Compliance training can be a tricky business. Whilst its importance as a risk mitigation tool and driver of behavioural change isn't called into question too often these days, its effectiveness on the other hand - and how well staff are engaging with compliance training - continues to be something of a question mark for many organisations.
This makes sense; after all, most employees don't live and breathe compliance (although we do here at DeltaNet!). Indeed, compliance training is something employees must complete in addition to and instead of their job. Therefore, it can - if compliance managers aren't careful - be viewed as something of an unwelcome interruption, even a burden to some.
Of course, this is particularly true at organisations where compliance training is treated as such! These are the places where the same dull, legislatively focused learning-content or policy document is rolled out annually with no regard as to whether the employee has read and understood it many times before (or, indeed, on which topics they might actually need a bit of refresher training and clarification).
Now, we're not suggesting this alters the critical importance of compliance training whatsoever, but it's not really fair to expect this sort of training to be engaging, is it? And where there's no engagement there can be no retention and, therefore, the training is indeed less effective.
Changing perspectives of compliance training
The truth is, compliance training is about so much more than legislation and policies.
At its core, it's about empowering your employees and equipping them with the right skills to handle the requirements of regulation as they affect their daily work tasks.
In doing so, compliance training helps members of staff to flourish and be productive at work because it helps clarify their responsibilities and the boundaries surrounding these.
As well as reducing liability and risks for everyone in the company, then, compliance training is a gateway allowing employees to get on with work unsupervised which, in turn, builds trust and drives productivity.
So, how can organisations ensure that their compliance training is effective? That it isn't too legislatively focused, but relevant, engaging, and empowering instead?
We've got 8 top tips to help with that!
Maximise your compliance training
1. Make use of microlearning
Microlearning is a powerful training technique in the world of eLearning, and it can be leveraged in all sorts of ways to make compliance training more relevant, less cumbersome, and much timelier.
Microlearning is a way of condensing information and key points into short, specific 'bursts' of knowledge that are usually only a few minutes in length. Its compact and highly-relevant nature means that learners are less likely to suffer from learning fatigue and much more likely to slot a slice of refresher training in-between tasks or 'just in time', when the knowledge gap appears in the flow of work.
More than this, microlearning is modular as well as scalable. This means it's easy to update or replace the content of microlearning courses regularly and that different microlearning courses can be pieced together or swapped out to make longer, more personalised learning interventions that address individual skills gaps.
2. Try adaptive learning paths
Adaptive learning (sometimes called adaptive teaching, adaptive instruction, or intelligent tutoring) is an educational method which uses artificial intelligence to present users with individually customised learning programs.
It works by gathering data before, during, and after the learning process and using this information intelligently to create optimised learning paths for each user.
As the user continues to complete more compliance training and take more assessments, then, an adaptive platform is able to identify and feed them content of particular relevance (based off previous performances, learning preferences, engagement times, and so on).
In other words, adaptive learning platforms can automatically and intelligently determine which learning content, activities, and techniques will benefit the learner most and provide the best learning results.
Whilst it still bridges important knowledge gaps when it comes to compliance, adaptive learning doesn't devalue employee time by forcing them to complete unnecessary training. Naturally, this has the benefit of increased engagement levels and higher morale.
3. Incorporate gamification
Gamification exploded onto the eLearning scene years ago, but is still a hot trend when it comes to increasing engagement, motivation, and retention levels with learners.
Used inside compliance training programs, gamification offers a strategic, integrated approach that makes learning more fun. Elements of game-design (e.g. point scoring, competition, themes, rewards, and so on) are appealing to users who might not relish the idea of learning about regulation but could enjoy the concept of 'leveling up' instead.
The key is to make learners feel like they're moving vertically through 'achievements' rather than horizontally pawing through the same old exercise. With gamification, there's an 'end goal', something constructive to strive towards in a relaxed, non-threatening environment.
4. Involve top management
The 'tone from the top' is a phrase used to define the commitment of an organisation's leadership team, in this case, when it comes to compliance training.
Easily underestimated, the tone at the top can make or break a company's cultural environment and corporate values, so it's important that leaders do more than communicate the rules to be obeyed when it comes to compliance matters.
Indeed, senior management should be seen to take their training and the subsequent knowledge acquired seriously and to model consistently good behaviour themselves.
Remember, your leadership team are the ones who set the cultural tone by sharing their vision, reacting quickly (and fairly) to non-compliance, and by celebrating when employees act in a compliant manner.
5. View compliance as ongoing
It's easy to view compliance – and the associated necessary training – as a destination, just a box to be ticked and forgotten about. However, compliance is an ongoing journey. It will never be 'complete'.
It's helpful instead to think of compliance as a spectrum of maturity involving people, processes, and other tools/technology. Indeed, depending on factors such as the size or age of the organisation, your company's position on the compliance maturity spectrum will adjust will over time, as will the legislation and regulations that lay the groundwork for what compliance means.
For instance, it's not unusual for start-ups and SMEs to treat compliance as something of a legal obligation (and training as the way this requirement is met). Larger, more established organisations, on the other hand, may have been working on their compliance culture for several years, approaching compliance as it plays a positive role in driving business growth and administering multi-level compliance training that is specifically aimed at the roles of the learners involved as well as the risk profile of the organisation.
6. Mix it up
Employing educational diversity in the form of different learning styles and design techniques can help accommodate diverse learning preferences and, thus, ramp up engagement for your compliance training program.
It helps to incorporate multimedia into your compliance training program; think videos, animations, infographics, interactivity and audio cues – all of which help to avoid monotony and add variety into your learning interventions.
Furthermore, utilising immersive eLearning is a great way to bring compliance modules to life and contextualise them by placing individuals into virtual, interactive learning environments that simulate real work-place scenarios. Immersive eLearning is a safe, inexpensive way for users to learn from their mistakes and for organisations to check their employee's understanding of certain compliance measures.
Another option is scenario-led learning (also known as problem-based learning), which combines online training with story-telling techniques, independent-thought, and analysis to encourage learners to use information and apply it to their decision-making process.
7. Utilise surveys and polls
Online surveys, questionnaires, and polls can provide an opportunity for your learners to share their impressions and opinions and voice any concerns about their training. These are all valuable insights into the way your compliance program has been received over the years and a great way to uncover areas in need of improvement.
Indeed, these answers can be very useful when it comes to getting an idea of why people continue to take risky actions when it comes to matters of compliance (say, using overly-simple passwords or ignoring health and safety procedures) despite having had training against this.
Measuring employee impressions in this manner is useful information to have, particularly before you embark on a new compliance training program, as it can be used to measure behavioural change and attitudes along the way.
Insights gathered over time, such as how employees react when observing non-compliance, how they view the 'tone from the top', as well as whether they feel compliance is communicated effectively and how engaging their training is, can prove invaluable when it comes to the nitty gritty of your training's efficacy.
8. Measure the effectiveness
With so much compliance training available on the market and legislation being constantly updated, it's important to regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of your current corporate learning to ensure that it's hitting the mark.
One way of doing this is to look into the data your courses provide (and with xAPI and advanced reporting now available, there's more insight available than ever). Use this data to observe how learners are answering questions and what the success and failure rates for each course look like. This data will tell us plenty about whether the questions asked in each course are effective, whether the learning that leads up to the questions is effective, and how well learners are performing in the final assessments at the end of each course.
There are also tools available on the market, for example, phishing simulators, that can be utilised to test the effectiveness of specific training (in this case, cyber-security) and used to deploy further training where it's needed most.
Ultimately, the key piece of information to observe when testing the effectiveness of compliance training is employee behaviour. Take a look at what your objectives were when you first began the training journey and weigh-up whether you're seeing the sorts of behaviours you expected to see upon its completion. For example, are people using stronger passwords after having received information security training? Are people starting to speak up more after receiving whistleblowing training?
If the answer is yes, your training has been effective.
Compliance training has huge benefits for organisations, from managing regulatory risk, to improving performance, and nurturing trust. We hope this article has helped our readers understand how to boost their compliance training program and get the best value from their training solution. However, if there's anything we can help you with, please do get in touch via email or on 01509 611019. We're a friendly bunch and would be more than happy to help.