?” exercises, and other features that require active participation. When handled well, the serious nature of compliance is not lost through these “lighter” interactions; instead messages can be reinforced, and engagement can be lifted.

  1. Reward their effort

Never underestimate the power of positive conditioning. If you want to engage your employees with compliance training, allocate points for completion or for hitting targets on the way through. At the end you can reward them with something more meaningful such as a gift card – just ensure your reward process is transparent. Remember, human beings are competitive – this is one way to spark that competitive spirit.


Click here for further information on ELMO Cloud HR & Payroll’s Course Library with over 400 courses on offer to elevate compliance and better engage your employees with a range of learning options. Alternatively, contact us and one of our solutions consultants can discuss your requirements with you further.