5 Tips for Successful Online Compliance Training Programs

Jill W.

Let's face it. Most people view compliance training in much the same way as they do a dental appointment. It's necessary, it's not much fun and it's best just to get it done. For seasoned employees, compliance training often means, repeating what they already know. For them, it's a "Why can't they just cover it in an email?" situation.

So, what's the trick to making compliance training informative, effective and engaging? In this article, I'll share five tips that will help you create successful online compliance training.

What is Compliance Training?

Compliance training is a result of legal requirements, standards (occupational, quality, business process, etc.) or policies and procedures that must be met. It is the process of educating employees on the laws, regulations and company policies and procedures that apply to their day-to-day job responsibilities. In other words, people take this training because they have to - not because they want to.

Think about it. What do these phrases have in common?

  • The standards have been updated and additional training is required ...
  • The legislation will be amended next month, which means ...
  • The safety regulations have been revised to include ...
  • Company policy requires all employees to renew their certification in ...

They all mean one thing: compliance training.

Tips for Creating Successful Online Compliance Training

1. Know Your Audience

Knowing your audience is the first rules in eLearning development.

Are you creating compliance training for new employees or for senior management? Are you training people in their 50s or are you training millennials?

For example, considering the age of your audience, you may want to include gamification aspects in your course or you may want to tone it down.

The other thing that knowing your audience helps you with is figuring out how much training they need.

With most companies, there will be some employees that need training from the ground up while other more experienced employees may only require a top-up. Knowing this will help you develop learning streams that will deliver the required training to the right audience.

2. Know Your Content

Before you begin developing the course, find out what already exists. Compliance training often consists revising existing content - adding to it or deleting from it.

Find out what has been covered in previous training content. Examine the updated content to see what is new and how it affects what has already been developed. This will save you time and save the company money.

The last thing you'll need to find out is if the training delivery method will change. Some companies prefer to make only those changes necessary to ensure that the training content meets the compliance requirements. Some may want some new enhancements to freshen up the content. Others may want to give the entire course a new look and take a different approach to delivery.

3. Make the Learning Relevant

Compliance training can be pretty dry. Bringing the content home to learners in an engaging manner can spark things up. Making them think about what they are learning and why it is important helps ensure that the training sticks and is not easily forgotten. Here are a few ways that you can make your compliance training relevant to your learners:

a. Use a Character to Guide the Learner

Using a character or avatar to mentor learners through the content is a great way to provide a human element to the course. Use audio and the character visual to introduce content segments, ask questions, present knowledge check exercises and summarize the module.

Take time to develop the character. Make him or her a realistic as you can by:

  • Ensuring that the character is relevant to your audience. The character should look like it belongs to the workforce and it should sound just like one of the staff.
  • Making sure the character's voice is appropriate to the character and to the audience.
  • Using humour, but sparingly. Develop a character that sounds like someone who enjoys his or her job.

Check out Top 5 Tips To Effectively Use Humor in eLearning to learn more on how to use humour in your eLearning courses.

b. Use Real Examples

Use stories and case studies that your audience can relate to. They will become more involved if the example seems like something that could happen (or has happened) in their workplace. But, make the story believable and take time to make sure you get the details right.

A great way to involve learners in case study examples is to use decision tree or branching scenarios. As you tell the story, you present a challenge and then offer the learner choices. You then explain the impact of their decision. This allows the learner to practice what they are learning in a "real world" manner and helps them link compliance training to their workplace situations.

4. Engage the Learner

Knowing your audience will help you determine what you will do to engage your learners. Then, it's important to create courses that improve their learning experience. Here are some tips to increase motivation for compliance training:

  • You may want to create games where the learner must solve problems related to must have to complete compliance related tasks or procedures using branching scenarios. Offer rewards for learning along the way.
  • Animation and videos are other tools that can enhance the learner experience. You can create entertaining and informative content that still brings the compliance messages home. Your audience may not even realize that they are learning!
  • Introducing social media and online discussions can provide another means of learning. Learners can exchange ideas, ask questions and share their thoughts on the content and how it applies to their jobs.
  • Webinars can create excitement and enthusiasm for compliance training. Make sure your webinars are well-scheduled and provide learners with a list of topics in advance. You may want to bring in guest experts to help host the webinars.

5. Make the Learning Accessible

While compliance training is necessary, there is no reason that it must be done in one place or done all at once.

eLearning can be done anywhere a portable device can access the internet. So, why should online compliance training be any different? Mobile learning lets learners learn when and where they have time to do so. So, take advantage of technology and design your compliance training to be accessible anywhere.

Creating micro-learning or breaking the content into small chunks, to make the knowledge easier to digest and retain. If you break the content up into easily digestible modules and use bullet points to emphasize key pieces of information, your learners will be happier. You will avoid overload them with data and the online compliance training will be more enjoyable. Design bite-sized modules that can be completed in under 30 minutes.


So, as you can see, the days of tedious compliance training are behind us. There's no need for compliance training to be boring or drawn out. Online delivery allows it to be delivered whenever and wherever the learner wants to take it. It's up to you to use your skills and knowledge to make that happen.

Creating successful online compliance training is no different from creating any other type of online training. We reviewed same basic rules that apply. Keep these rules in mind and your compliance training is bound to be a success!

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Jill W.

Jill is an Instructional Designer at BaseCorp Learning Systems with more than 10 years of experience researching, writing and designing effective learning materials. She is fascinated by the English language and enjoys the challenge of adapting her work for different audiences. After work, Jill continues to leverage her professional experience as she works toward the development of a training program for her cats. So far, success has not been apparent.