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ATD Blog

Make Compliance Training More Engaging

Friday, March 22, 2019

Have you ever seen so many eyes roll back into their heads as when you announce compliance training is due? Compliance training is usually the most dreaded of all training financial employees undergo. And perhaps that starts at the top.

Did you know that 42 percent of executives said they could justify unethical behavior to meet financial targets, according to 206 Global Fraud Survey from EY? Clearly something is missing—and downright wrong—with compliance and compliance training today. Leadership buy-in, culture changes, and using modern learning techniques can help to save a culture rooted in the notion of turning a blind eye.

But compliance training is necessary. According to the ATD 2018 State of the Industry report, mandatory and compliance training makes up for 12 percent of the content in an organization’s “learning portfolio” offered by all industries and 15 percent in the FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) industries. Most of this training was delivered via e-learning.

We all know that a large chunk of the training FIRE industry professionals must conduct is within regulatory and compliance topics. But regulatory and compliance topics don’t garner as much of the trainer’s overall financial budget as trendier topics, like technology training or manager and leadership development. To make really engaging compliance training on a shoestring is not easy.

There are three major focal points in which you can start making your compliance training more engaging—delivery, content, and culture.



The learning delivery has to be current. Small, bite-sized learning chunks, available via mobile apps and other e-learning platforms, are necessary. The training should also be accessible or available for download after the employee has completed it.

Don’t fall into the trap of fads, however. I took a compliance training course that claimed it was gamified. Trust me, it was not done well. The “game” looked like a cartoon, gave out points, and moved like an interactive board. Visually, it was mostly appealing. Where it fell short was that the content was repurposed from the online slides, and this game was nothing more than rote memorization to earn points. It was essentially the same material with cartoons plastered around it. It was not fun, and I spent as little time as I could plowing through the questions to finish the “game.”



As you could see from the example above, no matter how you deliver your training, if the content is not engaging, you will lose most of your audience before you get halfway through. Storytelling works no matter what kind of training you are delivering. Ask your most successful sales representative how they get their clients, and they will tell you emotional connections are key to any kind of engagement. Make no mistake, you are selling this compliance training to your audience, so make it emotional and make it personal.


The last and most complicated piece is culture. As a trainer, you are never going to get compliance training to stick if those at the top are not following suit. You must have leadership buy-in before you can even hope to start getting increased engagement and the principles of compliance ingrained in your employees.
Compliance training won’t be fixed until you start delivering your training in a more personalized and consumable way with content that really draws people in and leaders who support the rules and regulations laid out in your training.

About the Author

Formerly the senior content manager at ATD for career development and host of the Accidental Trainer podcast, Lisa Spinelli writes about career development and pathways. She is the editor and main author of Teachers to Trainers (ATD Press) and is working toward her ACC accreditation with the International Coaching Federation as a career and transition coach. Currently, she is director of content strategy at Degreed. Spinelli also volunteers her time outside of work coaching and assisting transitioning military service members and spouses as well as disabled entrepreneurs in their new career paths.

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Good work. I completely agree make compliance training emotional, compelling, and personal if you want to see impact.
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Making something engaging means making something better? I think so! Don't you? Want to try out something which gives your employees a better experience? Try out!
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