Regulation is coming: How to maintain compliance on the frontline

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
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. Rinse and repeat

Sound familiar?

Now, the pandemic is adding even more complexity to this convoluted process. Organizations are focused on what has to get done in order to keep the doors open (physically or virtually) while keeping customers and employees safe. In many cases, this means existing compliance training has taken a back seat. Plus, pandemic-related health and safety challenges will lead to new and enhanced compliance requirementsespecially in the service industry. 

How will you catch up with overdue compliance training across hundreds or thousands of frontline employees? And how will you handle new and updated compliance requirements as part of your company’s next normal?

A modern approach to compliance training isn’t just about checking boxes. Yes, you still need to check the boxes. But you also need to mitigate real risks to your business and help employees make real-world decisions that will keep themselves and your customers safe. 


Here are five steps you can take to modernize your compliance training strategy.

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 “oooops 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. They may be under the impression that a “long boring course” is the only option for meeting the requirement. But that’s not the case.

2. Build a right-fit solution

Once you clarify the real compliance requirement, build a solution that fits your employees’ actual needs. People won’t have time to complete a long list of compliance courses. Focus on the desired outcome and what people will be expected to do on the job as related to the regulation. Then, work backwards (right to left) to determine the right-fit solution.

Could you cover all required information in a short video? Could employees just read the new policy 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 may have dozens of overdue compliance topics by the time your business finds its next normal. That’s in addition to new requirements added by your partners and regulators. At the same time, operations will be running lean. Employees will be adjusting to new processes as they try to stay safe and productive. You’re not going to be able to remove them from the operation to complete compliance training.

Learning should be part of the everyday working experience. Compliance training should fit into this everyday learning approach. Employees won’t have hours at a time to spare, but they will have a few minutes before their shift or after a break. Right-fit solutions, including short videos, assessments and job aids, can easily fit into these windows of availability. Long courses can be broken down into smaller chunks to allow for episodic consumption over time. By embedding learning into the daily workflow, you’ll eliminate the need to chase people down to complete their compliance training.

4. Reinforce critical behaviours

There’s a reason employees are required to complete compliance training. Most traditional compliance courses are packed with a combination of “fluff” and “what ifs.” But there’s something important in theresome piece of information they’ll need to make the right decision or behave in a specific way on the job. But how will employees find the critical need-to-know information buried under a pile of nice-to-know fluff?

The answer: reinforcement. People won’t change their behavior just because you told them to, especially if they’ve developed habits during lengthy careers. Ongoing reinforcement separates the need-to-know from the nice-to-know and contextualizes new information so it can be applied on the job. These activities, including question-based learning and coaching, can easily fit into the few minutes frontline employees have available in their day. Rather than asking employees to memorize regulatory information, challenge their ability to apply the most actionable details in real-world situations.

5. Report meaningful results

Reporting is an essential part of compliance training. If a regulator stops by, you must be ready to show that employees are up to date on the latest requirements. Typically, this means course completions 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. In fact, this global public health crisis will likely result in added  regulations, making it more complicated for the foreseeable future. In order to keep up, a modern approach to compliance training must be a cornerstone of your frontline resilience strategy. Otherwise, you’ll keep chasing people around to complete courses and waste your valuable L&D resources on checking boxes.


Visit Your blueprint for building a resilient frontline workforce to learn more about each topic and watch the playlist (or playlists) that’s right for you!

Be safe. Be well. And be kind to the frontline.

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.

Let’s work together to drive frontline performance in all the right ways.