Very often it seems that the tone of compliance training is about what the company needs from you. Whereas, perhaps it would be more effective to say ‘This is a life skill that will help you, wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you’re with’.

There’s a lot of compliance training around, and in general it isn’t well liked.

It’s often quite tedious, has too much information and isn’t presented particularly well. A lot of people treat it a bit like going to the dentist’s, they don’t like it but they know they have to do it.

However, whereas we might appreciate that going to the dentist’s is good for us in the long run, we don’t always feel that way about compliance training.

One of the problems is that many people see it as something which is not relevant, or of little value.

Let’s make it relevant by setting the learning content within the organisation.

One of the commonly used strategies to make training appear to be relevant is to make it seem as though it’s based in the workplace.

If it’s in a particular company’s workplace then logos, company branding, people wearing company uniforms or ties and so on are used within the elearning.

You can also refer to particular departments and policies, but there’s always a danger that these will go out of date and need extra work to keep them relevant in the future.

It costs quite a lot to customise the content in this way and personally, it’s never added anything for me.

Another issue with this approach is the organisations rarely, if ever, want to present the possibility that something untoward could happen in their workplace. For example, if you wanted to show a scenario where someone was being bullied or harassed, they wouldn’t want it to appear as though it had happened in their organisation.

So let’s make it fun!

This is a tricky one. Although it sounds like a good idea, and can be, it’s also very difficult to pull off.

Humour can vary between people and cultures, and often topics don’t lend themselves to being used as a vehicle for humour. I was pulled up on this once, when I wrote a little joke into a money laundering course. The SME said that laundered money is often used for terrorism, drug smuggling, prostitution and modern slavery – is this something that we want to make light of? Well, for me no. But I have seen some toe curling attempts.

The type of humour I like in elearning is the type that if no one gets it, it doesn’t matter. An example of this is from our Emotional Intelligence video. The video is based round a young man, Eddie, who starts off as Teddy Boy (Rocker, Black Jacket) and learns about emotional intelligence the hard way.

While explaining the four areas/dimensions of emotional intelligence we used mocked up film posters from famous films. Well the films are a little dated, but whether or not the films are recognised, or if anyone sees any humour in any of them, doesn’t really matter as it’s not essential to the points being made. Can you recognise the films?

four images from emotional intelligence vide
Rocky, When Harry Met Sally, Top Gun, Any Given Sunday (great motivational speech)

Ok so why don’t we sugar coat it?

A spoonful of sugar helps the compliance training go down, right?

Again, you can see the idea behind this but I don’t think it really works. I hear a lot of people talking about it, and how they use things like games, but I’m not convinced.

You never hear real learners saying that this has helped them – not without being prompted anyway, and the people who say it’s great never seem to have learnt anything this way. It’s a good question to ask if you’re talking to a vendor, “So what have you learnt from using this?”. I’ve not had one person come up with anything yet.

Don’t get me wrong. Learning games can be great, but they’re usually best when they’re dealing with discrete points of learning, not broad ideas. Simulations are a different thing altogether. In our view, there’s massive scope for great simulations in elearning, but, in general, we’re not there yet – that’s for another blog.

But what about this?

If you look at a lot of compliance topics, they’re nearly all applicable to our personal lives.

For example, health and safety is about keeping ourselves and colleagues safe, but what we learn will also help to keep our family and friends safe e.g. knowing what to do in case of a fire.

Getting into good information security habits such as using strong passwords, is just as important at home as it is at work. Do you have a member in your family who isn’t too internet savvy and could do with some help keeping them safe on the internet?

Data protection is about personal information so it’s as much about what company’s do with our data, and what our rights are as it as about how you might handle other people’s personal data.

What about if you were being discriminated against or harassed outside of work – it’s the same legislation which protects you.

Ransomware is a massive problem at the moment. It’s not only large companies being hit, but individuals too. Often these are instigated initially through phishing emails.

So doesn’t it make sense to create training that goes beyond the workplace?

This is our YouTube version of our Ransomware (and how to prevent it) video.

Very often it seems that the tone of compliance training is about what the company needs from you. Whereas, perhaps in some cases it would be more effective to say ‘This is a life skill that will help you, wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you’re with’.