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Compliance elearning that works — The people paradox

Blog posts | 05.10.2021

Compliance elearning

Helping you find your North Star

Pleasing all your stakeholders is a balancing act. So how do you ensure all their conflicting needs are met?

Article no. 2 of 10 - The Kineo view on: Compliance elearning


We all have a vested interest in the effectiveness of compliance-based learning. After all, we all want to work within a safe, ethical company culture that we’re proud to be a part of. And what about our families and loved ones? Don’t we have the right to go safely home to them at the end of every day?

What about the emergency services? Don’t we have a duty to protect them from unnecessary incidents where we can? Or an obligation to prevent costly, time consuming fraud investigations, both for our organisations and the community at large? Fighting economic crime in the public sector costs the government an estimated £29 to £52 billion a year: money which could be spent on vital public services that citizens rely on.

There are many viewpoints to consider, but let’s ringfence our discussion to those most of us consider on a daily basis: the learner, the business, the policy owners, L&D and of course, the regulators. How do their pain points differ and converge?  How do we keep them all happy? That’s what we explore in this article.


Are we focused on the needs of all stakeholders?

Click here to expand the above image 🡕


The starting point for designing any learning initiative should be with the individual learner it's aimed at. We need to understand what they need to do and talk to them about how we can help them to do it. So, let’s start by looking at the learner.


The Learner

We’ll call our learner Dave. He’s new to his organisation. What’s compliance training like for him? 

Flowchart of Dave’s journey as he begins a new job, from day 1, to viewing all the training he must do and experiencing frustration as he lacks the time he needs to do everything

First, Dave gets the job he really wants – and to begin with, things are looking good. He’s viewed his training guide and it looks clear and comprehensive. He gets why he’s being asked to do it and he believes it’s important. But then – reality kicks in.

Dave’s getting more and more ‘real work’ to do but still has hours of compliance training to get through. He doesn’t have time to try and remember everything or understand why he should. Does he really need to know all these rules and regulations? Are they applicable to him? And if so, how?

The training is having an impact, but for the wrong reasons. Dave’s becoming increasingly frustrated. He is so saturated with information that he can’t take any more on board. What do you get? Experience fail.


And Dave’s not alone

He’s chatted to colleagues about it and they agree. Some of them have done pretty much the same compliance training for a few years or more and are totally disengaged. The time, effort and money that’s gone into the training is being wasted.

So, what can we learn from all this? What does Dave really want? He wants:  

  • Learning that is quick and easy to do, so it doesn’t interfere with the day job. After all, he wants to impress his new boss
  • The ability to prove his existing knowledge – especially the more time he spends with the organisation. He doesn’t want a sheep dip experience
  • To learn only what is relevant to him and his role – not read an encyclopedia of all there is to know. Leave that to the experts
  • Digital content to reflect the websites and apps he uses every day. He doesn’t want to waste time figuring out what to do next
  • Help getting the learning to stick. He’s worried he won’t remember everything he’s been asked to learn in a few weeks
  • Access to support when and where he needs it
  • The opportunity to discuss this with colleagues and understand what it means for his organisation and his job role

But it’s not all about him. What about the needs of our other stakeholders?


What does everyone else think? 

There are multiple people involved in this compliance challenge, and they all might have a different, conflicting view on what ‘good’ looks like. This makes solving Dave’s problem more difficult. ​  

Aside from the learner, we have the needs and opinions of the business, the policy owners and L&D to consider. Everyone has a vested interest in the compliance conundrum.

Learning & Development (L&D)

Let’s think about L&D. They’re responsible for the learning strategy: its design, content, delivery, how long it takes. They’re passionate about creating better learning experiences; getting the learning to stick. They’re working closely with the business and the policy owners. Brokering those conversations about how to further the compliance programme. It’s something they really want to get right. They are held accountable for its success but are unsure how to prove impact beyond Level 1 of the Kirkpatrick evaluation model.

Perhaps now more than ever, they’re worried about working efficiently, given the strains on budgets as organisations recover economically after Covid-19. They may be asking ‘what money could be saved if we reduced the seat time by just 30 minutes’?  They may also be contemplating the volume of time policy owners are spending thinking about this content.

The policy owners  

The policy owner may be concerned that there’s not enough content. Are they covering enough ground for the organisation? They’re concerned about disseminating the right level of information, at the right time, with the right degree of accuracy; they have a heavy load to bear. 

The business owner

 And the business owner, equally, has a lot to consider – are my employees sufficiently compliant? How can I tell, and what are the risks if they’re not? Are people spending too long on this stuff, or not enough? What are the clear benefits of them doing it? Am I doing enough to follow up?  

“Only 53% of respondents rated their compliance training as being effective in terms of meeting the needs of your organisation.” - Brandon Hall Group

The regulator 

Finally, there’s the regulator. They too, want to protect the sectors in which they serve. To support the interests and the incomes of their industries and customers over the long term; to preserve and grow capital; ensure the appropriate governance is provided and adhered to.  

This isn’t a ‘tick box exercise’. Increasingly regulators are looking for more assurance than completion rates provide, or the number of hours spent doing the training. As stated by the Harvard Business Review:  

“Those are entirely the wrong metrics to use. Completion rates may be relevant for a firm to track for other purposes, but a meaningful measure of effectiveness must be directly tied to a clearly articulated outcome—for example, employees’ demonstrated understanding of policies and procedures, their acquisition of useful skills for confronting anticipated scenarios, or a change in their behaviour.” - Why Compliance Programs Fail, Hui Chen & Eugene Soltes, Harvard Business Review

Ultimately, it’s about proving the learning’s effectiveness. This was also the conclusion of the U.S Department of Justice Criminal Division in their Evaluation of Corporate Compliance:  

“Prosecutors, in short, should examine whether the compliance program is being disseminated to, and understood by employees in practice, in order to decide whether the compliance program is truly effective.” 


Finding the sweet spot 

Ultimately, effectiveness is what all our stakeholders are interested in: seeing an improvement or change in a specified behaviour.  Yes, they’re coming at compliance from different angles, but with a shared perspective. What is compliance, after all, but a desire to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your organisation? Everyone wants to feel confident that this desire is being fulfilled.

The balance – in terms of the right level of investment (time, money, effort) for an organisation to spend on compliance training – is a hard one to get right. But the sweet spot lies in deeply understanding and delivering quality and effectiveness for all concerned.

Venn diagram of the four personas: Learner, L&D, Business and Policy Owner showing “Effectiveness” at the intersection

The secret to that is better measurement (see our article on ‘Data driven design’). Using more effective measurement tools, we can evaluate what’s working and what’s not, eradicate or amend what isn’t, remove duplication across the organisation and identify ways to improve how we design and deliver effective compliance-based learning.



Check out the next article in this series: Design principles for compliance, to continue exploring The Kineo view on: Compliance elearning.

If you want to know more about how we create better learning experiences for compliance-based learning, drop us a line to book a free consultation with one of our learning experts.

Compliance elearning

Helping you find your North Star


In this suite of articles on compliance elearning, we take a helicopter view of the compliance landscape, talk you through our latest thinking and research, and share our recommendations for transforming your mandatory training – helping you find your North Star. We hope you find it useful and we welcome your feedback. Please get in touch if you'd like to discuss your own compliance training challenges with one of our team.

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