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Compliance: from ticking boxes to supporting performance

Most organisations require their employees to go through compliance training.  It’s mandatory for legal and insurance purposes. The liabilities for non-compliance are huge: substantial penalties and fines and subsequent reputational damage.

So why is compliance training so often ineffectual? It’s seen as no more than literal box-ticking exercise with no obvious gain, but plenty of pain. How can we do compliance training better to make sure the employees are not only certified compliant but act compliant?

The worst-case scenario

As regulations and requirements change, companies face the prospect of more time spent training and more time away from the job. A large corporate body can put tens of thousands of people through compliance training annually. That’s potentially tens of thousands of working hours lost every year, unless those hours can be recouped in better productivity and performance.

Consider too what the average compliance course entails.  Often, it’s just about completing the course as quickly as possible, taking the test, getting the certificate, and carrying on as normal.  Then there are all the dodges and tricks to avoid the tedium and ingenious ways to game the system.  Don’t say you haven’t been tempted!  

As an organisation, you know you’ve a problem when the biggest effort expended is avoiding the training, rather than learning from it.

Too easy to forget

As if the challenge for compliance training weren’t hard enough, the fact is that with any training we forget most of what we’ve learned. And very quickly too.

Experts differ on the exact figure, but much of what you learn in a training session is left there as you walk out of the classroom or switch off your computer. There’s even a name for it: the Ebbinghaus Effect, first discovered in the 19th century.  

If you can’t remember stuff moments after you learned it, how can you be expected to remember it days, months or years later when you might actually need it?

Building a Learning Curve

Acknowledging that we are bound to forget is the first step towards finding strategies that help us remember. First, we need engagement to turn the bored, box-ticker into an active learner. There are a number of techniques to help us: introducing games to add an element of fun, breaking up the learning into more manageable chunks, repeating key learning points to aid reinforcement, spacing practice to keep learners engaged over time and beyond the course or class.  

These all aid memory, but remembering isn’t applying. Don’t forget, we don’t just want people certified compliant, we want them to be actively compliant.  

We need to extend the Learning Curve and build a continuum. But that needn’t mean creating more courses.   

The key factors here for retention and reinforcement of learning are context, relevance and motivation. And you’re most likely to enable them if you embed training in the real world of work, giving people learning where they actually need it: doing their jobs.  

This is precisely where Performance Support can help with compliance training.

‘I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.’ – Confucius

Performance Support: making training accessible

When we think of Performance Support, we usually mean job aids and quick reference guides. These vital resources help employees access or recall information they need as they need it. But most job aids are created to support employees after training, and not as part of it.  

At Learning Pool, we want to bring Performance Support together with training. Our Adapt courseware allows you to combine the benefits of courseware with performance support tools and resources. The way our courseware is built means relevant reference resources and key points of information can be exported from the course to become performance support aids.  

So, yes, you have your employees go through the compliance course, but one better designed to encourage engagement. The employee still needs to complete the course and gains the vital certificate or record.  

But the compliance training and learning needn’t stop when the employee leaves the classroom or clicks ‘submit results’ in the e-learning program.  

With performance support tools, such as Learning Pool’s Otto, employees have constant access to the vital elements from compliance training on the job, at the point of need.  What they’ve learned in the lesson becomes part of their daily working lives and anything they’ve forgotten is readily available when they need to remember it.

A new way of doing compliance – away from box ticking

If learning is a continuum, then compliance is too.  No doubt there’ll be the need for more compliance training as regulations change, but now as compliance becomes part of the working experience, you can have employees take pre-tests to fast-track them through subsequent issues.  

Using Performance Support in this way means that your employees are not only compliant, but acting compliantly.  And compliance is not just a case of having a valid sticker, but instead becomes inculcated into general working practices.

What you learn in the classroom or e-learning program accompanies you in the job where you can see its real relevance.  This is vital in the case of compliance, where too often training is regarded as a one-off occurrence to be endured, rather than as the necessary and best way of doing business.

Compliance and Performance Support: the opportunity

Reviewing learning trends Michael Treser observed that learning was no longer ‘an episodic activity, mostly taking place during the onboarding stage’.  At Learning Pool, we feel this is particularly true for compliance training.  

Performance Support is an effective means to retain and apply what you’ve learned.  We believe it can move compliance training from being a necessary evil and unavoidable burden on productivity to an opportunity to enhance performance and make that training more relevant and effective.

It’s not just about the cost of not doing compliance, it’s about the benefits of having employees who recognise the value of compliance and apply it in the way they work.  

The end game: Full compliance

So, no more box ticking, no more wasted training sessions.  With the help of a little Performance Support you can make compliance training less burdensome and more effective.  Compliance becomes a virtuous circle where training helps employees work securely and efficiently and avoid costly mistakes and reducing those unproductive hours sat in training.

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