There is one type of learning experience that affects more organizations and employees than any other: compliance training. Regardless of company size or industry, there is always at least some level of compliance training, either driven by regulations or internal rules. Since it affects just about every employee, why do companies struggle with it? There are usually two diametrically opposed truths when organizations think about compliance training:

  1. Compliance training is critically important; a matter of being able to function as a business and even life or death, in some cases.
  2. Compliance training is static, boring and treated as a necessary evil.

If compliance training is necessary, why does it have to be negative? One of the biggest issues is that we tend to look at compliance training from the perspective of preventing negative outcomes. Its association is with fines, accidents and lawsuits. While that might be acceptable in terms of business strategy, this attitude hardly encourages employee engagement.

Instead, the other benefits of the training should be emphasized, such as making a better work environment, demonstrating that the employees’ health and well-being are important or even making the company known for “doing the right thing” are all more far more engaging concepts than merely avoiding fines.

It would also help if compliance training got some of the design attention the other training receives. There is no reason compliance training shouldn’t be as engaging and thoughtful as training for products and services or leadership development.   look at it like this: Compliance training is often an employee’s first learning interaction with the company. If it is dry, boring and unimaginative, what will employees expect when the next learning event rolls around?

Brandon Hall Group Smartchoice Preferred Provider Origin Learning recently worked with a client to re-imagine their Code of Conduct training. For many of us who experienced this kind of training in the past, thoughts of binders, checkboxes and signoff sheets immediately come to mind. This leading multinational organization that develops networking products did indeed have a pdf of the Code of Conduct available to employees on a website, but the company wasn’t seeing that everyone fully understood the compliance issues involved. 

Origin was able to take the material and turn it into a story-based scenario for employees to experience. They broke it up across four clusters of like topics and causes and turned them into 15-20 minute “seasons.” Learners would insert their persona into the story and had to actively make their way through a fictitious scenario that touched on all the elements in the Code of Conduct. There were also two-minute videos that explained and reinforced each concept. By creating teaser videos for each upcoming scenario, they were able to generate increased interest and engagement.

This is a great example of taking compliance training out of the cement box it has been in for so long. Brandon Hall Group is conducting a study on reimaging compliance training and we hope you will take a few minutes to participate in our survey. It isn’t enough that a company can track that people completed certain compliance training or spent X number of hours doing it. People should understand the material, why it matters to them and why it matters to the organization. 


For information on Brandon Hall Group’s research and how we can assist your organization, please visit www.brandonhall.com

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David Wentworth

David Wentworth has been a senior research analyst in the human capital field since 2005 and joined the Brandon Hall Group in 2013. He has authored reports and articles on various human capital subjects with an emphasis on workforce technology. He has contributed to several reports published by ASTD, including authoring Mobile Learning: Learning in the Palm of Your Hand, The Rise of Social Media: Enhancing Collaboration and Productivity Across Generations, and Instructional Systems Design Today and in the Future. His work has also appeared in Compensation & Benefits Review and T+D Magazine.