The Rapid Elearning Blog

compliance training

In a recent survey, 68% of e-learning developers told us that they build compliance training. In fact, it’s the majority of what people build. Compliance training is a bit tricky because e-learning contains the word learning, but often compliance training doesn’t really have a real connection to learning. If we’re honest, a lot of it is a big information dump with little real connection to the learner’s day-to-day activities.

For example, you don’t hire a bunch of unethical people and then figure it’ll all work out after they complete their ethics training. Instead, you have ethical people and the training clarifies and reinforces the organization’s guiding principles. But it doesn’t really change behaviors much, unless your work the mob, maybe.

That doesn’t mean there’s not a real learning component to compliance training, it just means that it’s usually more about certification of understanding rather than changing behaviors.

Here are a couple of things to consider when building your next compliance training course.

What does the law say?

“We can’t build good courses because the law requires we do XYZ.”

That may be the case. However, often it’s not. I’ve worked on plenty of compliance training programs that were driven by the myth of legal requirements. I always challenge that statement. If it’s true, it’s true. But prove it.

If it’s not, then don’t use that misunderstanding to dictate how you build your courses.

Let your learners test out.

Since most compliance training is about certification and many of the people already know the content, why not let them prove it upfront?

Give them an option to take an assessment at the front end of the course. If they can prove they understand the content, then they’ve met the compliance certification objectives (outside of any special legal requirements). If they can’t prove it, they understand why they need to take the training.

Keep in mind that assessing their understanding doesn’t mean it has to be a bunch of boring multiple choice quiz questions. It could be a series of case studies or interactive scenarios.

Some employers don’t want people testing out. The argument is usually along the lines that even if they know the information, it’s a good thing to see it again. I’d start with the cost of training and how forcing people to take courses where they already know the information is not necessarily good stewardship of the organization’s resources. And then take it from there.

Compliance training isn’t always the most engaging content we work with; and it does waste a lot of time. Find out what you really have to do to be compliant. And then create the best learning experience you can.

What do you do to make your compliance training more engaging?


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4 responses to “Two Things to Consider If You Build Compliance Training”

July 30th, 2019

Hi Tom,

When comes the time to get compliance training, I usually suggest to my client to identify the most important parts of the subject. Then, we work those parts to become real situations where the learner have to say if it’s a fair/good situation or not and why. If the answer is wrong, than the learner is directed to the relevant training part.

Of course, the client always ask that all the content has to be seen. We usually suggest that the 100% content could be placed in the resource menu. In addition, we usually give the exact reference (and sometimes a screenshot) of the document.

July 30th, 2019

Thank you for the blogs. I find them very practical and useful. I agree with the blog.

My past experience of Compliance Training has typically been a bulk of content and a lengthy assessment at the end of the training.

As a seasoned Instructional Designer, I try to follow this approach; good to know versus need to know. In essence, what does the learner really need to know as it relates to the policy/law and safety of their job. Things that are good to know, can be a resource and made available online or in a resource document.

Convincing this strategy, can sometimes can be a challenge depending on the SME or the workplace.

August 1st, 2019

I have long been a believer that Compliance Training should never be boring, but the business question is, “Is it worth the effort to make it engaging?”
For example: A small company that has never had an issue with a work harassment lawsuit might be better served to do a 5 minute read and test PowerPoint/Storyline/Captivate, that fulfills the letter of the law. While a large company that has had multiple issues may find that putting the resources in to make sure people really understand what the new laws say to avoid the cost of additional lawsuits.
One of the most important things a designer can understand is what the actual goals of management are regarding specific compliance trainings. Often it is much more than just meet the legal requirement, but sometimes ….

August 3rd, 2019

Thanks for the super easy tips Tom. I’ve developed a lot of compliance training, and my tips to add include spending time with your sponsor/SME to get at the goals of the course, develop meaningful performance objectives and aim to fulfill them. For compliance it should usually be about training how to apply the policy or law in common situations people will face on the job.