12 Nov Frown upside-down: Changing the face of compliance
Sean Pearce looks at the difference between compliance training’s complacent tick-box past – and its compelling, behaviour-changing future
Compliance training makes up 42% of all the online training organisations carry out, but only 77% of learners actually complete it.
What’s the problem here? What’s gone wrong?
The issue is that learners tend to view compliance training as a chore. It’s getting your MOT, clipping your toe nails, or finding out exactly what it is that’s making the fridge smell like that – you have to do it, but it’s not your idea of a good time.
One source of this problem is that organisations (and some e-learning developers) understand compliance training as a reactive gesture. You get some compliance e-learning so that, if anyone drops the ball, you can always point towards it as proof that you take laws and regulations seriously. It wasn’t our fault guv.
But beyond learners’ unreliable attention spans, there’s a wider context to consider here too. Increasingly, organisations are realising that this isn’t good enough. More and more organisations want to take the opportunity and view compliance training as a way to boost performance, cut risks, and drive wider goals.
Instead of just being a potential legal defence, compliance training can protect organisations from those mistakes occurring in the first place. Good compliance training is like taking your vitamins or doing cardio – an active, preventative boost to your well-being.
The fields of potential risk are widening. Organisations are realising that they have to respond to this, and their compliance training priorities are reflecting this, especially with regards to data security and respecting diversity.
However, the current compliance solutions just aren’t cutting it. A recent survey suggested that only 33% of organisations have seen an improvement in risk management, and only 15% are seeing changes to workplace culture.
A major barrier is that learners expect to find compliance training boring, and aren’t enthusiastic about having to repeat it every year. The challenge is to produce e-learning which is engaging, interesting, even exciting. It has to defeat the negative reputation that exists around compliance training. It has to overcome the stereotypes and avoid the common problems.
One of these problems is to focus so specifically on the raw legal requirements that the learner can’t see how this could possibly apply in their life. This makes the training abstract, often reducing it to a box-ticking exercise. The learner won’t engage. The learner won’t remember.
In a word, the learner won’t learn!
Expanding the narrative of compliance training
This is where narrative learning can come into play. By placing the learner in a scenario – and this need not involve complicated branching functionality, just good learning design – where they’re told a story which involves the laws and regulations they need to be aware of, it becomes immediately more real, more concrete. After all, we’re not just information processors, we’re always in the lived midst of things, and our learning solutions have to reflect that in order to be effective.
This narrative has to be familiar and recognisable. It has to be what the job is actually like! This isn’t to say that e-learning has to be a 100% faithful simulation of what life is like in the organisation, but the learner must still feel somewhat at home in the training. Scenarios which are too ‘out-there’, while they may be memorable on their own, won’t necessarily reinforce the key lessons.
Other things to be borne in mind include combating the dreaded rush to get compliance training done before the cut-off. Instead of designing compliance training to be taken in a block, you can combat the click-through mentality through a continuous learning environment which includes mandatory training taken over a longer time-frame, fully integrated into the usual training and development framework..
Becoming the change we need to see
There isn’t any one way to fix the problems with compliance training. That is, after all, the whole point of bespoke e-learning solutions. Different organisations will have different needs.
But if we learn to approach compliance as a positive part of our development, a real difference can be made.
That’s why we are bringing together some of the finest compliance minds in L&D at an exclusive workshop event in central London next month.
We’re looking forward to sharing the latest learnings from recent projects and discuss the key issues facing compliance as we turn it into a tool for decisive behaviour and cultural change.