A few years ago, my team and I were conducting a round of user (learner) interviews about the digital learning experience at Capital One. During one of our interviews, a participant looked up at me and said, "Thanks for making compliance training humane."
For many financial institutions, upwards of half of all trainings in the company are related to regulation. At the same time, even most L&D professionals hate taking our own compliance training just as much as our learners do, right? Compliance training often feels like it's the black hole of the learner experience. Somewhere along the way, we in L&D started to buy into the belief that compliance training had to play to the least common denominator. To keep regulators happy, we (compliance departments at many financial institutions) agreed to put together training around nearly every major policy and law; and because of the scale of that need, we have settled on the quality of that experience. It's often not engaging, not visually appealing, and sometimes not even relevant to the audience consuming the content. We're not caring for the learner experience in courses where our learners often need to be most engaged to help avoid risk.
Over time, I've come to believe that if compliance training is one of the most common or largest chunks of content you deliver to your employees, there's no greater place to make a statement about the learner/employee experience you want to create. In this instance, the user research participant in our interview was talking about our use of assessments at the beginning of many of our annual compliance courses to allow users to test out by demonstrating their understanding of our policies. While there was a joking tone to her statement, taking the inverse of what she said meant that she had considered much of our compliance training to be "inhumane" up to that point.
While we started with a very small number of courses and the ability to either test out of an entire course or be forced to complete it based on test results, we evolved to a larger set of courses and assessments with variables to tie the parts of the course the learner needed with the area of the exam they tested poorly in. It wasn’t easy, but we learned and got better. There are entire platforms out there right now that allow you to do this same kind of work, but chances are your existing e-learning development tools can allow you to do this now if you'll go after it.
Here's the beauty of this approach—not only does this create a more humane/human experience by dynamically assigning topics within a course to the learner only if they don't have the requisite knowledge, it also gives you as an organization the ability to track where the most risks are for your organization. Compliance is a very large investment for heavily regulated industries (as it should be), but it doesn't have to be a shotgun approach of heavy-handed policies, safeguards, and training in all areas. L&D can actually provide your organization and the business partners some insights on where their risks are by examining question-level detail to see trends in a lack of understanding of a particular part of a policy or practice required of your employees. The results of focusing on the learner experience here can pay off for everyone:
- Your employees might just thank you that what used to take them 30 minutes to complete now takes them only 10.
- The business could now thank you that the time in compliance training and "off the floor" (sometimes upwards of 20 hours per year for some companies) could drop in half.
- Your risk/compliance organization could now thank you for helping them identify where a lack of understanding could be causing risks to your company.
This could all happen because you believed that focusing on the learner experience and being innovative even in something like compliance could make things better for learners.
There is no "silver bullet" to fix compliance training overnight; but choosing to innovate in the place where users are desperate for a better experience—and where your organization is desperate to do right by your regulators—could pay dividends in your standing with the business and your employees. Don't miss the opportunity to make compliance training a better experience and a hotbed of innovation in your organization. If you ignore the experience, it’s certainly not going to get better.
Learn more about compliance training directly from Matthew at the ATD TDI conference.