Why is Compliance Training out of Compliance?

Why is Compliance Training out of Compliance?


The Compliance Training Fantasy

In the fantasy world of corporate compliance, the training program is often implemented like the scenario below.

...typical compliance training isn't really about true behavioral change as it relates to compliance. It is more about getting the entire employee base checked off a list, so that leadership and the training organization can breathe a collective sigh, until next year's sheep dipping.

Sometime near the end of the year or the beginning of the year (fiscal or calendar), there is a drive to get all staff to take mandated compliance training on topics such as employment law, compliance, ethics, preventing sexual harassment, and other risk areas, etc. Because this training is done across the enterprise and larger corporations have tens of thousands of employees, traditional eLearning is usually the modality used to deliver this training. It is normally not well-designed, employees hate it, and the HR and HRIS or Compliance Training organizations spend hundreds if not thousands of staff hours tracking who has or who hasn't completed the training. This is key because typical compliance training isn't really about true behavioral change as it relates to compliance. It is more about getting the entire employee base checked off a list, so that leadership and the training organization can breathe a collective sigh, until next year's sheep dipping.

The Time-Compliance Conundrum

While some astronomically small percentage of the organizational population may actually enjoy "learning" this way, there is a major problem in the current mode of delivery. The chance of the employee needing the information or training to change behavior when it is provided is very small. Let's say I have taken a business ethics training course on December 12 of the year. Yay! I got my compliance training checked off. I can go on holiday break now and know that it is done and the CEO or Compliance Officer won't be calling me.

Here is the rub. I probably won't need the training or concepts contained in it until later in the next year, when I can no longer access the eLearning I took, or even search the concepts because the training is only available during the "compliance rush."

When you play well-designed video games, which truly reinforce behavior, by the way, and allow people to practice and fail in a safe environment, they use a technique called "progressive disclosure." Great game design says that you will get new skills in your portfolio at the time of need. This way you can really learn it and it becomes a part of your mental and muscle memory.

Imagine if you were taking a Basic Excel class and at the beginning of the second hour your instructor starts to teach Excel newbies about pivot tables. Not only does this not make sense...a beginner Excel user probably doesn't need to use pivot tables yet.

Stop the Madness

Is there a better way? Of course, there is. Compliance shouldn't be focused on once a year to check a box. It should be focused on 365 days a year, 24/7.  Syntrio's position on this is to have the training available year round, typically initially as part of new-hire onboarding, with annual updates on new requirements or content. The content assets should include a continuum of standard and Micro-learning, and they should be readily accessible from any company computer, smart phone, phablet, or tablet at the time of need. That way, when I have a question about compliance in May, I can quickly access it, potentially practice, and be better prepared for the real-life situation.  Register to see Syntrio's recorded Webinar (Best Practices for Online Ethics & Compliance Training in a Short-Attention-Span World, which covers many of these tenets.

See standard eLearning in a variety of risk areas.

How do you Know This Will Work?

This is one of the easiest Return on Investment (ROI) tests you will ever have to do. When you are ready to implement Compliance Training & Performance Support year round, work with your Compliance Officer and/or General Counsel to determine the number, severity, and costs associated with compliance violations in the "sheep-dipping" implementation in the previous year versus the new 365-day implementation method.  You can also compare the staff hours in managing and reporting on compliance training.  You should see a marked decrease in the number of violations and the staff hours spent managing compliance reporting year over year. And you won't have to scramble frenetically for six weeks a year being the compliance police.

This is a radical change from the way compliance training has been done for the last couple of decades, but it is the right way!

Want to learn more about Micro-Learning?

Interested in Making Real Compliance Change?

Is your organization living the Compliance Training Fantasy? Do you want to Stop the Madness?  Contact Syntrio, so we can assess your current compliance training program and make recommendations to augment and/or improve your current offering.


Syntrio is a leader in both the ethics and compliance field, as well as human resources and employment law, and is prepared to help your company implement a compliance program aimed at reducing the potential impact of compliance violations within the organization. Syntrio takes an innovative philosophy towards compliance program design and strives to engineer engaging, entertaining, and thought-provoking content. Contact www.syntrio.com for more information about our ethics and code of conduct online courses and remember to follow us on Facebook, TwitterGoogle Plus and LinkedIn for daily updates on employment law and compliance that impact your company!


Written by Darin Hartley, Director of Marketing for Syntrio.

Posted in Code of Conduct, Compliance Training, Custom Courses, Managing Within the Law, Sexual Harassment and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .