Making Compliance Fun: Yes, It’s Possible

Compliance training: you have to assign it, your learners have to take it, and you probably don’t think it’s anyone’s favorite flavor of workforce learning.

You might be wrong, however. While compliance training falls firmly into the must-do category and isn’t nearly as fun as the nice-to-have training (meditation and yoga classes offered as perks, for example), learners are getting more interested in compliance — not necessarily because of the content, but for the way those modules are being served to learners.

What don’t learners like about compliance training?

Think back to the last in-person compliance training you had to attend. There was likely a speaker, a room of about 30 co-workers, photocopied handouts, and a PowerPoint presentation. If it was on-site, you probably had to block out an hour or so. If it was off-site, you lost about half a day. You probably had to fill out a questionnaire afterwards, so your trainers and supervisors knew you understood the material. The material itself may have been boring or irrelevant to your job, and it’s possible you didn’t remember much of what you learned afterward.

Those were all things you probably didn’t love. The numbers bear this out. A 2020 poll of financial services workers showed that most workers described compliance training materials as “boring.” This lack of engagement meant their attention suffered: 34% lost focus during the modules, and 15% of learners clicked through the lessons without even consuming the content. As a result, 44% of learners didn’t feel prepared to protect their company after training: not great news for a sector dealing with compliance challenges.

It’s probably not surprising, then, that the top compliance training concern for L&D leaders is learner engagement.

Why is compliance training ‘boring’?

You might think compliance training is losing learners because the subject matter is dry, but that’s not entirely the case.

While some compliance materials may be dull, the delivery of compliance training has more of an impact on the perception of that training than you might expect. Are any of these factors causing your learners to click through a module without learning?

  • Compliance training programs don’t respect the learners’ time: One study discovered that 70% of compliance training is more than 30 minutes long. More than half of that training is between 30 and 60 minutes. A small slice of training (4%) is a whopping 2+ hours long. Can you blame learners for not wanting to sit through all of that?
  • Compliance training isn’t delivered often enough: The majority of compliance training seems to be delivered once a year, according to research. Delivering compliance training all at once could have an effect on engagement and lead to bored learners. A better strategy is to produce shorter compliance modules several times a year. This approach is also likely to increase learner retention and recall.
  • Compliance training doesn’t resonate with learners: Another complaint is that while compliance training might be relevant to the industry, it has very little to do with learners’ day to day responsibilities. General training that can’t be applied in real-world scenarios is less engaging than lessons that are tailored to a learner’s’ role.

How do learners really feel about online compliance training?

All of this might make it sound as if learners don’t like compliance training at all, but that’s not the case.

Recently, Training Industry released its 2023 Learner Preference Report. The survey shows a surprising trend: most learners like taking compliance courses online. Online instruction was the most popular modality for compliance courses at 40%, a 5% gain over the 2022 report.

This finding is a stark contrast to the rest of the report. Learners prefer Instructor-Led Training (ILT) and On-The-Job training as delivery methods for every other type of training.

So why do learners like online learning when it comes to compliance?

  • Convenience: Online courses mean learners can take a module whenever they have time, rather than leaving work for a training session, and they can take a course from whatever device they have in hand.
  • Speed: In 2017, Training Industry conducted in-depth conversations with learners who praised the convenience of online compliance training. One learner, Linda, said she enjoyed taking compliance training quickly. “I don’t have to turn in completion certificates or anything else because it is all handled with the system we are using,” she said.
  • Help with retention: A learner can look back on a compliance course whenever they need to refresh their knowledge about the content in the course. Rather than having to rely on notes, or on their own memory, the compliance course is always in their learning management system (LMS) and learners can glance at it whenever they need to.

How can the content of compliance training be made engaging?

At first blush, it might seem like there’s no way to make compliance content fun. However, digital learning offers ways to make any learning fun, such as gamified modules, entertaining animations, quizzes that keep learners engaged, and microlearning that presents the most important chunks of information quickly and effectively.

The surprising rise of compliance training

Let’s be honest; it’s unlikely your employees will stand up and cheer when they’re assigned a compliance module. That doesn’t mean they’re doomed to sit through it with glazed-over eyes and very little retention, however.

There are ways compliance can be made engaging and thus, more impactful for your organization. Litmos’s new “Compliance Training Made Easy” guide explores best practices for enhancing your compliance training program and showcases customer compliance success stories. Access the guide to learn more.