Compliance training exists in every industry. From ethics training to information security, companies need to educate their employees on a wide range of topics to satisfy industry and legal requirements. And because these courses are often not only part of new employee onboarding plans but also assigned to staff on an annual or biannual basis, you’ll likely create, review, and update many throughout your e-learning career.

Because compliance courses are regulated, they have different requirements than other types of training. Not only that, compliance training can—and likely will—be audited at some point. And if an auditor discovers the requirements aren’t met, there can be serious consequences—like hefty fines. For this reason, it’s important to ensure you’ve covered all your bases so you’re prepared for an audit. This means scheduling regular reviews, watching for changes in regulations or laws, and maintaining detailed training records. 

But while the legal aspects are important, don’t forget to make sure your training is practical and engaging for learners. Compliance training is notorious for being dry and boring, but there are things you can do to break away from that stereotype in your own courses.

So how do you make sure you’re meeting requirements without sacrificing the learning experience? Read on to find out! 

1. Do Your Research

Before creating compliance training, make sure you have a full understanding of what’s required. Often, there’s a set of standards that outlines what’s expected of training providers. Take your time to read these documents in their entirety and make note of things you’ll need to include when developing your course. 

If you’re creating training to satisfy a legal requirement—for example, sexual harassment prevention training—research the details of the law. Does it specify a minimum training duration? Do you need to document feedback during the course review process? Does there need to be a final assessment? Find out exactly what’s needed so you can rest assured everything will be covered if you’re audited.

2. Make Your Objectives Clear

There’s a reason you’re creating this training—so make sure it’s clearly stated in the learning objectives. That reason shouldn’t simply be “because of compliance regulations.” Think about what learners should be able to do after completing the training. Make sure it’s something measurable or you won’t be able to prove they can do it. But don’t just leave it at that—you should also tell learners why the objectives should matter to them. This will motivate them to engage with the course material. 

After you’ve created and stated your objectives, measure whether learners have met them by connecting each one to course assessments—whether that’s pre-checks, knowledge checks, or a final quiz. 

Want more guidance on writing learning objectives? Take a look at this article: All About Learning Objectives for E-Learning.

3. Be Respectful of Time

One reason learners dislike taking compliance training is it’s often time-consuming. Sometimes lengthy courses can’t be helped, especially in the case of laws and regulations that require learners to spend a certain amount of time in training. But if you’re creating training that doesn’t have a time requirement, think about how you can convey the necessary information most efficiently. Make sure your course doesn’t contain more information than is required, which can quickly lengthen training and cause your learners to tune out. 

To be respectful of your learners’ time, try these two techniques:

  • Partner with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to streamline content. Use your SMEs to your advantage! Ask them to help you narrow down the course content and identify what is truly essential to achieve the course objectives.
  • Allow learners to test out of sections. By including pre-tests, you can capture and prove learners’ knowledge and allow them to focus only on the sections they need. To learn how to do this, check out this article: 4 Ways to Use the New Quiz Tracking Features in Storyline 360

And there’s another benefit of cutting down training time—you save your organization money by allowing learners to spend more time focusing on their job and less time on training.

4. Mindfully Control Navigation

“How can I force learners to stay in a course for X amount of time?” is one of an instructional designer’s most dreaded questions. Sure, you don’t want learners to skip past all the valuable content you’ve worked hard to create, but the idea of forcing a learner to sit through a course just for the sake of a duration report doesn’t feel great either. Again, there might be times where you can’t avoid that because there’s a time requirement, but when that’s not the case, be thoughtful about when and how you control navigation. Evaluate content and restrict navigation only when it’s truly necessary. For example, when there’s an activity learners need to complete, a video they need to watch, or narration they need to listen to.

If you’re working with Rise 360, you have lots of options for controlling course navigation. You can restrict navigation throughout the entire course, or you restrict navigation in certain areas of the course using a locked continue block

If you’re creating a course with Storyline 360, you have three standard navigation settings for slides: free, restricted, or locked. Of course, there are plenty of other ways you can control navigation, like using the conditional seekbar or triggers.

5. Add Interactivity

One of the biggest learner complaints about compliance training is how dry and boring the content can be. Even though it’s important information, learners will mentally check out if it doesn’t feel relevant to their daily work. 

Including stories and characters is one way to help learners understand the practical application of the content. This digital media ethics course is a great example of how to do that:

View example

You can also add interactive scenarios to immerse your learners in the content and allow them to make decisions like they would in a real-life situation. This example of a scenario-based health and safety course shows how you can do just that:

View example

These are just two examples of ways you can make compliance content feel more relevant and engaging. There are tons more! Do a quick search of E-Learning Heroes and click on the Examples or Downloads filters for inspiration:

6. Schedule Regular Reviews

Establishing a review cycle is a good practice for any type of course, but it’s especially key for compliance training. That's because often, these courses need to be updated on a yearly basis to take into account changes in company processes or compliance regulations.

If you have more than one compliance course, it's a good idea to create a spreadsheet that tracks all your courses and their review cycles. Download this template to get started:  

Download spreadsheet

And to expedite the review process, try using an app like Review 360, which makes it quick and easy to collect stakeholder and Subject Matter Expert feedback all in one place. During their review, ask them to make sure the course still aligns with the current requirements or laws. Invite them to pay attention to small details—like the mention of a specific year—that might need to be updated. And if the training covers an internal process, ask them to confirm that’s still how things work. Then, go through and make all the necessary updates.

7. Prepare Your Documentation

When it comes to compliance training, documentation plays a big role in making sure you’re prepared for an audit. While the types of records you’ll need can vary—depending on your company, the training, regulations, and laws—here are some general items you should document:

  • The feedback collected during the review process. If you’re using Review 360, this part is easy. You can export all of the comments you received on a project to a PDF or CSV file that you can save for your records. 
  • The date training was assigned, as well as who it was assigned to. This is important because you might need to prove the training was assigned by a certain date or to a specific group of people.
  • The completion records. In addition to showing the date each individual completed the course, consider including how much time each person spent in the course and what score each learner received.

Preparing documentation up front can save you time in the future, especially in the case of an audit. Even if you aren’t audited, it’s a good idea to maintain training records, as they can help you perform a self-audit. 

More Resources

Hopefully this article gives you ideas on how you can better create and maintain effective compliance training that keeps learners engaged while satisfying requirements. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out these articles full of creative ideas for creating compliance courses.

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