Encourage Employees to Comply with Compliance Training

Written by Gauri Reyes | Feb 23, 2015 9:39:23 PM

Compliance training—or training that helps employees understand how to comply with the legal, ethical and policy-related aspects of doing business—is often mandated by an agency external to the organization. In other words, compliance with the request to have employees complete compliance training is often non-negotiable.

But when the word “compliance” conjures up so many negative associations—either with past compliance training or just because of the association with forcing someone to do something—how do you make employees want to comply with compliance training?

Consider the following ideas to make compliance training an experience that results in willful compliance.

You Don’t Always Know Everything You Think You Know

If training can show learners that they might not know everything they think they know, learners will sit up and take notice.

Simple example: Ever wonder how many licensed automobile drivers actually understand the rules of how to yield at a four-way stop? Clearly, the rules are not clear to everyone, as the scenario in this video is ridiculously common. After double-checking my own understanding against a video on the driving rules, I found (to my surprise) that my understanding was not 100% perfect after all these years or driving. What about you?

So, what starts out for many people as, “I have to waste my time taking this too-basic, common sense training,” becomes, “Thank goodness I took this training (or refreshed my memory) before I made an avoidable mistake.” Powerful—and critical—stuff.

Tie Training Scenarios to the Real World

When possible, provide learners with realistic scenarios with real-world dilemmas (a type of gamification). Present scenarios that might tempt people to cross a line so that they can learn and explore the consequences virtually rather than in real life. Give people a reason to discuss these scenarios in a safe environment.

In their article “How to Make Company Training Rock”, Dan Heath and Chip Heath discuss how “one team transformed a [compliance] training binder into Must-See TV.” By acknowledging that compliance issues are laden with real-world drama, the training team at one company hired a filmmaker to create a series of 10 short episodes dealing “with touchy areas such as bosses hitting on subordinates, teams misrepresenting their expertise, and managers trying to pass along inappropriate expenses to the client. In other words, comedy gold.”

Though a new episode was released each Monday, employees started tracking down episodes on the company's staging server in advance. Thousands of employees watched the training videos pre-release. The series also amped up internal conversations about compliance. The episodes broke down conversation barriers and gave employees “permission” to talk about tough topics without shame. In other words, training gold. 

Give people a choice

Give people choices, and some of the pressure—and reluctance—is vented off.

For example, if using online training for compliance training programs, providing employees with desktop and mobile learning options lets employees choose when and where to learn. On the other hand, give learners as flexible a completion time frame as possible without leaving anything open-ended.

Looking at “choice” from a different angle, if you want 100% compliance (or 100% of your employees to complete the compliance training with a passing score), your training must be usable for all employees. If anyone is unable to use your training as designed, you simply cannot achieve 100% compliance. Some employees may need 508c-compliant training, or may need to read content in a different language, as examples.

Prove Compliance with Stats


And here’s where the 
benefit of using online training technology for compliance training really pays off, because what’s the point of adhering to compliance requirements if you can’t prove that your workforce is “in compliance”?

From a case study on the Burlington Fire Department’s use of Mindflash, in the year that the department “has been using Mindflash, [Bill, the Training Supervisor] has created about 40 courses. The most recent course had 160 trainees enrolled. At any given moment, Bill can instantly see who has completed a course, who is currently taking it, and who hasn’t started. Further, he can filter it all by group, platoon, or station. Although the minimum pass rate is 70 per cent on the quizzes, almost all trainees get 100 percent. And for the first time in Burlington Fire history, he can say they’ve had 100 percent compliance–and he can prove it with course-by-course reports […].”

Benefits of using online training systems for compliance training include the ability to:

Compliance Doesn’t Need to Mean “Not Fun”

Compliance training doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence. Make the mandatory training easy and fun to complete, creatively tap into the inherent drama that comes with compliance issues, make sure that people always learn something new, avoid scandals caused by preventable employee behavior—and increase the willingness to comply with compliance training requirements.

What techniques do you use to ensure and increase compliance with compliance training?

Gauri Reyes is a talent developer and learning leader with extensive experience in roles ranging from software management to managing the learning function in organizations. She is Principal Learning Strategist and CEO at Triple Point Advisors and Founder of the YOUth LEAD program. Follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.