Compliance Training 101: Making the Mandatory Interesting
According to a Brandon Hall Study, 77% of organizations face an external compliance audit at least annually. Only 48% believe they are fully prepared for a compliance audit.
Do you find corporate compliance training to be a real pain in the neck? From the employer’s side, it might seem like a distraction from the main, profitable aspects of running a business, as well as an excess cost. And from the employee’s side, it might just seem like extra work, a distraction from their main tasks, and a pointless formality. But this line of thinking — on both sides — is shortsighted.
In this article, we’re going to discuss what compliance training is, why it matters, and how to make it more effective. If you are familiar with compliance training and want to learn how to automate this process, click here to skip to that section.
What Is Compliance Training?
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, compliance is defined as “the act or process of complying with a desire, demand, proposal, or regimen”. Put otherwise; it is “conformity in fulfilling official requirements”. Therefore, compliance training is a formal program that educates your employees on the policies, procedures, and actions required to prevent both problems in the workplace and violations of the law. These policies and procedures are often job or industry-specific. However, in many cases, they are also government-mandated and apply across industries or the corporate world at large.
Why Does Compliance Training Matter?
Organizations have a social responsibility to their employees and the general public. From ensuring a safe workplace that’s free of bullying and harassment to protecting consumer data and privacy, your company is always at risk of ruining its reputation, legal action, and the worst-case scenario – getting shut down. In other words, compliance training is core to your organization’s risk management system.
However, compliance isn’t just about minimizing risk. It’s important for many reasons, including:
- Creating a safer workplace
- Increasing productivity
- Reducing absenteeism (e.g., due to injury, mental health issues, etc.)
- Securing insurance for your organization
- Protecting your business’ reputation
- Minimizing the risk of legal action
All these benefits aside, compliance training shows your employees that you not only respect their dignity but that you’re a reputable business that should be taken seriously.
Compliance Training Programs
No matter what business you have, compliance training should be high on the list of your priorities. The variety of courses is huge. The industry, activities, and location all influence what employees should be compliant in and what kind of training you need to deliver. Here are some examples of courses covering government-mandated and industry-specific compliance policies.
Anti-harassment compliance training programs administer guidance and measures for responding to incidents of bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment. They should clearly define what harassment is and outline any associated behaviors. Plus, anti-harassment training should cover effective strategies for responding to bullying and harassment, as well as provide intervention strategies.
Diversity training goes far beyond political correctness. Rather, it emphasizes the strengths of diversity and addresses how to work with people of different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical abilities, etc. As there’s strength in diversity, your employees should learn how to effectively embrace the valuable inputs and perspectives that a diverse workplace can bring to the table. In addition, your training program should also address how different demographics are to be portrayed in your company’s literature, documents, and marketing content.
Data protection & privacy
To ensure compliance within your organization, your training program should first draw the distinction between Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Data, and explain how and why this information is exploited. Your employees should know how to safely handle data beyond the work environment (e.g., mobile devices), and what to do in case of a lost or stolen mobile device.
Cybersecurity and Data Protection & Privacy naturally overlap, but it’s still worth separating both subjects into different compliance training programs. These programs should include how to efficiently manage the rapidly-growing volume of sensitive and/or confidential information, and train staff on the strategies, tools, and systems needed to protect people’s identities and personal data.
Every business needs to draft a code of ethics that details guidelines for disciplinary action. It should describe what corruption and cheating look like for your organization, as well as cover grey areas and conflicts of interest. Basically, your Ethics & Compliance training programs should include risk assessment training, methods to encourage whistleblowing, accountability structures, and a system for addressing grey areas/conflicts of interest.
While certain industries, job titles, and environments pose extra risks in terms of physical safety, even your standard office setting needs to comply with basic workplace safety standards. Whether it’s training on first aid procedures or general caution about bloodborne pathogens, employees should learn what they are and the appropriate responses/behaviors. Moreover, fire safety and emergency preparedness (e.g., earthquakes, armed intruders, etc.) are across the board. None are fully immune to these risks.
How to Automate Compliance Training
Now that you understand what compliance training is, and some of the different programs that exist, how do you deliver it to your employees? Some companies still use the time-consuming and tedious pen and paper method. However, there’s a much more effective way to bring knowledge to your staff, and this is via eLearning. By delivering compliance training online, you will be able to automate it and, therefore, save time and money, and make learning much more engaging.
Here are some helpful steps for automating compliance training in your organization. To get a quick overview of the process, watch the video tutorial below. For more detailed instructions, skip to the article.
Step 1: Develop your courses
If you have already provided compliance training for your staff, you’re likely to have all the necessary information to share, like PDF files on training requirements in OSHA standards or long video lectures on employment discrimination. You can use them all to create a complete training program.
Developing a training program requires a lot of planning. The first thing you need to do is clearly define which topics you need to create courses for. Then you will need to determine the purpose and audience of each course, build a scenario, write a script, and visualize what each slide will look like – commonly by way of a storyboard. Likewise, you might have to work with SMEs and legal professionals who can ensure and verify that the course materials are compliant with legislation.
To learn more about all these aspects of eLearning content development, read our guide on how to create an online courses.
Once you’ve completed the planning and content creation process, then you can begin the actual development. A number of eLearning authoring tools exist to help you automate this process.
For instance, iSpring Suite is a powerful authoring tool that works within the PowerPoint environment, meaning it’s easy to navigate, as most people have used PowerPoint before. You can easily add text and pair it with relevant multimedia, including video, audio narrations, and screencasts.
Here are a few examples of how you can use iSpring Suite for compliance training.
In this Fire Safety Compliance course, employees are immersed in the middle of an everyday office scenario where they learn how to identify fire hazards, perform a fire safety risk assessment, and respond to the outbreak of a fire if it occurs. Through the use of multiple interactive elements in a simulated setting, the compliance training feels less like a chore and more like a “choose your own adventure” game. You can watch a short overview of the course below.
To truly cement knowledge, your trainees need to interact with the course. Passive learning, where information is simply presented to learners without any bidirectional flow (i.e., training → learner and learner → training), typically goes in one ear and out the other. This is the last thing you need, especially with compliance training, where company liability looms in the distance.
iSpring Suite enables you to create or incorporate a wide variety of interactions. For example, you can use the Steps interaction to provide your employees with a step-by-step guide on how to behave in the event of a terrorist attack.
Or you can also use the Tabs interaction to outline the whistleblower cases for a course on business ethics.
Speaking of scenarios, people learn best through experience. And with compliance training, you can easily simulate what you’d do in unideal situations. Providing realistic scenarios also involves storytelling.
With iSpring Suite, you can easily create branched scenarios and dialog simulations. This is a great way to increase employees’ awareness of the rules and laws on life safety, ethical issues, inclusion, and some other compliance topics.
Here’s an example of a course with simulated scenarios on dealing with armed robbery:
Finally, while developing your courses, you need to have accountability measures in place. What better way to reinforce learning and ensure your employees are held accountable than with quizzes and assessments? With iSpring Suite, you can create engaging quizzes with drag-and-drops, matching or sequencing games, fill-in-the-blanks, and more.
Here’s a slide from the quiz on fire safety:
Of course, you can buy a ready-made fire safety course and some other off-the-shelf courses covering compliance topics, but only courses authored by you will reflect the specificity of your business. The best part is, once you’ve built your online course with iSpring, it’s yours for life! You only need to develop your program once. It can be reused over and over again for new onboards, and/or easily tweaked to ensure that your compliance courses remain up-to-date with legislatorial changes and standards.
Step 2: Upload your courses to an LMS
Once your course is ready to go, then you’ll need to distribute it to your employees. The easiest and most comfortable way to do this is to upload a course to a learning management system (LMS). LMSs are the gateway or portal through which your staff can access your corporate training program. It allows you to keep your courses organized, manage your learners, and track their progress, activity, and results.
If you still don’t have an LMS, you can try iSpring Learn. In addition to basic LMS options, it has some features that will help you make compliance training even more effective.
With iSpring, you can divide your employees into branches that mirror your corporate structure. This option may be helpful if you need to assign different compliance courses to multiple departments or distribute various content types to people working in states where the different laws are in force.
Assigning a course
With iSpring Learn, assigning your employees to a course is quick and easy. The LMS gives you the option of manually adding specific employees by name, or adding a group by searching with advanced parameters. You can also set specific rules that allow the LMS to gather all new employees and have them automatically enrolled in your compliance training courses, once added to a “New Hires” group, for example.
Courses often need to be assigned to employees repeatedly. For example, you may want your staff to regularly update themselves on safety rules or some other compliance topics. If you don’t like the idea of enrolling users manually each time, you can set up automatic course re-enrollments that repeat at specific intervals.
Another important thing is that you can incorporate blended learning (which borrows elements from both asynchronous learning and synchronous learning). For example, right in the LMS, you can schedule meetings with your employees in which you will inform them of new company policies or government legislation and check whether all of them have been present.
If you’re a large corporation that has employees situated in different regions or even all over the globe, you may want to meet your colleagues online. Since iSpring Learn is integrated with Zoom, you can host meetings directly from the LMS.
Sign up for a free 30-day trial of iSpring Learn to see if it’s right for your organization!
Step 3: Keep track of learners’ results
This step comes shortly after you’ve uploaded your courses to your LMS and distributed them to your trainees. Note that, when choosing your LMS, the tracking and reporting features are prime considerations. Without robust tracking and reporting, you’ll be in the dark about how to diagnose issues regarding your training programs, and most importantly, how to improve them for future use.
With iSpring Learn, you can stay on top of learners’ results. You can track such important things as:
- Course progress & completion rates
- Learner results/scores
- Attempts and answer breakdowns
- User feedback
Take a look at this sample Course Progress Report. You’ll find comprehensive info on your uploaded courses that allow you to see how many of your users have started and finished certain courses, how many are overdue, and more. From here, you can click on individual courses to get more detailed information.
These metrics are undeniably important because they show how engaged your learners are. For example, if your users are progressing quite slowly or not completing your courses, then there might be a problem that needs to be addressed by your course content. Likewise, if your employees are completing the objectives with low scores, maybe your content is engaging but missing the mark. Perhaps you need to align them more closely with your learning objectives or narrow the focus of your course more.
Either way, monitoring your users, what they’re viewing, and how long they’re viewing different parts of your course will help you determine what’s working and what needs work!
How to Make Your Compliance Training More Engaging
Now that we’ve touched on some handy corporate compliance training tools, you’re ready to learn about how you can leverage these tools to make your course more engaging. Here are a few important things you definitely need to take into account when developing a training program.
This is one of the first considerations while you’re planning your course. To maximize engagement, you should only select content that’s wholly relevant to your employees’ positions. This will help minimize their “going through the motions”. The more relevant you make your content, the more they’ll be able to visualize scenarios in which the compliance training is applicable.
Different kinds of learning materials
By providing the content in various formats, you’re catering to different learning styles. For example, while some learn best with words, others learn better with images. While some learn better by hearing things, others work better by doing things. Involving as many learning styles as possible per course will make it easier for you to deeply embed knowledge, as it’ll be administered through multiple sensory channels.
For example, you can create a complex course on business ethics that will include:
- An interactive training module on theory
- A video lecture on some specific ethical issues
- A quiz on overall knowledge gained on the subject
- A simulation to check how an employee will behave in particular situations.
Information is like food – to digest it well, you need to consume it in bite-size pieces. Often, employees find the courses too long, feel bored, and begin to rush through everything, especially with compliance training. But with short, 5-10 minute “bursts” of knowledge, employees can use their mobile devices to train while on their daily commute, during their breaks, or whenever they see fit.
For example, a microlearning theoretical course on “discrimination” might contain short sessions with the following six lessons:
- Defining discrimination
- What does discrimination look like?
- Who is usually discriminated against?
- Actions to take if facing discrimination
- Actions to take if witnessing discrimination
- Disciplinary actions for discriminatory behavior
Microlearning keeps your courses engaging by providing bursts of very specific and easy-to-retain knowledge. In the above example, if each of the 6 topics were only 5 minutes, your employees would complete your 30-minute course with minimal skin off their backs.
The easiest and fastest way to build microlearning courses is with the help of a dedicated authoring tool. For example, iSpring Page is specifically designed for creating microcourses. The content creation process is extremely simple – you just need to add text and complement it with images and videos. The tool allows you to create chapters, allowing one to digest information in sequenced chunks.
This is how a microcourse built with iSpring Page looks:
Few things spark motivation more than the spirit of competition. Therefore, why not infuse gamification — which borrows intrinsic elements from games such as points, badges, and leaderboards — within your course and/or LMS system?
Corporate compliance training is necessary, but not necessarily evil. Rather than framing it as a burden, reframe it as a benefit for both you and your staff. The best part is, once you automate your course using authoring software like iSpring Suite, you can reuse them over and over again, with minimal updating as necessary. Furthermore, the right LMS system will do most of the administrative work and reporting for you.
So would you like to deliver sophisticated and highly engaging compliance training with minimal time, money, and effort? Then try our free 14-day trial of the iSpring Suite authoring toolkit. If you still don’t have an LMS, also test-drive iSpring Learn without paying a cent!