Squaring the compliance circle

Compliance training is undervalued

8 January 2019 | Andy Wiles | , ,

The most significant challenge with compliance training is lack of learner engagement.

For most learners, the subject matter is perceived as ‘dry’ and the annual refresher is considered to be a tick-box exercise; something we just have to do. Therefore, the objective for most learners is to get through it as quickly as they possibly can, answer a few relatively simple or obvious questions, and then get on with some ‘real’ work. Unfortunately, most compliance e-learning is so poorly designed that it allows this to happen.

The problem isn’t about the subject matter. Compliance training is undervalued, which results in a lack of investment in it, which in turn leads to poor quality design and delivery. Most compliance e-learning follows a similar format. It steps through the legislation, stating ‘you must do this’ or ‘you must never do that’ and ‘your company must have a policy to cover this or that’; it’s no surprise that learners don’t like it!

 The answer is to design a higher quality solution. A sophisticated learner needs frequent changes of activity and media. Too much use of one media type or interactive technique and, at best, boredom sets in and at worst, the learner is distracted; only cursory attention is paid and key learning messages are overlooked. Successful e-learning uses a balanced mix of interactive techniques and media to deliver the training message. Our e-learning features a high level of user participation via a wide selection of interactive activities. These are used where appropriate for the content, and enable the learner to assess their own ability and build confidence as they progress.

 But it’s not just about media and interactive routines. The learning must be well structured, clearly written, and appropriately pitched so that it challenges the learner, providing them with a continual sense of achievement and progress.

 Most important is context, especially with e-learning where the learner does not benefit from trainer input or the dynamics of the trainee group; so we allow the learner to interact with situations, scenarios and characters that are credible, realistic and representative of life in the real world. From a design perspective, this means constructing the learning around stories and introducing underpinning knowledge as we go. This approach engages the learner, demonstrates the direct relevance of the training and prevents it from being dull or abstract. It provides a meaningful relevance that helps learners build confidence and importantly, apply their learning effectively to the workplace after the course is completed.

 In summary, when we’re designing compliance e-learning, we don’t simply regurgitate the rules, or rely on rich media alone to engage the learner.

 We do rely on:

  •  A clear understanding of the audience, their workplace and the types of situations they are likely to face
  •  Well-structured content that is accurate and well written, using a non-patronising tone and style
  • Engaging ‘real-life’ scenarios or stories to which the learner can relate readily, and that will challenge them appropriately, thus encouraging reflective, creative and independent thinking