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From Why to Wow: Develop E-learning Modules for Engaging Compliance Training

Compliance training, though mandatory, is greeted with grim faces and grumbling from employees; the usual response is, why this training? Why us? Why now? Though organizations do their best to convince employees that compliance training is important, employees are not enthusiastic. They find them dry and boring and get lost in the legalese the courses contain. The first question on employees’ minds is, “Why make us go through this?”

Organizations offer compliance training to ensure their employees are compliant with the regulations specific to their industry. To meet this objective, they impose training (often online training) on employees with off-the-shelf courses which comprise box ticking exercises. Invariably, these training exercises are ill-designed. Employees’ attitude towards such compliance training is understandable.

For training that deals with topics important for risk mitigation and business survival, organizations need to focus on improving the effectiveness of the training so that learners find it immersive and engaging.

Off-the-shelf courses opted by companies fail to garner engagement. These have a reputation of having repetitive or irrelevant information. This is because these courses cover generic information.

Well, you can change the perception of employees towards compliance training when you provide customized training that can engage them. According to a benchmark study by Towards Maturity, more than 72% of organizations use custom-made e-learning courses for their compliance training. Customized courses can alter the response to the training from why to wow! This blog will tell you how you can do this.

Designing customized courses

Before telling you about customized courses for compliance training, remember that compliance training presents challenges that do not exist for other kinds of training. There are a number of ‘gray areas’ and the training has to enable the learner make the right decision in situations that cannot be bracketed as right or wrong or black or white. For instance, would it be acceptable to accept movie tickets from a supplier? Share information about management decisions with a friend working for a competitor? Are they breaches of conduct? Considering this, the instructional strategies used should ideally give learners the opportunity to understand how situations can occur, how they can evolve, and also practice their responses to them.

Coming to the strategies you can use, even if the content may not always be compelling, certain instructional strategies can make the learning experience interesting.

Designing customized courses

Scenarios: Compliance course material consists of rules and regulations and the repercussions of not following them. Presenting these as bulleted points, PowerPoint presentations, or audio clips will just put off your learners. It will not facilitate any retention but only overload or frustrate them.

The alternative is to create scenarios. You can create scenarios that are close to real life situations employees may face at work and ask for their responses. Feedback can be provided for the different choices they make. This will help learners’ understand the right option and why.

How does it engage the learner? The rich animations and engaging storyline will engross the learner and he will unwittingly absorb and retain the rules implied in the scenario. Our work with a global electronics company followed this strategy. For an e-learning course on harassment at the workplace, we used scenarios to depict the various kinds of harassment and asked the learner for his response by providing alternatives. The right course of action was clearly described while explaining why the other choices could be wrong. The result, employees learned how to identify harassment and the right course of action. They learnt this through engaging scenarios instead of going through screens loaded with text.

Storytelling: Stories catch our attention and resonate with us and are more interesting than trying to learn plain information. When stories are woven into compliance training modules such as code of conduct, anti-bribery, or information security, learner engagement will be better.

This can be done by creating characters in the stories which learners can identify with. Learners will be engaged if you use characters, themes, and plot lines that can connect with them on a deeper level. And when you make this connection, there are greater chances that they will remember more information as the experience holds significance for them.

Research confirms that over 70% of what we learn is through storytelling, so when compliance training is delivered in the context of a story, it can have a positive impact. It can be a powerful way to change behavior rather than let learners simply absorb the information.

Videos: Videos can be used to teach important or delicate compliance issues such as emergency procedures, sexual harassment, or fire safety. We created a course on fire safety for an automobile retailer using videos that explained the different classes of fire and choosing the right extinguisher to put them out. Videos have a better impact because learners absorb information better through videos rather than through complex visuals. YouTube videos can be embedded in online courses using authoring tools such as Lectora Inspire.

Micro-learning: Compliance training delivered in bite-sized modules is a better way to deliver training than chaining learners to their desks with lengthy and complex content. They would wish it to be over as soon as possible. You have lost your learner there. Instead, provide short bite-sized modules covering 1-2 learning points. This will make learning more specific and impactful. They can also briefly summarize what they learnt in the previous module. This will act as reinforcement.

Choice: Employees usually need to complete 2 or 3 compliance courses annually. They can be given the option of choosing the order of taking the courses. If they leave a course midway, they can be given the choice of starting from where they left off. Providing this choice will contribute to learner interest.

Using these strategies can make your compliance training engaging and exciting and certainly up employee enthusiasm for the training. Do share your views.

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