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Compliance Best Practice Guide

Compliance training is a must, yet it seems to be a tricky area
that many companies struggle with. A course is created with
a purposeful intent, but learners dont always care about that
intent, especially when it is delivered in a mundane way. They
zone out, go through the motions and move on to the next task
of the day. Its as if your learning never happened. The only proof
you have is that check in the box.

Earlier this year, we developed a global survey in partnership

with Elearning Industry to analyse compliance training and
communication trends in corporates. The responses indicate we
have quite a bit of blah, scraping by, and just ok learning.
We can do better and learners deserve more than mindless

In this guide, well discuss how to make compliance elearning

more palatable, exciting, and memorable through some simple
but highly effective design tips and techniques.


ost employees typically dont

embrace their compliance
training with open arms. And thats
putting it mildly. In fact, most
employees do their best to avoid it or
find ways to suffer through it. Perhaps
the answers to your latest compliance
elearning quiz are posted on the break
room refrigerator so that everyone can
get through it as quickly as possible.
Why the lack of love? Various reasons
ranging from lack-luster design to poor
communication programs and followup campaigns, to the fact that they
are almost always mandatory and
we know everyone hates mandatory!
When you have to take it, most of us
just start to squirm. Generally, we dont
enjoy being told that we have to do
something, especially if we dont see
the relevance.
Compliance training may not ever be
loved by people, but theres a lot you
can do to make sure its not painful,
and actually does what its supposed to:
reduce risk.
According to LRNs 2013 Ethics
& Compliance Leadership Survey
Report, 60% of respondents identify
Online Education Fatigue as their
top challenge.

Kineo 2014 Compliance Training & Communication Survey

This past spring, we conducted a global compliance and communication survey.
We asked: How would you rate the effectiveness of your compliance learning
programs? Responses included:
6.6% Not Effective
27.9% Ok, but needs improvement

Where we are

38.5% Meets Standards

23.8% Above Average
3.3% Very Effective

Where we want to be

So whats the issue?

Every day were inundated with
information. From the moment we start
our days, we have to answer emails,
review information and complete all the
various tasks associated with our jobs.
Its definitely a challenge to keep track
of it all. On top of all that, we are told
that we have to do compliance training.
Arent we already busy enough and
overwhelmed with the everyday flurry of
activities without you wanting us to do
something that, frankly, just feels like a
waste of time?
These days, employees are suffering
from learning fatigue. According
to LRNs 2013 Ethics & Compliance
Leadership Survey Report, 60% of
respondents identify Online Education
Fatigue as their top challenge. Thats
a lot of sleeping learners! Either that

Right in
just ok and

or theyre busy multi-tasking: writing

an email, talking on the phone, and
checking Facebook all at the same time.
Sound familiar? These days, we have a
lot of competition for peoples attention.
However, compliance training still
has to get done and there must be a
good reason to do it. Lets face it; there
wouldnt be thousands of hours of
elearning on compliance topics if there
werent good reasons for it.
One of the main reasons that
organisations develop training is to
meet compliance regulations and
legal requirements. Lets be honest,
organisations really do need to tick off
a lot of boxes. Compliance training is
essential and seldom done effectively
by more traditional methods, especially
if you have to hit the entire population
at once by a critical date.


efore you get started designing

your compliance training
programme, take the time to sit with
whoever is in charge of compliance/risk
reduction and discuss their intentions.
This critical step so often skipped
will allow you to define just how you will
measure your results, help you produce
an appropriate plan, let you formulate
Q&A, and ultimately drive the design of
your compliance elearning module.
To make the creation process seamless
and reduce the risk of error, be sure to
ask them these questions:
What is the risk?
Why is this important now? Whats
changed from how we were doing
things yesterday?
Are we already beyond risk and in
trouble? What can we do about that
(which may have nothing to do with
training, but that shouldnt stop you
from trying to help)?
What are the consequences? How
likely are they? What will they cost
us? What will be the consequences
for everyone concerned?
What happens if we do nothing
(compared to the cost of the
potential consequences)?
Who needs to do something
differently? What exactly do they
need to stop/start/do differently?

What are the mistakes that were

making that we dont realise? Why
are they mistakes?
How will we know weve reduced the
risk? (Again, not something that a
training intervention could hope to
answer on its own, but you need to
be part of the solution)
Who should people talk to if theyre
unclear about what to do?

You and your internal customers

should be in complete agreement on
the answers to all of these questions:
Complete them before you begin
discussing how the training will work.
Quick Tip: If you can get the answers
to these questions, you have every
chance of following through with a
solution that addresses the intent. As
leaders in the industry, our advice is
not to move on until you have these
questions answered.

This critical step will ultimately drive the design of your

compliance elearning module.


n our 2014 Compliance Training &

Communication Survey, we asked:
How would you like to improve your
compliance programs?
76.6% responded: More engaging
design and content.
Clearly, this is an area many struggle
with. Compliance has a negative
reputation to begin with and then its
perpetuated by bad design and snoozeworthy content. So, how can we make
compliance elearning more engaging?
Whether were taking an elearning
or a more multi-channel approach to
compliance training, there are design
ideas that we should consider including.
We may not be able to include every tip
in every design, but if you can throw in
a few good ideas you might just have a
hit on your hands.
Additionally, by this time in the process,
you and your internal customer should
be very clear on the core intentions;
your design approach should flow from
Lets look at some tips for creating more
engaging content and some elearning
examples that will help you see those
principles applied.

Begin with a compelling story

We all love a good story. Stories invite
us in and get us interested. With
creativity, learning can mimic a good
story. Rather than having a plain screen
with questions, make the content
interactive and engaging giving your
learners opportunities to participate.
The most effective stories are chewed
contextual, realistic, unusual, concrete,
human, easily accepted and discoveryoriented.
Quick tip: Begin with the end in mind.
What is your ultimate goal for telling
this story? Have a vision and develop
smaller stories to complement the

you get away with it? What would

happen? Could you lose your job? All
risks have consequences and creating
a course that capitalises on those
mistakes makes the content stickier
and impactful. And like a good
drama, it adds intrigue to the story.
Develop characters with corresponding
narratives that will resonate with your
learners. The stories should incorporate
situations that the learner might face on
the job in real life.
The best way to show how risks and
consequences can play out is through
example. Theres a natural narrative

Develop characters with corresponding narratives that

will resonate with your learners. The stories should
incorporate situations that the learner might face on the
job in real life.
Lets talk about what makes a story

Create relevant consequences

and scenarios
Cause and effect. What would
happen if you took a risk and skipped
a critical step in a process? Could

to showing how doing/not doing

something exposes a company to a risk
as well as the fallout and consequences
for the company and the individual.
Scenarios following this type of narrative
embed in the memory far better than a
presentation of straight facts. Make the

best use of that narrative by creating

simple storylines for your module.
Quick tip: Be sure to make the
consequences relevant and realistic.
As soon as someone is forced to look
at something and can legitimately say,
I would never be in this situation,
youve lost credibility and youve
wasted their time.
Create distinct consequences for
different job types. Get the learner to
successfully understand the material
and appropriately comprehend the
consequences of not knowing. This also
keeps the learner engaged; making it
more memorable, which is the main
If you can source true stories from your
organisation, then great, but we advise
against using real names. Taking risks
like indicating this happened last
week is about as far as you can and
should go on a personal level when
referring to organisation examples.
If you dont have examples from your
organisation, you can construct stories,
either from profiled cases in the public
domain, or through scripting simple

The top three narratives in

compliance elearning take
these formats:
1. Self-contained case studies:
A one or two screen exposition that
typically follows the flow of:
Context: this person was in this
Action: they did / didnt do X
Consequences: impact on the firm
the customer, and them
Reflection: what they should have
done to reduce the risk and avoid
the consequences
These can work well for overall context
setting and to emphasise key points of
risk throughout a module. The screen
shown earlier is a truncated version of
2. Episodic case study:
Where a module has a more involved
set of steps, you could construct a case
study that learners return to as the
module progresses.
For example, if theres a three step
process for compliance, you could have
case studies in the context of each
process, updating the story with each

3. Expert story:
Get your SME involved by sharing
their stories and experiences. You
could record their stories with audio or
video. We have clients shooting great
footage on their iPhones. The cost for
capturing authentic voices is nothing
like it used to be. Real people sharing
real experiences provides credibility and
authenticity that will get people paying
And dont feel the need to include
endless numbers or anecdotes focus
on the key risks that youre trying to
communicate and ensure that the
stories are tightly constructed and
support your overall intention.
Quick Tip: Scenarios dont have to be
media driven to be immersive they
just need to be plausible and wellconstructed to make the decision
points sufficiently challenging. All the
effort is in the scripting. Make sure
the elearning stands up to scrutiny,
and push your SMEs hard to help
create realistic, challenging scenarios
and questions. Take a look at the
example below:
Here the learner is taken through a
short scenario and then presented with
decision points.

Shorten and sharpen

Hook them from the beginning. Your
elearning should be sharp, short, and
memorable. Structure your compliance
course around your key message. Dont
inundate your learners with unnecessary
content. Stay focused on your intention
for creating the course. It will help you
stay on track putting the most crucial
information at the forefront.

Make every screen count

Less really is more. Make it bite-sized.

The last thing your busy employees
want to do is to take another lengthy
course. Most people will mentally check
out and run through the course not
absorbing a thing. Consider cutting up
your course into shorter courses think
courselet. If you stay short, sharp, and
memorable you will be right on target.

Quick tip: It is easy to lose sight of

this when designing your training.
Organie your training by keeping
your message to three or four main
points to give learners a chance to
remember your message.

Condensing your course into bitesize nuggets will force you to look at
the content with a more critical eye.
Every screen, every point, every word
should have a reason for its existence.
Put yourself in the learners shoes. Ask
yourself, Is this content filler or truly

Think about what is easier to remember;

reading a question and marking the
right answer, or being fully engaged
while watching a story unfold in front
of your eyes and then helping the main
character choose the right path forward.
I bet you chose the second option.

Quick tip: Design for multiple

devices. Make your content easily
viewable. Consider making your
compliance content accessible via
multi-device so it is easy to access
on the go. And because youre
creating short nuggets of content
rather than long courses, it will be
easy to digest when employees
are on the move.

Learn more at:
Remember: It isnt the length of the
course that makes it impactful, its the
content and the way it resonates with
the learner.

Make the learners role clear and provide a clear call to action
The most important aspect of any
compliance elearning is proving that
people actually know what they need to
do in the real world after they finish the
training program. Help them see how
they can take this information back to
their jobs, what they should look out for,
and how they should change their own
Design your course so that people have
a clear sense of what they need to do
in order to reduce risk for the company
and for themselves. Be sure to make
what needs to be done very explicit,
not just in the policy. The learner should
understand his/her responsibility and
take into consideration what needs to
be done to reduce risk. The learners
role cant be about simple recall of
facts that will fade away from short term
memory within minutes. It must involve
putting those facts into practice.

Quick Tip: Assessment is going to

be the backbone of your compliance
approach. More than anything, you
want people to be able to show they
get it. Design an assessment that
you and your internal customers
agree is tough enough; meaning
you really need to know what to do
and how to do it. Then give people
complete control over when they do
that assessment. You dont want to
force people through some screen
by screen, locked-down piece of
learning. Make it relevant, sharp,
interactive and new.

So, what can elearning bring

to compliance training?
It can convey key messages with
pacing and tone; if well designed
it can break down a complex set of
risks and build up a clear picture
point by point
It brings consistency where a
webinar or cascaded model of
delivery may not
It can be more engaging than
a passive document or one-way
video or audio piece through a
combination of different interactions
and uses of media

The learners role cant be about simple recall of facts

that will fade away from short term memory within
minutes. It must involve putting those facts into practice.

It can introduce challenge through

well structured, searching questions
that require intelligent response
It can be personalised by giving
users some choice and possibly
some recommended pathways
through the content depending on
who they are and what they need to
Most importantly in a compliance
context: It can give you proof.
Dissemination of documents,
audio overviews are good at giving
context, but theyre one way
traffic. Assessment (and tracking of
elearning via an LMS) simply proves
that people have done something.
Yes its true; you cannot force people
to learn. But you can design an
assessment that challenges people
and gives you a stronger basis to
measure what is working and whats
not. You can call that a cover your
backside strategy. But when the
regulatory authorities come knocking
to see how effectively youve
reduced risk, you know that is what
they will look for.
Elearning doesnt have to be the highend option either. With more rapid
tools like Articulate Storyline currently
being used in organisations, creating a
short focused elearning course does not
have to break your budget.


Lastly, compliance training

doesnt stop on the screen.
If youre aiming for lasting behavior
change, it helps to provide a continuous
learning experience. Most of us dont
change our behaviors after one viewing
of a commercial or reading one news
story: Behavior change takes time.
Advertisers know this well and its why
organisations are willing to spend so
much on marketing.
Start thinking more like an ad agency.
Design programs that communicate
consistent and clear messages through
a variety of channels on a regular
basis. Even if your learners have taken
your elearning, let them see the key
themes and messages throughout their
day in the form of posters, and email
reminders, and links to short video that
reinforce what needs to happen. Lather,
rinse, repeat. Reinforce, repeat, remind.
Compliance communication campaigns
are crucial to long-term success that
goes beyond box-ticking. However,
sending an email every couple months
hardly constitutes as a campaign, so be
honest with yourself here. Are you really
delivering a thoughtful campaign? Also,
what incentives do employees have for
paying attention?

In our 2014 Compliance Training &

Communication Survey:
61.4% responded yes to having a
compliance communication program
in addition to training.
81.3% selected emails as one
of the top tools for delivering
compliance communication.
Other top tools included: Webinars,
Videos and Posters

Though, email appears to be a popular

delivery method, it may not be the
best. Be sure to measure open and click
rates. Have a call to action and make
it voluntary to see who is really paying
If you are sensing that one particular
communication channel is being
overused or getting stale, consider new
tools or experiences to mix it up. Better
to adapt than to continue delivering
content to a disengaged audience, or,
worse yet, a non-existent one. Get a
clear understanding of your employees
and their preferences. Are they more
likely to respond to an email, a meeting
announcement, a lunch & learn, a
poster in the hallway, a competition? Be
proactive in understanding what they
are most responsive to.


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