E-learning is better suited for delivering compliance training than mass learning and development

Compliance training may not be the most inspiring element of your learning and development schedule, but it is a serious business. It protects customers, employees and organisations – whether it is safeguarding a client against malpractice, or insuring a company against legal action.

The training itself comes in various forms and covers many areas, from combating money laundering to operating dangerous equipment. Some of it will be statutory and regulated by external bodies such as the Financial Services Authority, or it may be part of a mandatory company policy. But whatever the reason for it, there are two underlying factors driving compliance training: you have to do it and you have to show that you’ve done it.

Consistent message

One of the most effective means of delivering cost-effective compliance training is through e-learning. It can’t do everything, but it can offer the reach and the ability to audit and track training in a way that classroom-based learning cannot.

“It is very difficult if all you have is classroom-based training, especially for global companies who want to ensure consistency with their rules and regulations,” explained Mark Martin, training director of financial services compliance training company Complinet.

But simply keeping track of who’s done the training is enough of a challenge, according to Clive Barker, sales director at Nottingham health and safety compliance specialist e-Comply.

“How organisations track the training of 5,000 people across 20 sites is an issue for anyone. With statutory changes, it is also important to be able to update the training fairly easily,” he said.

However, just because you tick a box to say you’ve completed a course, and a learning management system records that you have, doesn’t mean that you can actually apply the learning.

Ben Goh, secretary of the Compliance Register, the international organisation for compliance professionals in financial services and allied industries, explained: “E-learning is good for the basics, but in terms of application and learning the practice of compliance, you really need some face-to-face interaction and case studies that relay actual experiences.”

The right blend

Martin advocates a blended approach to compliance training so organisations can make the most out of all available media. Whatever the medium, the most important thing is that the training fits in with your activities (and obligations) as an employer, he said.

That said, e-learning providers now offer a range of truly interactive courses, according to Barker.

“It is e-learning, and not e-reading,” he said.

Scenario-based training helps employees understand the context of what they are learning and better apply it in their day-to-day jobs, explained Lars Hyland, director of learning services at e-learning developer Brightwave.

Putting it in context

“Sometimes we’ll put the actual legislation on the back-burner and focus on making employees understand the consequences of their actions,” he said. “We set it in context so it’s real and understandable. Obviously, it depends on the scope you have.” In a project for Cable & Wireless, for example, it used communication and marketing techniques (see case study).

As with any training programme, how you market the initiative will have an impact on its success.

“We always encourage clients to think carefully about the way they promote their learning,” said Hyland.

“Without motivation and knowing why a subject is important, learners will not get the full benefit of the programme.”

Case study: Cable & Wireless

The corporate governance team at telecommunications company Cable & Wireless needed to create a global training programme on business continuity. It also wanted to ensure that it complied with the British Standard Institute’s new PAS56 standard on good practice when preparing for disaster.

With 14,000 employees to reach, the company felt e-learning would be the best route and chose to work with software developer Brightwave.

The programme contained movies, interactive briefings and an online assessment section, and learners could run the course online or they could download it.

The compulsory course was rolled out in three phases to different countries and, once all existing staff have taken it, it will be built into the induction process. The initial launch took 13 weeks to complete.

“We didn’t want an average page-turning e-learning module where the learner just clicks through a set of text-based pages,” said Russell Williams, Cable & Wireless business continuity manager. “The subject can be perceived as dry, so it was important to keep staff engaged. The e-learning movies are a novel approach and a good way of getting key messages across.”


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