The history of online compliance training courses
81% of workforces are involved in mandatory compliance training courses each year. From health and safety checks, to securing and protecting data against cyber-attacks, compliance is a broad topic that affects every organisation.
Compliance: the past
Compliance was previously an arduous, paper-based task. Learning and Development teams and HR teams were drowning in paperwork with the yearly compliance training and testing, and it was difficult to track completion rates without manually adding to a spreadsheet.
Leading from this, HR and learning administrators were forced to chase employees to complete their compulsory compliance training – however, this led to negative relationships forming between employees and HR and L&D teams, as simple training programmes are often seen to be patronising; many employees believe compliance matters are ‘common sense’. However, this is irrelevant – undertaking compliance is a legal requirement and pass rates must be met to avoid hefty fines, or even more serious implications, to the business.
Organisations were recognising the reluctance to undertake classroom-based training and tests, and moved the process to online compliance training courses. However, even these were described ‘as ‘laborious’, ‘too long’ and ‘irrelevant’ [so] the organisations had to come up with a new approach’ . Even when online learning tools were bought into play in many organisations, systems were still limiting the potential for learning due to poor user interface, unrelatable content and mindless tasks.
Even with online tools, users were not fully engaging with the content – many were skipping through the training and completing the test until they passed. Indeed, users have described compliance training as ‘too long, unengaging and, at times, not relevant to their role’ . As such, compliance training has often been overlooked by employees.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) provide better rates of engagement with online training courses. Through content being more appealing and the user experience being enhanced for ease of use, employees are more inclined to undertake online training and see it less as a chore. Well-developed training uses gamification to put users into a virtual scenario so that employees can engage fully with possible situations related to compliance issues.
If employees’ engagement rates are boosted, it goes without saying that compliance rates increase. With the increase of training undertaken and understanding developed, the organisation puts itself in better stead during compliance audits. Furthermore, as engagement rates increase, HR teams and L&D teams find themselves not having to ‘chase’ staff to complete their training, therefore reducing learning-related administrative time.
Online compliance training courses and LMSs enhance the monitoring, tracking and reporting process. HR teams and L&D teams can extract information such as completion rates and pass rates at the click of a button, rather than being limited in their extraction of this information manually and track through a self-made spreadsheet. This eliminates the possibility of human error and furthermore reduces administrative time. During compliance audits, this process is made more withstanding as data is immediately available and time sensitive.
How will updated systems help my workforce?
Your LMS may be sufficient for your needs, but an enhanced LMS with user experience at the forefront of its design will assist with your compulsory compliance rates.
With 42% of all online training content used within organisations being compliance-related , online training courses must be sufficient for your users’ needs. User experience and content are crucial to your LMS’s success, but the practicality and necessity of each course to each user should also be considered.
Many employees complain that some compliance courses that they are urged to undertake are ‘not relevant to their role’ , and therefore your employees’ involvement in compliance should be considered to promote better engagement and a positive relationship with compliance.
How will updated systems help my L&D team?
HR teams and L&D teams should consider updating their LMS if they are unsatisfied with their current data capture and extraction systems. An effective LMS will allow backend users to extract data at the click of a button, ensuring that compliance audits can be aided easily and accurately. 96% of companies want to generate meaningful data to measure and improve programme effectiveness  which is only possible with an online compliance training system within an overarching integrated compliance process.
An effective LMS will provide automation features which will reduce administrative tasks – extracting a list of non-completers and manually-written chaser emails will be a thing of the past. Only 77% of staff complete online compliance programmes  which is often below the compulsory rate required. If organisations are unable to prove a sufficient number of staff have completed compliance training, the organisation may face hefty fines – which often exceeds the cost of implementing a LMS. Through automated reminders being sent out through the system, L&D teams can mitigate the risk of non-compliance before it becomes an issue.
Ultimately, organisations should be seeking to drive changes in behaviour from their employees. This can only be accomplished when the online compliance training course is developed to suit your employees’ individual needs and is designed to suit their learning methods – your millennial staff will have different learning requirements to your baby boomer staff.
Through driving this behavioural change, you are encouraging a change in company culture regarding its learning, thereby reducing the time consuming administrative tasks that have historically been linked to compliance.
How do I know if an LMS is suitable for my organisation’s online compliance training?
Keep it simple. Talk to your staff and find out what is working – and not working – with your current system. As they are the ultimate users of the system, they will be able to share insights as to why compliance rates are lower than you would like.
It is worth considering the long-term investment of your LMS. Whilst immediate needs may be for online compliance training courses and increased pass rates, an LMS can be a significant investment. With compliance training generally only being once a year, it is worth choosing a system that is able to incorporate ongoing learning campaigns to make it work harder for you and to continue your employees’ development.
Consider user experience as one of the key features – this could make the difference between users enjoying the experience or undertaking compliance, yet again, as a laborious task. For the most effective online compliance training courses, consider your organisation’s culture. The learning experience will be very different in a quirky start-up software company to that of legal services, so consider what your learners will be most receptive to.
One you have decided on a vendor for your LMS, consider your content. Keep compliance learning short and sharp, and relevant for your organisation. Consider tailored content by applying branding to your courses and communications. Whilst this comes with an increased cost, it can reap the rewards for you as your users are able to put themselves in the training’s scenarios, adding a touch of reality to their training to enhance information retention.
Finally, once the LMS has been implemented, encourage feedback and share this throughout your organisation. This allows for any issues to be ironed out as they arise and reassures your employees that you are acknowledging their concerns.
 Towards Maturity’s ‘8 Tips for Transforming Compliance Training from Tesco’, 9 February 2017
 Towards Maturity’s ‘In-Focus: Solving the Compliance Conundrum’, 14 June 2017
Towards Maturity’s 2016-17 Learning Benchmark Report