The bad reputation of compliance training

Did you see the episode of Glee (stay with me, it’s relevant) called ‘Bad Reputation’? It’s the one where Mr Schuester somewhat ill-advisedly performs ‘Ice, Ice Baby’ and the Glee kids are asked to rehabilitate songs that have gained a bad reputation.

Well, I’ve always felt a bit sorry for compliance training, with its own undeserved bad reputation.

Yes, there are a lot of unexciting, underwhelming compliance courses out there, but is that the cause or the effect of its bad reputation? Is it the fault of the subject matter if the e-learning is dull, dull, dull – and ineffective to boot? If we all tell ourselves that compliance training is a boring necessity, is it any surprise that what we get is tedious tick-box exercises?

Out of all the e-learning courses I’ve designed, one of my firm favourites is a compliance one. That project’s gone on to win a couple of awards showing that compliance training really can be up there with the very best in e-learning. It’s spurred me on to do my bit to rehabilitate compliance training!

That’s why I’m really looking forward to speaking at the eLearning Network’s ‘innovation in compliance training’ event later this month. In preparation for my session, I’d really like to know what some of the most common compliance complaints are – what do you really struggle with when you’re designing compliance e-learning? Try to be a bit more specific than just ‘it’s boring’ and I’ll try to provide suggestions to overcome these obstacles in my session. 

Image: jscreationzs /

5 thoughts on “The bad reputation of compliance training

  1. Craig Taylof

    I too design a LOT of compliance elearning as I work in the Nuclear Industry and “Boy”! are we regulated!

    My biggest problem isn’t that the content is dull (my solution to that is to show the consequences of NOT applying the learning), but that our H&S Advisers cannot or will not ‘let go’ of the need to turn the elearning into a complete reference of the entire subject.

    In the words of Cathy Moore they won’t ‘Dump the Drone’! They want the elearning to be another job aid. They aren’t prepared to let the Instructional Designer (me) do my job.

    I have tried referring them to all the research I have done on the subject if ID, I have tried undertaking the Action Mapping process with them, I have tried to stress that we shouldn’t be teaching\testing spurious facts, acronyms and figures but should be concentrating on ‘action’.

    I have recently discovered a rather interesting document from the HSE which will make any decent L&D practitioner shudder, which I will be blogging about over the next few days.

    I hope that your session later this month can provide me with another tool for my rather depleted toolbox.

    1. stephaniededhar Post author

      Hi Craig, thanks for your comment. I feel your pain! Too many people fall into the trap of writing a legal handbook, rather than focusing on the important stuff – what people need to do (or avoid doing) to stay out of trouble. I love your idea of showing the consequences of not applying the learning – and the more those are consequences for the individual (rather than the business) the better. Sounds like you’re doing a great job, keep trying to win them round! And I’ll do my best to give you one or two new tools later this month. Thanks for reading.

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