Compliance training. Don’t those two words just fill you with an excited fervour? “Can’t wait to get stuck into some good compliance training. No way that can be boring.” Said no employee, ever.

It’s understandable – but it’s also actually a bit of a problem. You see, compliance training is really important. Take for example Health & Safety legislation. Compliance failure here can result in hefty fines, and in some cases, even prison. That’s right – prison. Health & Safety botches committed by staff, that you might not even have known about, could see you curled up on a stainless-steel bunkbed in a tiny concrete room for up to a year. And do you know what you’ll probably find yourself thinking? “I wish I’d taken compliance training more seriously.”

  1. Enough prison talk. Hopefully your ears are sufficiently pricked and you’re maybe re-thinking the rueful process of putting together another box-ticking exercise, and hoping for the best. What we hope to illustrate in this blog-post, is that not only can compliance training be made relevant and thought-provoking, it can also be made fun as well.


It’s all about the eLearning

eLearning is a tool that has been shown to improve participants’ ability to learn and retain information, compared with traditional methods, by a factor of five. It’s one of the many reasons that since 2000, the industry has grown 900%. What eLearning allows is for training to be completed at a pace that suits individual users, and at a time that’s convenient for them. Longer courses can be paused at any time, allowing time for discussion and reflection, or to just be re-visited at another time. Completed courses can also be saved for users to retrieve at any time if there’s areas they feel they need to reassess.

Putting employees in the picture

Great eLearning needs to immerse employees in their industry, and nothing does that better than constructing the kind of scenarios they are likely to find themselves in. Generic, one-size-fits-all content is a rapid turn-off. An eLearning platform does require some upfront investment so you want to get the most bang for your buck. It’s worth spending that little bit more for a program that is tailored to your industry. Scenarios built to resonate will educate.

Involve the participants

Learning is a messy process, especially when you consider that everyone learns differently. Some of us are visual learners, some auditory, some kinetic, and others – various combinations of the three. Countless studies have been done to determine the best ways of learning and though each one seeks to debunk the other, there are a handful of factors that broadly they agree on. Reading alone as a method of learning is generally agreed to allow for a retention of around 10% of all information consumed. This figure, which again there is considerable consensus on, jumps up to nearer 90% when learning is instead experiential and interactive. Edgar Dale’s Cone of Experience provides a useful visual demonstrating this. Many eLearning programs, though slick and colourful, essentially require the participant to merely read information on each page. Far more effective are those programs that involve the participant by requiring them to analyse situations and scenarios, and then answer questions. This doesn’t need to be done on each page but a good balance would be to do this after every three or four, and thus maintain optimum engagement and involvement.

Use real-life case studies

The problem with a whole program being hypothetical is that participants can become sceptical as to the point of the training, after all, if none of these things ever happen, what’s the point in learning about them? This potential for scepticism can be mitigated by including case studies of real-life events. Such studies demonstrate the real-world repercussions when compliance procedures are not followed, and provide relevant evidence of the fines and punishments issued by regulators. This isn’t about scare-mongering, but employees do need to know how a lack of important compliance knowledge puts themselves and the company at risk.

Keep learning objectives clear and user-focused

In recent years, the trend in education has been to share learning objectives and outcomes with pupils before each lesson. It’s a tactic that has been shown to be effective, and because the way we learn as adults differs little to how we learn as children, it’s a tactic worth adopting. Participants will more readily engage with training when they are fully informed as to how it will benefit and enrich them. Avoid broad-stroke objectives such as ‘at the end of this course you understand how logistics compliance rules impact our company’. Not only is this kind of objective intimidating in its breadth, it’s also quite boring. Instead, pick out specifics and build them into something more digestible.

Challenge Participants

eLearning programs, especially if the quick aggregation and sharing of results is demanded, only really lend themselves to multiple choice style questions. However, these can still be constructed to challenge the participant. Too often programs feature a great array of images, information and user experience but then measure learning with questions such as;

  1. What fires are CO2 gas extinguishers designed for?

a.) Fires that break out in Helsinki only

b.) Bernie Ecclestone

c.) Flammable liquids and electrical fires

d.) None of these

When the answers are so obvious, participant engagement plummets and the exercise becomes about just getting to the end, participants knowing that they’ll most likely pass without even reading the text. Ensuring distractor answers are plausible, that correct answers are randomly placed, that answers are a similar word length, and avoiding ‘none of these’ as an option, all make for a more challenging and rigorous experience.

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