Regulation is coming: How to maintain compliance on the frontline

Posted on: May 15, 2020Updated on: November 29, 2023By: JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

How good was your business at keeping up with regulatory training before the pandemic?

Compliance is the world’s least fun game of hide and seek in most organizations.

  1. Regulations change
  2. The Compliance and Legal teams determine training requirements, aligning with federal regulations
  3. L&D builds and deploys training for frontline employees
  4. No one completes the training by the deadline
  5. L&D sends a delinquency report to managers
  6. Managers chase down everyone to complete the training
  7. Boxes are finally checked but on-the-job behavior doesn’t actually change
  8. Rinse and repeat

Sound familiar?

Many compliance programs took a back seat during the early days of the pandemic as businesses did whatever it took to keep employees and customers safe. Both frontline and corporate employees were forced to rethink how to do their jobs along the way. But just because we haven’t talked about it as much doesn’t mean compliance requirements have gone away.

Now, as companies settle into a new reality of work, they must find more agile ways to manage compliance training. Boxes still need to get checked, but true risk mitigation comes from making sure employees have the knowledge and confidence needed to make the right decisions on the job every day.

Two business men looking at a laptop

Here are five steps you can take to modernize your compliance training strategy and banish the boring.

1. Clarify the requirement

What does the regulation really say about employee training? Companies are risk averse by nature. So, Compliance and Legal tend to pile extra requirements onto the actual external regulation. (Call it an “Oops buffer.”) If you don’t hit the internal requirement, you still probably met the external one. Unfortunately, this buffer is what leads to boring compliance courses jam-packed with information that no one will actually remember.

Some regulations will still require employees to complete long, boring courses. But you can make them the exception rather than the rule. Work with your Legal and Compliance partners to understand the actual requirements for employee training. Help them understand the range of options you have for reliably and consistently meeting these standards so they don’t have to “augment” regulations unnecessarily. Remember—practices like microlearning probably weren’t commonplace when the regulations were first established. A long, boring course may have been the only option at the time. But that’s not the case anymore.

2. Build a right-fit solution

Once you clarify the real compliance requirement, build a solution that fits your employees’ actual needs. People are busy. Businesses are short-staffed. And no one has time to finish a long course, especially if it’s not clearly going to help them do their job better. The best way to make your compliance training fit is to ensure it focuses on the right things. This is why a results-focused approach is critical when designing any compliance topic.

Diagram of the steps involved in a results-focused approach: determine the right-fit solution, define the knowledge required to execute the expected behavior, define the observable behavior required to achieve the result, and agree on a clear, measurable business result

Could you cover all required information in a short video? Could employees just read the new policy update and download a job aid? Could you assess people’s existing knowledge and let them skip the need for new training altogether? Build a simple, nondisruptive solution that focuses on what employees actually need to know/do in a way they can consume quickly and easily.

3. Embed training into the flow of work

Your employees have an annual compliance refresher due next week. But they also have to complete training for the new product release. Plus there’s a new safety update to review. Oh—and they have to do their everyday jobs, too. Your business is already running lean, and people are struggling to get essential work done. Is it any wonder that compliance training gets pushed aside so often?

Make missed deadlines a thing of the past by embedding training into the everyday workflow. Use the few minutes people have available each day to provide personalized training sessions and practice activities. Then, when it’s time to check the compliance box, serve it up in a microlearning format that can be completed over the course of a few daily sessions. This way, you don’t have to chase people down to complete training and employees don’t have to click NEXT over and over during one sitting.

4. Reinforce critical behaviours

There’s a reason compliance training is required. It may be packed with legal jargon and seemingly irrelevant details, but there are still rules within that people have to follow to avoid putting the business at risk. You have to make sure employees remember this critical information and, more importantly, know how to apply it on the job.

The answer: reinforcement. People won’t change how they do their jobs just because they completed a compliance course. They need to be reminded about the importance of this information and how it relates to their everyday work. By using questions and scenarios that challenge advisors to make everyday decisions with compliance concepts in mind, you can make sure they’re ready to apply what they’ve learned, even if it’s months or years after the initial training.

5. Report meaningful results

Reporting is an essential part of compliance training. If a regulator receives complaints or is conducting an audit, you must be ready to show that employees are up to date on the latest requirements. Typically, this means course completions, certifications and maybe a few test scores. But does this data actually prove that employees know what to do on the job in the moment of need? No.

You’ll still need to report on content consumption. A modern approach will help you check those boxes more quickly than ever, without any extra administration. Adding daily reinforcement will also provide you with more timely, actionable data. Rather than just relying on evidence of when someone completed the training, you’ll have proof of what they know right now and how their knowledge has changed over time. This data can be used to power advanced reporting, including learning impact measurement, as well as highly personalized, adaptive learning.

Regulation will never go away and is likely to become more complex with each passing year. In order to keep up, a modern approach to compliance training must be a cornerstone of your business strategy. Otherwise, you’ll keep chasing people around to complete courses and waste your valuable L&D resources on checking boxes.

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect's Headshot

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

Read More by JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect