Six Strategies for Spicing Up Your Compliance Program

Stop Putting People to Sleep!

Compliance training doesn’t have to be painful.

I know, it’s a bold statement.

We’re talking about compliance training.

Anti-this, anti-that, dry, legalistic, compliance training.

It can be scary to stray from the traditional, rules-based approach, but breathing life into your compliance program is worth the effort. Not only will providing creative training mean your teams learn more, it will help to establish your department as a thoughtful and trusted partner.

Here are some strategies to help transform your training.

Six Strategies for Spicing Up Your Compliance Program

Laugh A Lot, Often at Yourself

You might not be aware, but many people think compliance professionals are stodgy rule-followers out to ruin their fun. Join me in proving them wrong.

Just because you are covering a serious topic doesn’t mean you have to be serious at all times. Don’t be afraid to crack a joke, tell an (appropriate) anecdote, or laugh at your own mistakes.

I am terrible at names, particularly when put on the spot. During a training session in Switzerland this fall, I got names wrong, mixed people up, and in a particularly embarrassing moment didn’t understand a soft-spoken British gentlemen “Peter” until he said his name for the third time. Rather than let it throw me off balance, I poked fun at myself and used it to keep the mood light for the rest of the session.

Point Out the Elephant

Whether it’s in-person training or eLearning, it’s no secret that most people aren’t excited to be sitting down for compliance training.

Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that fact.

After expressing some empathy for your victims, you can move on to the good stuff.

Lead With the Why

Most people will respond more positively to a training session when they understand why it’s important.

Don’t start your training with laws or rules. Instead, tell your participants why the training matters and how it will apply to their work responsibilities. This doesn’t have to be complicated, sometimes the truth is that the main reason a training is important is that it ensures that employees won’t violate a company policy or the law and get themselves fired.

Other times, it might be more personal – anti-harassment training, for example, can help individuals know how to help their colleagues handle uncomfortable or inappropriate situations.

Ditch Your Silos

Historically, compliance training has focused on one topic at a time.

Given the complex nature of compliance laws and regulations, it can be daunting to create training that addresses multiple topics at once. Doing so, however, has the benefit of creating training that attendees might actually be interested in.

Don’t shy away from using complex hypothetical scenarios that address multiple compliance and ethics issues at once.

How would you like some bribery with a side of data breach and some tax evasion thrown in for spice? Trainees faced with thinking about multiple issues at once are often more involved and more likely to remember what they’ve been taught.

Embrace the Virtual World

Unfortunately, it appears as though at least some of us are going to be working remotely regularly throughout 2022. Rather than lament the conference-room trainings of the Before Times, lean into the virtual element.

While video-conferencing can be painful, it can also be an excellent way to train people from various locations simultaneously. To make the most of your not-so-live, live training try to make the session as interactive as possible. Ask participants to turn on their cameras, call on people by name, and move on quickly to another person if someone is struggling with technical issues. Taking your sense of humor and meditation skills along for the ride is also necessary.

Without a doubt, you will at some point experience a technical difficulty. Try not to panic, everyone is used to glitches at this point, so ask for patience and move along as soon as you can.

Offer Choices

Everyone likes to have some control over their world, just ask my two-year old after I’ve cut her banana when she apparently wanted it whole. Compliance training may be mandatory, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t offer options.

How about offering your annual code of conduct training and letting participants choose three modules from a list of six to create their own course?

Or, if you plan to offer both live and online training, think of whether there is a group of people who could benefit from either option or allow them to choose?

Here’s a bonus strategy:

Mix It Up

Don’t be afraid to step away from traditional training formats.

There are lots of excellent options from comedy vignettes, to gamification, to progressive training that determines difficulty based on a participant’s initial responses to screening questions.

Compliance Competitor, Spark Compliance’s facilitated compliance training game, asks teams to work together to solve complex compliance and ethics problems.

Teams are rewarded points for their decisions and at the end of each game, a winner is declared.

But where’s the training?

Not only are the participants learning by doing during their team conversations, but they also participate in a facilitated conversation that highlights compliance issues, company policies, and best practices.

Employees are getting all the information they need from a training perspective, but walk away feeling energized rather than exhausted. In fact, competitors regularly report that they’ve had fun – that’s right, fun during compliance training!

Spicing up your training doesn’t have to be complicated, time-consuming, or expensive. Making little changes can make a big difference. Start with implementing just one of the strategies above and see where it takes you.

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Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She's a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.

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