Given the critical importance of compliance training, it’s understandable that it can be a costly undertaking. The cost doesn’t just include the provision of training itself. It also extends to the loss in productivity when large numbers of staff are taking away from their jobs to attend courses.
Add to that the problem that compliance training is often a forgettable, box-ticking exercise, and therefore ineffectual, and your training bill mounts.
So, what can you do to minimise the cost of compliance training and at the same time maximise its impact?
Here are some tips that allow you to provide the training you need while keeping productivity levels up and enhancing performance, reducing the need for further, remedial training. The goal is to give your organisation a cost-effective way of staying compliant.
1. Work out your budget
Clearly you don’t have an unlimited budget to spend on compliance. But what can you afford? Some initial analysis of your goals and ambitions will help you decide.
You may start by considering what’s the minimum you need to be compliant. But push yourself further and think of the potential return on investment if training results in employees working compliantly, following best practice and requiring at most a little supplementary training as requirements or regulations change.
There’s a temptation to undervalue what you already have. An inventory of existing learning assets and policies will help you discover what you’re missing and allow you to target any gaps with new training.
Consider too the resources you have in-house. Experienced employees may have the expertise others require but it’s trapped in their heads. If they leave, the knowledge leaves with them. Think of them as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to whom you can turn to when developing new compliance training and whose knowledge can be distilled into training resources.
2. DIY Compliance
If you have the SMEs in-house, you can consider making your own digital and online training. There are a variety of easy-to-use tools and platforms out there to help you – many of them free to use and access. Think of video-making tools like Camtasia or Captivate. You can record and upload your own voice. Or make use of text-to-speech software. Many of your employees will be very familiar with social media and have experience creating their own digital assets. As we’ll see, compliance training need not be a classroom-based, one-off event and these digital resources can fill vital gaps.
And while you’re looking into do-it-yourself options, resist the temptation to reinvent the wheel. With social media platforms, YouTube and wiki sites there’s a wealth of well-documented, artfully-presented material on all aspects of compliance.
The key thing is to determine which of the myriad of resources are appropriate and suitable for your organisation’s and your employees’ needs. Linking to these resources is easy, but you need to give some guidance or commentary on how to use them. You need also to verify that they’re being used properly and that the information is reinforced, through assessments or checks.
3. Buy in
The DIY model may be hard to manage and difficult to scale across an organisation, so it’s worth considering buying in resources. This needn’t necessarily mean high-end, costly consultancy services. E-learning as a mode of delivering compliance training should make it accessible to a large number of users. This overcomes the need to provide costly training sessions for different sections of a large organisation.
E-learning training catalogues covering different aspects of compliance offer a flexible solution to training. Many of these courses offer you the ability to customise them to suit your training needs and reflect your organisation’s environment and requirements. Localisation into other languages is also possible, allowing you to ensure the same training is delivered across the organisation as a whole.
This generic, but adaptable e-learning offers you the advantage of tried and tested training created and validated by industry experts. You can then use your own SMEs and L&D people to tweak it to your particular needs.
Also, many of the e-learning providers include free updates as part of the licensing agreement and may provide IT and e-learning support staff to advise and assist you on implementation, deployment, and maintenance.
E-learning catalogues may extol the benefit of customisation, but you need to be sure what that means. You don’t want to purchase something that then requires you to employ costly resources to edit and adapt.
Make sure that any e-learning material works with templates that you can adapt to suit your requirements. This may be as simple as allowing you to add logos or replace images with ones that better reflect your organisation.
Some e-learning may come bundled with an authoring system or course builder that allows you to create your own e-learning resources within the platform. This gives you more flexibility to make good use of your own in-house expertise, but you also need to consider the cost of training on the system and support for it.
5. Resources not courses
Increasing training is being regarded as a continuous and iterative process and not just a discrete, one-off event. That’s equally true of compliance. And if you bring training closer to the point of use, it has more impact.
But to make training more accessible and less costly you need to adopt a ‘resources not courses’ approach. This means creating bite-size nuggets of information that can be easily digested and retained. These resources can often be created in the DIY approach or derived from an adaptable e-learning programme.
Making these assets available across platforms and devices makes them more accessible and gives maximum usage for minimal cost. If you can access resources on a mobile device, for example, you don’t need to attend a compliance course to see if you’re doing the right thing. By providing this on-the-job access in the workflow you’re supporting and enhancing job performance.
6. Targeting and relevance
No matter what approach you take or how much you budget, your efforts will be in vain if the training has no effect. It may be less of a chore to sit through five rather than fifty minutes of training, but if it doesn’t engage the learner and doesn’t seem relevant to the employee it’s not making an impression.
In deciding what your compliance training aims are you need to specify the learning outcomes you want to obtain. These need to be relevant and directed at the roles and tasks employees perform. An all-encompassing module may only have limited relevance for certain people. Better to extract that relevant section and target it at the people who need to apply it.
Compliance training should be tied to the circumstances and scenarios that employees are likely to encounter in their jobs. Sales staff have different compliance needs to those in HR. Role-based, story-led training showing compliance in action with credible scenarios. If compliance training reflects what an employee is likely to encounter in his or her day-to-day work, it’s more likely to be effective. Personalisation of learning can reinforce relevance.
7. Re-configure, re-use, re-purpose
Whatever you choose you need to get the maximum mileage out it of it. Content that only has a single use is a costly investment. Look instead for learning content that can be adapted to different devices, platforms and re-purposed as knowledge resources. These should be editable, adaptable and easy to update and maintain,. The recycling of material saves money and aids retention through repetition in different formats and circumstances.
Any budgeting must not only take into account the initial outlay, but also the ongoing costs of maintenance and updating. The flexibility to customise training modules should extend to re-configuring, re-purposing and re-using the content in various environments and across devices. Making sure your investment in resources reaches the widest possible audience is one of the potential economies of scale that e-learning can bring.
Compliance training: the total cost
Creating a compliance training course on a budget needn’t mean compromising quality or effectiveness. In fact, paying attention to cost and making sensible budgeting decisions go hand in hand with determining outcomes and deciding what you need and what works for you.
Rather than accept a pre-packaged, all-embracing solution, look at smaller-scale interventions that have real impact where they count, at the point of need and on the job. Solutions that are bite-size, flexible, adaptable, accessible, re-usable offer the greatest return on investment
And here’s a final comfort for those you contemplating the ifs and buts of compliance training. Whatever the cost to your organisation of providing Compliance training, it’ll never be as costly as not doing so.
About the author
Paul Healy has worked in the learning industry since 2003 in sales, learning consultancy, and programme management. He specialises in assisting companies with change management and innovation agendas.