Compliance training, when not executed properly, can prove to be costly to organizations. Very often, compliance violations are not because of willful offenders, but ill-informed or unwitting employees who might not have paid attention or did not understand the implications of a particular action. Today, most organizations opt for online compliance training, as it is cost-effective, practical and can also be monitored easily. However, online courses can be boring and uninspiring if they are not engaging the participants. As a result, the learning may not be complete and as desired.
However, with simple elements in an online course and the right learning strategy, you can make courses effective and learner-friendly, as well as engaging. At the same time, you can also ensure that the participants complete all course modules without skipping and thereby missing important content. Given below are some important elements I have identified, based on my experience developing online compliance courses for leading organizations.
Adult learners need to know the purpose of the activity. As per NAVEX Global’s 2015 Ethics & Compliance Training Benchmark Report, about 37 percent of the respondents stated employee cynicism as the leading factor undermining training effectiveness. This is closely followed by employees’ reluctance to speak up out of fear of retaliation, at 35 percent. So it is good to start the course with a short, two- to three-minute video explaining the significance of the course to them as individuals and to the organization as a whole. You can also address any cynicism or concerns that employees may have here. Any apathy or lassitude towards the activity is likely to change and you will have willing participants.
For example, one of the organizations I know started a code of conduct course with a video sharing a case study where an employee and the organization got into trouble due to the employee’s inappropriate behavior. In this case, it was purely due to a lack of understanding about the appropriate behavior and cultural differences. Employees will appreciate the importance and relevance of such a course when you share such real case studies.
Rules, regulations, and laws are inherently boring and they don’t help in making compliance training popular. Very often, participants are unable to relate the laws and rules to typical workplace contexts. If you explain the same rules with the help of a scenario, taking a typical work situation, chances are that participants understand the concept better. Animations and a scenario-based learning strategy can be used to explain acceptable and unacceptable behavior or choices in a given context or situation.
For example, if you have an ethics training course that needs to explain what constitutes bribery and the practices one should refrain from, these can be showcased in the form of short anecdotes, stories or animations. They are likely to stick more in the minds of people than sharing a list of do’s and don’ts.
If you have a code of conduct training and your employee skips crucial parts of the module, the purpose would be defeated. The good thing about online learning is that you can tweak it as desired. So, if you do not want your learners to skip any portion of the module, you can do so easily. This way, you ensure that every important aspect pertaining to the training has been visited by the participant. You can also include simple games or formative assessments to allow participants to test themselves along the way.
Typically, completion reports are generated once the participant completes taking the final quiz or summative assessment. This is what is crucial to show regulatory authorities that the training has been completed. Just to ensure the training is thorough and complete, you can allow participants to take the quiz only after they have gone through the entire course. It means the quiz portion gets activated only after the participant has completed all the modules of the course. You can also include formative assessments as a prerequisite to taking summative assessments.
You can set the pass score for successful completion as per your choice or as prescribed by the regulatory authority. It could be 80 percent, 90 percent or 100 percent. But in compliance and safety issues, not knowing a very important safety parameter or regulatory law could prove to be costly in the long run. So, the advantage of online learning is this: when a participant does not get a question right, he or she can be directed to the relevant portion of the module to revisit and come back to take the test. You can record completion of the course when the participant scores 100 percent. After all, compliance training is not just about fulfilling mandatory requirements. You also need to make sure compliance violations due to employee oversight or lack of knowledge are minimized.
Online compliance training is very helpful and allows you to reach the maximum number of participants in a minimum amount of time. However, it is not just reach that is important. We also need to delve into the depths of the course and its impact. These tips, while not comprehensive, will at least set the process rolling to make compliance courses more receptive, as well as effective.
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Dr. Ayesha Habeeb Omer is the COO & Co-Founder of Commlab India, a global online learning solutions provider. She is hands-on with client projects and steers the team toward timely closure to provide the highest levels of customer satisfaction for clients. She has 19 years of experience in financial services, university teaching, training and e-learning. She was one of the first people in India to be awarded a doctorate in E-learning. She also holds an Advanced E-learning Instructional Design Certificate from ATD, USA.