When done well, compliance e-learning can prove to be extremely effective, drive positive behavioural change, deliver measurable results and play a crucial role in your overall compliance programme.
– Iain McLeod, Regional Director (EMEA), SAI Global Compliance
Do you find that your online compliance courses are met with moans and groans by your employees? Do they put off completion and procrastinate till the end? Well, often they are not to be blamed. It is usually the design of the compliance courses that is the culprit. This has been stated in a research report by Toward Maturity. According to the report, a whopping 67% of organizations admit that user engagement is the top barrier to adopting technology enabled compliance training (Source: Towards Maturity, 2013). Fortunately, with simple design changes, you can actually encourage employees to complete the courses quickly. Here are some ideas.
Break the course into individual modules
The training content is usually specific for any compliance program. For example, in case of sexual harassment prevention training, the training should include the types of conduct that are considered as sexual harassment, remedies available to the victims, employers’ obligations in case of complaints of sexual harassment, and so on. It certainly is a lot of information to process. There are occasions where the law mandates that organizations provide a minimum of two hours of training (example, California’s AB 1825). It can get difficult for a busy executive to allocate 2 hours at a stretch and this could be one of the reasons for delayed completions.
If we break the training content that is specified by the law into smaller chunks, employees will be able to complete the course a bit at a time instead of having to allocate a big chunk of time. With a good learning management system, we can also monitor the progress, and record the amount of time users actively spend and engage with the course.
Remove restrictions such as completion in one sitting
It can be tiresome and impractical to expect employees to spend two hours on a single online course at one go. The breaking down of the course into smaller modules also allows the course to be completed over a span of multiple sessions. In some cases, when employees exit the course/module in the middle, they are forced to start from the beginning. This can be a big dissuading factor for online courses. While there may be some amount of restrictions in the navigation that are required based on the type of compliance course, the restriction to complete in one sitting can be quite demanding.
Instead, if employees can continue the course from where they left, they are likely to work towards quick completion. Also, if the course has independent modules that are about 15 minutes long, employees get a sense of achievement after completing each module and are motivated to go ahead. Unless there is a specific requirement by the law or regulation to complete the course in one sitting, it is best to allow employees complete the course over multiple sessions at their convenient time.
Chunk content based on need and target audience
Rules and regulations are broad, covering a wide spectrum of people – right from the management to the employees on the shop floor. It may not serve any purpose if the rules and regulations are shared as they are with all the legal terminology intact. There is no point in stating what the law says. The focus should be on how it affects individuals.
Therefore, we need to tweak the content so that it focuses on what employees should not do at work, give examples from the workplace as to what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, provide clear information about what they should do in case they notice breaches, and so on. Also, the curriculum should focus on the target group and their learning objectives. For example, the roles and responsibilities of supervisors may be different from others. The same content may not be relevant to all employees. We should ensure that unnecessary and irrelevant content is not included as this might result in boredom or cognitive overload.
Include interactivities and quizzes based on scenarios
Most of the compliance training content is dull and boring. The terminology used by the regulatory authorities is legal and uninspiring to the normal employee. While laws require to be detailed and complex, there is no need for the courses to be so. We can make compliance courses interesting, simple and easy to understand for the employees; thereby inspiring employees to complete courses faster.
Examples, case studies and interactivities in-built into the course are a good way to make the courses interesting and engaging. Formative assessments, quizzes and opportunity to interact with an SME or a supervisor (in case of doubts) are important. We need to explain the rules, laws and regulations through practical examples that mirror situations at work. Scenario based learning or story based learning strategies will work very well for compliance courses. This way, employees will not find the content boring and at the same time, understand the provisions of the law and their obligations better. We need to design the assessments and quizzes carefully so that employees don’t find them too vague and complicated or too easy and obvious when answering.
Make it compatible with multiple browsers and devices
This is in line with the other suggestion that restrictions to complete the course in one sitting should be removed. If we make courses compatible with multiple devices, an employee can start the course on his desktop but continue on his tablet or mobile at a later date. This way, employees will have the option to make use of their free time effectively. We need to decide right at the beginning of the course development, whether we want to make the course compatible with multiple devices such as desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile friendly devices. We also need to consider the fact that employees could be accessing the course from different browsers. If we have to make the course compatible with multiple browsers and devices, these aspects will need to be incorporated right in the design phase. Allowing employees to access the courses from multiple devices just increases the chances of them completing the courses faster.
These are some ways we could help create better user engagement in compliance courses and ensure quicker completion rates. What do you think? Do you have other suggestions? Please share them here.