How to fix compliance training
Updated: Mar 26
Companies pour millions of dollars into compliance training that employees don’t pay attention to and HR teams spend way too long administering. Ineffective training can lead to losing even more money and time to fraud, malfeasance, and misconduct lawsuits that the training was meant to protect against. The way we are training employees doesn’t work. Here’s why:
Problem 1: Annual compliance training doesn’t stick
Most training happens only once a year, so information doesn’t stick. Adults learn best through repetition and reinforcement which can’t happen with even the best yearly lecture — and employees can’t practice what they’ve learned if they don’t remember it. On top of this, annual training signals that the topic is an afterthought to the company.
The fix: Train your team more often
To increase the chances of employees remembering training, and then modifying behavior, repetition over time is key. Training at a more frequent cadence throughout the year allows for core ideas to be repeated and emphasized which also signals to employees that yeah, this really matters.
Practically, shorter, more frequent training also avoids mental fatigue and allows for busy employees to engage with the material when they have time, rather than getting distracted mid-way through a long session they just want to end.
Problem 2: Compliance training is not relevant
A significant hurdle companies face in getting employees to take training seriously can be summed up by two sentences (and, fine, one emoji): “That would never happen here” or “That’s just the way it is 🤷♀️.”
Current compliance training solutions are one-size-fits-all: the same scenarios and tone are used across industries, workplaces, and roles. A quality inspector at a 2,000 person manufacturing company receives the same training as a product manager at a 60 person tech startup, even though the daily tasks, environment, and challenges they face are completely different. If your team doesn’t recognize and relate to the scenarios they’re presented with, they’ll also struggle to apply the training to the situations they actually face in the workplace.
The fix: Make sure your compliance training content is relevant
Choose or create training that is tailored to both your industry and your workplace. When you are evaluating which training to use make sure that the tone matches the typical tone your employees use to communicate. For example, if you are at a tech company, a casual tone might be best.
Also make sure the scenarios match actual events that could occur in your workplace. If you are entirely virtual, make sure your training content isn’t all about situations that happen in person at team happy hour. Sounds fun, but is easy to skip over when these never happen.
“Effective compliance trainings are those that are tailored to the specific realities of different workplaces” - EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace
When teams see themselves and their company reflected back in the training, they’re more likely to pay attention, understand why it matters, and then apply the training.
Problem 3: Compliance training is boring
When training is treated as a legal burden versus a learning opportunity, employees realize it quickly and check out. Boring training might technically cover your legal burden in preventing unethical behavior, but it's less likely to stop the inappropriate behavior from happening.
The best legal protection is teaching your employees what they need to know and how to apply it.
The fix: Make sure your compliance training is engaging and representative of current events
Pick training that reflects the times we’re in and includes a variety of training formats. So long, cringeworthy videos of people with shoulder pads standing by the water cooler! A combination of audio, text, video, gifs, comics, allows training to be disseminated in a fresh and engaging way.
Training scenarios and references should also be updated frequently to reflect what’s going on in the world at large. For example, when everyone switched overnight to working from home during the pandemic in 2020, training should not be referencing Jim and Pam going to a bar because, well, no one was doing that! Employees should not be taking training that was created before the #MeToo movement that has since not been updated.
It’s important to also understand employee engagement by asking for feedback, whether through the training platform or otherwise. Leaders can be on the lookout for what’s resonating and what isn’t, which does more than improve the content - it signals to employees that their opinions matter.
At Ethena, we are fixing compliance training. We noticed these issues in training we completed in the past, and are creating the future of compliance training that is engaging, personalized, relevant, and evidence based. Companies that care about culture change can use this opportunity to demonstrate that these topics are a high priority to the company by choosing training that sticks, and actually speaks to their employees’ experiences.
To learn more about Ethena’s training content and how it’s different, schedule a demo.
Let’s train better.