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Build an Employee Compliance Training Program That Works

With a heightened priority given to workplace ethics in recent years, solving compliance issues and establishing a training program that actually works is imperative. This online resource delves deeper into steps organizations can take to effect real change.


Training has always been a challenging aspect of any compliance program. Research by Deloitte and Compliance Week found that 41 percent of compliance professionals said that “developing and promoting employee awareness and training programs across compliance risk areas” was one of their top three challenges, trailing only third-party risk management at 47 percent (respondents picked more than one challenge).1

The reality is this: When training content is in place, organizations struggle to realize its full potential. The same Deloitte survey found that for companies that measure compliance effectiveness, 50 percent use the completion of a training course as a benchmark.2 In other words, finish the training, take a quick quiz, and voila, you’re a part of our culture of compliance!

Many compliance officers know that getting from point A to point B is not that simple. An employee can go through training and not understand or even pay attention to what
is being taught—or just not care. Therein lies the struggle: Employees don’t need more compliance training, but rather, better compliance training. Unfortunately, they aren’t getting it. And equally as concerning, compliance leaders aren’t getting the data and insight they could from all of this training.

Building a strong compliance ecosystem is imperative amid this new landscape. This guide will delve deeper into the challenges compliance training programs face, explore how a strategic adaptive approach delivers results beyond completion rates, and chart steps organizations can take to effect real change.

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Building Compliance Training Program eBook Cover

Chapter 1

Challenges That Are Hammering Compliance Training Programs

At most, 1 percent of noncompliant actions are malicious; the rest are bad, sometimes inadvertent decisions that good training should help alleviate. However, delivering effective, meaningful, and compelling compliance training often proves more of
a challenge that many organizations are prepared for. Resources may be an issue, but employees’ attitudes toward training are also problematic. These challenges can stand in the way of an organization getting the most from its compliance program.

Indifferent Employees

The thought of compliance training isn’t exactly appealing to many employees, and some will groan (or, at least, roll their eyes) at the idea. Your workforce may not necessarily be opposed to the concepts behind the training or the compliance mandates necessitating it, but they will likely be annoyed they must take time from their busy days to complete training and sit through a boring course of rules and best practices they feel like they already know well.

Finite Resources

Training is just one part of a compliance team’s responsibilities, and learning departments often devote much of their focus to developing instructional courses and materials as opposed to compliance. Therefore, the resources available to keep compliance training updated and dynamic simply might not be a priority.

"Organizations that see compliance training as a necessary evil rather than as an opportunity are likely to approach it in minimalist fashion, devoting limited resources because they have to."

Person looking at various calendar dates for training

‘Check the Box’

The “check-the-box” mentality toward compliance isn’t just a danger for individual employees; it also is a risk at the management and organizational levels. Companies and departments may be required to provide training, but they aren’t bound by how they provide it. Organizations that see compliance training as a necessary evil rather than as an opportunity are likely to approach it in minimalist fashion, devoting limited resources because they have to. In other words, they also just check the box to say that, yes, they are in compliance.

Little or No Data

Some training programs get information and learning to the employees who can benefit, but have no means to track the interaction with the courses or the long-term effectiveness of the training. Without strong—or any—data, compliance officers are less informed on who is understanding the important concepts delivered in training, who is acing it, and how to determine future strategy. Using data to drive training outcomes is not even on the radar of many organizations, thus wasting a golden opportunity to reduce risk inefficiency and improve results.

Chapter 2

Supercharge Compliance Training with a Super Approach

Too many organizations approach compliance training with the attitude of “We’re deploying this training to employees because regulations require us to; it’s up to them to make the right choices.” Many of these companies then don’t understand why, for example, they get a 99 percent completion rate on sexual harassment training, but still receive dozens or even hundreds of complaints a year. Or they think they are teaching employees smart digital best practices, only to be burned when someone opens a suspicious email. A new approach to compliance training is necessary—one that empowers people to prioritize learning and provides activities, via a more strategic ecosystem, to reinforce that learning.

Build Training Focused on Learning … Not Training

Compliance training should transcend employees just being exposed to something they need to know. The best programs deliver a learning experience that makes a person’s comprehension, skills, and decisions automatic.

Strengthen Muscle Memory

Great training can develop neural pathways—aka muscle memory. Although the term is most often associated with athletes learning a physical skill, a mountain of evidence shows that muscle memory also applies to compliance. A potentially damaging situation presents itself to an employee, who responds with the correct action without thinking twice. The lessons learned in compliance training kick in, and a violation is avoided.

Traditional compliance training often falls short of this muscle memory because it presents facts and rules the user is expected to learn, but doesn’t provide a compelling means to facilitate that learning. If you train employees using “active training” techniques, where they are placed in virtual scenarios and asked to make judgment calls along the way, you spark significantly higher brain activity and learning. This type of training can be gamified or simpler, but the idea is the same. We learn by doing, not simply by watching or reading. Adding real judgment exercises to training makes it stick beyond the course and localizes the situations to the user.  

Go Interactive with Adaptive Training

Adaptive training offers an interactive experience that not only builds the aforementioned muscle memory by engaging the employee in meaningful, uniquely applicable learning, but also adapts and evolves to the needs and responses of the user.

If, for example, someone is struggling with certain compliance concepts during the online training, the adaptive mechanism adjusts the course to present those concepts a different way, or maybe follows up with additional questions featuring real-world scenarios the user can relate to. Alternately, if someone is breezing through the course, adaptive training might respond with tougher questions or advanced concepts. Employees who learn with this adaptive approach don’t come away wondering what their training taught them; they act with confidence and without hesitation.

Build a Program That Is Volcanic with Data

Training presents perhaps the most underused data-gathering opportunity in most organizations today. Think about it: A firm-wide technology is deployed that every employee interacts with … but the only data you are getting is whether or not employees completed the course—that’s a big missed opportunity. Deploying a training program that extracts reams of advanced analytics and gives you insight into behavior trends is the future of training. A proactive, analytical approach to compliance offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Measuring immediate effectiveness: Compliance officers who come away from training often think, “I hope that went well.” With analytics, you can quickly determine how well it went and decide next steps (as part of a greater compliance training ecosystem—more on this soon) for both successful and struggling users—if the course hasn’t done that already.
  • Predicting weak spots: Hindsight data, which we’ve already alluded to, identifies compliance weaknesses only after something bad has happened and the training was instituted as a countermeasure. Proactive data better ascertains who might struggle so you can shore up their training with follow-up training and more focused content. Instead of using hindsight data to determine who was putting you most at risk, gather and maximize proactive data to predict who might present that risk in the future.
  • Building long-term strategy: All the data gained from every training session gives you insight into the process. How long users spent in a course, how they answered quiz questions, how they interacted with more experiential parts of the training, how they rated the training afterward—this accumulated data, easily compiled from the best software solutions, can drive future steps, whether those steps are taken next week, next year, or next decade. Moreover, analyzing this data over time offers better predictive capabilities on how a new strategy might or might not work, as well as benchmarks in relation to other companies both inside and outside their industry.

"Adaptive training offers an interactive experience that not only builds the aforementioned muscle memory by engaging the employee in meaningful, uniquely applicable learning, but also adapts and evolves to the needs and responses of the user."

Measure Adapt and Protect Pie Graph

Think of your Compliance Program an Ecosystem

Analytics and muscle memory are incredible results of adaptive, data-driven compliance training, but ultimately, how employees engage in, absorb, and benefit from the program matters most in gauging effectiveness. People who are presented with real-world compliance situations, applicable to their everyday responsibilities, during training are more likely to take ownership of their learning.

That said, don’t limit the learning to just the formal courses on their own. Such training is powerful, but its impact multiplies when combined with other strategies. Develop and implement a greater training ecosystem that employs additional channels that supplement, complement, and maximize each other—as well as strengthen your data. Some parts of your ecosystem may include:

  • Micro learning: Standard online compliance training courses may include quizzes, slides, and concepts of varying length. Micro learning incorporates these tools in a shorter, quicker, but just as impactful format. Employees are sent interactive content, such as a brief video and/or few relevant follow-up quiz questions, that introduce or reinforce concepts—often determined by the individual and company data learned from the previous training courses and micro learning.
  • Entertaining video: Explainer videos can present a concept quickly and with a visual element, but for a lasting impact, humorous shorts performed by real actors deliver a great teaching experience that people remember. RealBiz Shorts (a strategic partner of True Office Learning) is an expert in this kind of training, combining important concepts with an improv philosophy that provides learning and laughs.
  • Digital toolkits: After online training ends, even if it was wildly effective (again, data can point the way on results), employees may still need to fall back on other resources to confirm their compliance instincts. Digital toolkits (such as those offered by Broadcat, another True Office strategic partner) operationalize compliance so that people have the information they need, when they need it, in their day-to-day jobs. Elements of the toolkits can include infographics, flow charts, checklists, and more—everything someone needs to make the right decision.

Chapter 3

The Compliance Transformation

Many organizations and their compliance and learning professionals crave this comprehensive, experiential strategy, and employees prefer it to the uninspired training they encounter and somewhat dread—but they don’t know the way there. Transforming compliance training requires a bit of vision, but the effort is well worth it.

Essentials of a Strategic Compliance Training Ecosystem

Building a strategic compliance training ecosystem offers a welcome departure from what your employees have become accustomed to over the course of their careers. It’s just as powerful as in-person, one-on-one training, but can be achieved with fewer resources and more efficiency.

For a strong training program to achieve maximum results, it must include three things:

  • Relevance: Training must appeal to an employee’s everyday experience for it to engage the user. A rote review of rules and definitions may fail to rise above check-the-box and be forgotten or dismissed as soon as the training ends. Relevant training focuses on skill building, practice, and personalization.
  • Respect: Training must engage employees as valued participants so that they see it as essential to not only their personal success, but also the success of the entire organization. The program should never talk down to workers but, instead, acknowledge their important roles and contributions in achieving compliance.
  • Agency: Training should put employees in the driver’s seat rather than relegate them to along-for-the-ride passenger status. When given agency, people become responsible for learning and applying compliance principles on top of just being compliant. In this way, they take command of their own outcomes by building upon what they’ve learned during training.

"Great data shows not only who is training, but also how they’re training."

Person review Courses Covered

Embrace the Data

The application of data into compliance training strategies—particularly adaptive training strategies—truly elevates your program to the next level. Organizations that never considered extracting data from their compliance training or pulled minimal statistics (such as percentage of employees who complete the training) are amazed at what they can learn from the numbers.

Great data shows not only who is training, but also how they’re training. For example, beyond a completion rate, the numbers reveal, say, five areas where those who completed the training struggled. Engagement is measured—and because the training is adaptive, there are plenty more opportunities for employees to be engaged.


The compliance stakes are higher for organizations today. More eyes are on businesses to act morally and ethically; more regulations and best practices are in place on the back end that must be followed. 

Compliance training programs have struggled to keep up with today’s realities, and employees are still apt to “successfully” complete training courses and not actually learn what they need to know. A fully adaptive, technology-enabled training ecosystem can be the answer to delivering compliance knowledge and learning that builds muscle memory and provides data that compliance teams need to chart strategy. True Office Learning is the perfect partner to provide that learning to your organization.

True Office Learning is a leading enterprise education and analytics company that connects e-learning to advanced behavioral data through an adaptive technology platform to drive results. Our cloud-based software provides organizational insights that were previously immeasurable, thus enabling organizations to ensure learning, analyze efficacy, and drive better business outcomes. Benefits of the True Office Learning solution include:

  • Increased retention through learn-by-doing activities.
  • Decreased seat time with stronger results, which increases ROI.
  • Expert-designed compliance courses designed to measure and benchmark employee behavior.
  • Comprehensive data insights.
  • Deployment through any LMS.
True Office Learning brings more than two decades of experience and innovation to the e-learning space and is trusted by more than 6 million learners. We are dedicated to helping our clients meet their compliance training goals. Visit to learn more or to request a personalized demo.
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