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Understanding Compliance Training

What is compliance training? How much effort should we put into it? Learn how to build compliance training to making it effective. 

4 min read
Tom Kuhlman blog post

How much of e-learning is compliance training?

I’m not sure what the number is, but my guess is that compliance/regulatory training makes up a large majority of the e-learning that gets created.

Most compliance training isn’t training to change performance. The focus is awareness and certifying that the learner understands and accepts those expectations. Or perhaps it’s some sort of annual refresher.

I used to work with a community healthcare group and the nursing staff did a week of annual training. They already knew the content. However, they had to review the content each year and be certified. But they weren’t really learning a lot of new things.

Another common example is ethics training. We don’t have organizations full of unethical people and then do training to make them ethical. Instead, we do the ethics training to state the organization’s position and expectations.

The downfalls of compliance training

That doesn’t mean there’s no performance expectation. For example, a performance requirement may be to identify unethical behavior. Or perhaps, it’s knowing what to do when it’s witnessed.

In fact, one of the downfalls of compliance training is that the focus is usually only on the content and end-of-year certification. But what about how to apply the expectations in the real world:  learn how to identify unethical behavior and then what to do?

Because compliance training is usually only focused on disseminating content, the measure of understanding is usually a few simple multiple choice quiz questions and certificate of completion.

Tips to improve compliance training

However, if the compliance training focused on how the organization’s expectations play out in a real-world environment, the course designer could use decision-making scenarios that mimic the real-world. This is a better way to assess the learner’s understanding of ethics and how they apply the training in a context that’s meaningful to themselves.

I get asked a lot about compliance training and here is my core advice:

  • If it’s merely to certify exposure to the content, create a simple course with a simple quiz so that people can get in and out of the course and back to productive work quickly.
  • If you want to build engaging and meaningful training, identify the performance angle and create decision-making opportunities so they can process the content in a relevant context.

What do you find to be the biggest challenges with compliance training?

4 min read

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