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8 signs your compliance training needs an update

Compliance is a complex and ever-changing area and compliance training needs to keep pace.  But, it’s not just about keeping course materials up to date to reflect changes. The way training is delivered and the way it responds to the needs of its audience also needs constant consideration.  

Here we identify 8 key indications that your compliance training needs updating, looking at ways you can not only recognise the warning signs and how you can address the gaps too.

1. New rules and regulations

Compliance legislation changes and evolves, so your training needs to keep pace with change.  New areas of compliance, like GDPR, arise from legislative initiatives, while others, like Mental Health in the Workplace emerge as society understands the pressures and risks arising from modern working practices.  This is the clearest sign and one you’re always looking out for, but how do you ensure your training is up to date?

If changes are small, any gaps in training may be covered by careful editing of what you currently have.  This is easier to do if your content is online, as you can quickly update it and make it instantly available.  But, what happens when a whole new area emerges with a pressing deadline for compliance like GDPR?  Then, new material and possibly entirely new courses are needed.  

E-learning makes sense here, as it allows you to buy in complete courses that contain industry-standard material often approved by industry and regulatory bodies.  Rather than develop your own courses, you can swiftly and effectively cover gaps in Compliance Training as new areas emerge. External changes to compliance are relatively easy to recognise and keep track of.  What’s more difficult is changes to internal processes and behaviours that increase the risk of your organisation and your employees failing to be compliant.  This increase in risk may not be as obvious as an increase in workplace accidents or days lost. Often there’s a drift away from best practice as shortcuts and avoidance strategies become the norm.  Compliance requires eternal vigilance and processes need to be regularly assessed.

Refresher training is one answer to arresting this slide, but you also need to evaluate the effectiveness of the training.  Is it making the impact you require?  Most critically, are your employees responding to it and applying it in their day-to-day working practices?

3. Lack of learner motivation

One of the constant refrains about compliance training is that it fails to engage learners.  There’s a commonplace perception that compliance training is necessary from a strictly legal point of view, but inconvenient because it takes employees away from their work and avoidable because it doesn’t always apply to everyone all the time.  A scatter-gun, catch-all approach to training can add to this impression.

Training that isn’t tailored to its audience is likely to go over their heads.  Compliance training is too often a list of do’s and dont’s, full of general proscriptions, rather than an explanation of why it matters.  So, if you need to overhaul your training to update information, consider too overhauling how it’s delivered in terms of tone and relevance and re-evaluating how it’s received.  Scenarios and stories that emphasise how legislation should apply to day-to-day practice will have a greater impact than a list of rules. Clearly, for legal reasons, much of compliance training needs to be prescriptive.  There are things you just shouldn’t do, but beyond the rules and regulations, there needs to be an understanding and recognition of how these regulations and practices are applied.  The most effective training occurs when learners actively assimilate it and apply it as they work and learn.

Modern learners are used to discovering information for themselves.  The proliferation of material online and ways of searching it means they have the resources to inform themselves outside the workplace.  This is both a bonus and a hazard. If you’re unsure of something you Google it, but are you sure of the answer (or the many thousand answers) you end up with is the right one?  In delivering your compliance training you can address this problem of information overload by making your own resources searchable and accessible.  You also then ensure that the answer your learners receive is the correct one: i.e. the one that your organisation stands over and is best practice, and not just one Google’s algorithm selects as the most relevant.

5. Poor access

Whilst using e-learning can help you quickly respond to changes in compliance law and practice, it’s not enough in itself.  The traditional compliance training delivery model of course followed by assessment will only get you so far. Training needs to be a continuous process, not a stand-alone event.

Improving access to compliance training materials means that you can more easily update your learners on relevant changes.  Updating resources and reminding learners by automatic notification of the need to refresh and update their knowledge, means you don’t need to wait to organise a mass training event to ensure your employees remain compliant.

Putting the onus on employees to access the information they need makes them both more responsible and responsive.  Actively seeking information is a behaviour of modern learners that if fostered in the workplace will make for a more engaged, pro-active and accountable employees.  These are precisely the behaviours that effective Compliance Training needs to instil in the workforce.

6. No mobile option

Making use of mobile connectivity also makes sense.  Very often, professional compliance focuses on interactions between an organisation and its clients.  These unstructured interactions may occur away from the desk and outside the organisation. Access to information on how to stay compliant while on the job can be critical.  

Having mobile access to training resources (those precious do’s and dont’s) can reduce the risk of non-compliance and extend the realm of training beyond the usual training environment.  Mobile access means you bring compliance training fully into the workflow. It’s easy to talk about the need for responsive, adaptable and flexible compliance training, but how is it possible in practice?  The answer comes from continuous evaluation. Digital resources combined with intelligent ICT systems allow you to recognise and report on which elements of training are being used and which are not.  Engaging learners not only means they’re more receptive to training, but it also allows you to analyse more readily what’s working and what isn’t.

If you allow learners to pull resources as and when they need them you can track actual usage.  It’s like having the views or recommendations you see on social media sites.  You can track not only use but utility. This allows for smarter, timelier and more targeted training interventions.  In a swiftly-moving area like Compliance, this flexibility and speed of response can be vital to keeping your organisation compliant.

8. Standing still

The clear message on Compliance Training is that you can’t standstill.  Compliance is not a fixed body of information to be learned once and retained.  The area of Compliance is constantly evolving and training needs to match that evolution.  Just adding new information, while important, isn’t enough. You need to consider the way you organise, deliver, implement and evaluate your Compliance Training.

New technology can help with increasing access and improving engagement, but you also need to consider the changes to the ways in which your employees now access, process and learn new information.  This means taking training out of the classroom and into the workflow, making learning more learner-centric and personalised and analysing what’s being used and what isn’t.  

You need to update your approach to Compliance Training and not just the material.

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