Compliance training doesn't have to suck: 5 techniques for 90% learner satisfaction

Even though we all know compliance is a serious issue, we’ve all gone through the motions. Why?

Because compliance is, well, boring. And it can be complex, with super long lessons that make you feel like you didn’t really learn anything.

In fact, there’s a whole subreddit dedicated to hating on compliance training — with 3.7M members!

But we can’t just skip over compliance altogether — we’d be putting too much revenue and reputation on the line. So, how do we make it better?

Stay tuned for five ways we're seeing top teams drive 90% learner satisfaction (with compliance) below.

In this guide, we'll cover: 

  • What is compliance training?

  • 4 common issues with compliance training

  • Our "1-click-compliance-learners-love" playbook

  • Understanding your learners

  • Minimizing friction

  • Pragmatic, immediately useful content

  • Embracing continuous learning

  • Analyze compliance outcomes

What is compliance training?

Compliance training educates employees on company policies, regulations, and legislation. In other words, it’s content that organizations are legally on the hook for teaching their employees.

The idea is that it helps keep employees and customers safe (and reduces the risk of legal action). To that end, compliance topics can include: 

  • Cybersecurity

  • Data protection and privacy

  • Workplace safety

  • Diversity

  • Ethics

  • Anti-harassment

  • Among others

Because there’s a lot at stake, organizations reserve a good chunk of budget for compliance training. Per Training Magazine, 40% of organizations spend over $1,000 on compliance training per employee.

But they may not be investing in the right way. According to eLearning Industry, 40% of companies rate their compliance programs as just basic or reactive. And only 70% of organizations attempt to measure its effectiveness.

Name another program that costs $5M for a 5,000-person company that doesn't track ROI. We’ll wait...

4 Common issues with compliance training 

One reason companies may not be tracking ROI is that there’s not much to track.

While completion rates might be high (courses are mandated), engagement and satisfaction are low. Per Gallup, less than one in four employees (23%) who have participated in a compliance or ethics training session within the past 12 months would rate that training as "excellent." Additionally, the most common course delivery methods suffer from learner net promoter scores well below the average across all software types.

That’s because:

  1. Courses are too long. Miller’s Law notes that the average human mind can only process 7 (plus or minus 2) pieces of information at a time. Most compliance training is hours long (some up to 250!), and no one can possibly pay attention to the whole thing. That means there are likely important concepts they miss.  

  2. Courses are often complex. Technical cybersecurity and data privacy topics are tough to grasp and are usually irrelevant to the learner's job. To get higher engagement, you need to segment your courses for better applicability and understanding.

  3. Content is boring. There’s nothing worse than a monotone voice droning on about password vaults. Plus, most compliance courses are often completed independently, so there’s no reflection or engagement with other people either. Learners tend to skip through lessons just to ace an extra easy quiz. 

  4. It’s hard to practice. Chances to do so are so seldom that learners forget what they’ve learned — and don’t know how to implement it when it counts.

Why is this bad?

It’s a pretty simple answer: non-compliance is costly. Besides expensive and drawn-out lawsuits, non-compliance can cause significant business disruption, reputational damage, and of course, revenue loss.

A single non-compliance event costs companies an average of $4 million in revenue. Somehow the problem just keeps getting worse — even as security incidents continue to rise. As Deloitte puts it,

“Despite decades of experience in developing such practices, the results appear to remain uneven at best, which is especially concerning at a time when risks are increasing.”

How to make compliance training suck less in 5 steps

To avoid non-compliance, you need to make sure learners are learning. Not only that they sit through mandatory trainings, but that they actually retain information and change behavior.

But how do you do that if they already have the perception that compliance training is a boring waste of time? Here are some ways to weave compliance learners love into the fabric of your organization:

Understanding your learners

Typically, compliance takes a one-size-fits-all approach to learning, and that doesn’t work.

Some learners aren’t always close to a desktop or laptop, making it tough to access an LMS or LXP. Even for those that are, it takes an average of 7 clicks alongside a poor learning experience to find LMS content.

Others only have five to ten minutes to spare between meetings, going out into the field, or seeing patients.

To increase adoption, L&D teams must think carefully about a learner’s day-to-day and why compliance training is relevant to their job.

The best way to fold where, when, what, and why into your strategy is to create learner profiles. Segment your learners by department and ask:

  • Why does this training affect them?

  • What are they doing during the day, and when would they have time for learning?

  • What are their motivations, and how can you appeal to them?

  • What kinds of formats would they be most receptive to?

➡️ More on this in our Building an Ideal Learner Journey post.

Minimizing friction

Compliance training shouldn’t happen in multiple tabs with messaging apps and email constantly competing for learners’ attention.

Delivering lessons through applications learners already use, like Teams or Slack, or devices they already use, like their cell phones, boosts engagement and helps people learn in the flow of work.

Making courses short and easy to navigate helps, too. A 7-click task was perceived as 50% more difficult than a task with fewer clicks. And selective sustained attention only lasts for up to 15 minutes. Sending key information in short bursts with limited clicks can improve knowledge retention while increasing the chances of future application.

Pragmatic, immediately useful content

Compliance training often suffers from what’s called the “intention-action gap.” Learners may have every intention of complying with company policies post-training, but when they’re confronted with a situation to apply it a few months later, they simply don’t act.

Part of that comes from not creating the kind of content people actually take and apply. The context is too far removed from learners’ jobs and doesn’t encourage applicability. Making lessons directly relevant to a learner profile increases the potential for action, closing the intention-action gap.

For instance, DuPont Sustainable Solutions (DSS) leveraged short, messaging-based compliance lessons to tie their designer’s work to their goal of becoming a leader in sustainability and safety. Using a microlearning platform like Arist, DSS broke down complex subjects and put them in the context of these employees’ jobs.

Doing so led to ongoing safety question accuracy rates of over 90%.

Embracing continuous learning

Compliance isn’t something you can set and forget. You need to ensure learners retain the information they’ve learned over the long term.

And that takes reinforcement — learners forget more than 70% of information from one-off trainings within 24 hours.

So send nudges to remind them of what they’ve learned or use poor behavior to trigger new lessons or courses that review concepts they’ve already learned. For example, tools like Arist can connect to cybersecurity software that tests users’ ability to detect phishing or social engineering. Wrong answers can launch courses that reinforce learning.

You might also try re-engaging learners with self-reflection writing prompts or pointing them to other relevant pathways to jog their memory and create a positive association with learning.

Analyze compliance outcomes

We know that, broadly, the ROI of compliance training is not measured. It’s more about “just getting it done.”

But the problem with that is learners are paralyzed in moments when they should be springing into action. To truly internalize compliance material, they need to engage with it. And the way to make sure they’re doing that is to measure, analyze, and iterate.

To do that, you need data. One way to get more of it is to increase learner touchpoints. Besides breaking down your courses into more manageable chunks, consider using a tool like Arist to send instant post-learning surveys, reflections, and quizzes.

As you sift through the data, pick up on patterns that can help you optimize the timing of your lessons and follow-ups and refine your content to best fit your ideal learner profiles.

➡️ We save many companies $1,000/yr per learner. See our ROI calculator.

Deliver compliance one text at a time

Traditional compliance training just isn’t cutting it. The courses are too long, too uninteresting, and too unrelated to learners’ job duties to have a lasting impact. And that’s scary, considering how much is on the line.

The unfortunate reality is that compliance training has somewhat had to be this way. With legacy LMS and LXP solutions, meeting learners where they are really hasn’t been possible. Until now.

Arist, a people-first microlearning platform, has been legally approved to deliver compliance training via text message. Each text "lesson" and question set counts as 10 minutes toward your compliance program.

And it actually works. 95% of learners open an Arist lesson within 3 minutes. And overall, the platform boasts a 90% average completion rate and boosts knowledge retention by over 50%. So what are you waiting for?

Learn more about delivering compliance one text at a time by signing up for a demo today.



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Build skills and shift behavior at scale, one behavioral touchpoint at a time.

(617) 468-7900

2261 Market Street #4320
San Francisco, CA 94114

Subscribe to Arist Bites:

Built and designed by Arist team members across the United States.

Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved.

Build skills and shift behavior at scale, one behavioral touchpoint at a time.

(617) 468-7900

2261 Market Street #4320
San Francisco, CA 94114

Subscribe to Arist Bites:

Built and designed by Arist team members across the United States.

Copyright 2024, All Rights Reserved.