How To Make Compliance Programs Work for the Modern Workplace

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Compliance and regulatory training play a crucial role in any operational organization and business. Not only does it ensure that the management keeps up with its legal responsibility, it also serves as a security blanket against risks and is a driving factor in employee growth and development.

According to, trusted certifications in compliance and regulation are essential in industries with ever-changing and shifting landscapes.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, has introduced 75,000 pages of new regulations in 2014 alone—a staggering number that is impossible to master and properly apply if employees are subjected to normal training set-ups that usually involves just a read-and-agree format.

At present, regulators no longer just settle for signed training compliance records, too. Instead, many regulatory auditors subject workers to actual interviews to test their knowledge about regulations.

The Problem with Compliance and Regulation Certifications

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Many organizations and businesses put compliance and regulation training on the back burner because of a variety of reasons. For one, many top managers consider it second only to leadership development, while employees often look at them as “boring” and borderline a “waste of time.”

There is also the issue of operational continuity. Often, both the management and employees perceive compliance and regulation as a second priority because they have a hard time carving the hours needed to complete the training.

Another challenge can be traced back to the way compliance training is delivered. Most of the time, these crash courses are rolled out as a whole to the organization, meaning crucial details are commonly skipped for the sake of the “just do away with it” attitude. This traditional approach, however, only leads to uninspiring results, not to mention minimal retention and impact.

The Cost of Ignoring Compliance Training

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We’ve all heard of the big headlines about companies facing fines and roadblocks for being non-compliant. Obviously, these problems will lead to reputation damage and a big hit on the corporate sheet, but there are other less talked about side-effects that have an equal impact on a business.

Failure to deliver proper compliance training can also lead to employee dissatisfaction due to loss of expertise, for example, which can then lead to high employee turnover. This problem can eat away at an organization from the inside as they scramble with time and the money needed to replace prime talent.

Low employee productivity is also another danger. Compliance and regulatory training help keep people in-the-know with the changes and trends in their industry so those who don’t find their training effective can be left behind in terms of their performance.

Compliance and Regulation in the Modern Workplace

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Considering these challenges, there is an obvious need for organizations to attack compliance and regulation in a way that fits the dynamics of the modern workplace. One way to do it is to change the way it is addressed.

For example, rather than just looking at it as a stand-alone process, it should be packaged and internally marketed as a continuous process in a business operation. Regarding it as a tool for improved performance and employee growth rather than just a chore that needs to be checked off is a great springboard in changing its impact.

Taking a value-based approach that shifts the way compliance training is addressed is crucial as well. Rather than just looking at it from a knowledge transfer point of view, it should be approached with a knowledge application mindset instead to ensure that it will become an important business performance tool.

What Can Management Do?

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Changing the way compliance and regulatory training is addressed and picked up should be a team effort between the top management and the employee pool. However, the success of it will definitely be dependent on the administering body of the organization.

From a management point of view, change can start by strictly reviewing the compliance topic first and deciding whether it can really be a training opportunity rather than just a waste of time for the organization. Asking the big questions is crucial, too. What are the learning objectives of this training? Who will we train? How can the organization and the employees benefit from it?

The way the employees can “consume” them should also be given attention. One of the reasons why knowledge retention for training like these are so low is because they’re administered in a black-and-white traditional way.

If there’s one way the modern workplace has affected the way employees work, it’s by giving them a limitless pool of how they can consume information. Compliance and regulatory training that is delivered using engaging, interactive, and personalized mediums can greatly shift the way they are consumed and applied.

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For example, doing a simple multiple choice instead of the usual check-off-the-box type of test can be a refreshing change. Putting it on the cloud where anyone can access it through their mobile device  can also solve the problem of employees taking hours off work to slave over their “test papers.”

Breaking down compliance training into a friendlier language can also help. Training of this type is often written in legalese language, so many of its responders find it hard to connect with them. Re-framing them using real-world context will not only make them more interesting, it can significantly improve knowledge retention among employees as well.

Last but not least, there should also be an effort to change the perspective of how executives see compliance and regulatory training. As the so-called ‘sponsors’ of these types of training, the top management should—as cliche as it may sound—carry the torch and lead the way for the rest of its organizational members.

Of course, each management layer should have different learning objectives for clarity, too. For example, training for senior leaders should be focused on the reduction of liability and business continuity while managers should zone in on employee management and profitability. Employees, on the other hand, should gain a better perspective on processes and workflow by the end of their training.

As the old saying goes, ‘modern problems require modern solutions.’ For the case of organizations, it’s not only the question of whether they are compliant or not that should be asked. In order to make the most out of compliance and regulatory training, a paradigm shift on how it is perceived, delivered, and consumed is necessary to make it work for the modern workplace.