Mandatory training can be daunting. Many learners are reluctant to take time away from their daily work activities to attend a training session or complete an eLearning module. As a result, perceptions abound that training, especially compliance training, is a waste of time.

The challenge for learning and development (L&D) professionals is to motivate learners so that they not only complete their training but view it positively, retain and apply their new knowledge, develop confidence in their ability to use it, and find satisfaction in their practical skills.

This article applies the four categories (attention, relevance, confidence and satisfaction) of John Keller’s ARCS model to compliance training and provides some tips to help motivate staff so that they complete and engage with mandatory compliance training.

1. Gain Their Attention

First and foremost, adult learners need to know “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM) and how training will make them better in their role. When writing learning outcomes, make sure they are clearly relevant to employees’ specific job roles so that they can see from the outset how the training will benefit them and help improve their work.

Incorporate Real-world Scenarios

Begin by posing a pertinent question to arouse learners’ curiosity, and then follow through with a relevant scenario. The scenario could be based on a real-life incident and its consequences, especially an issue of non-compliance. Scenarios should relate to the learners’ job role, because they must be able to relate to the scenario and appreciate the consequences of non-compliance.

For example, many learners, even within a single organization, are working from home, returning to the office after spending months working from home or a combination of these two options. Providing health and safety training to these different groups of a workforce requires taking into consideration the differences in their workplace environments and the different compliance issues they might encounter.

Use Interactive Design

Interactivity can aid in grabbing learners’ attention and curiosity, but be careful: Overusing interactive elements (for instance, over-relying on the “bells and whistles” of imagery or animation) can create monotony and interfere with learners’ knowledge retention.

2. Make Sure Training Is Relevant

Customize Your Training

One size does not fit all. Your learners are unique individuals, and training content that isn’t relevant to learners’ workplaces and practices will not motivate them to complete their training. In fact, it often leaves them with a negative impression of training in general, and it will almost certainly fail to ensure knowledge retention or to achieve any positive change in workplace behavior.

As the Australian standard AS3806 Standard on Compliance Programs states, training should be “relevant to the day-to-day work of employees and illustrative of the industry, organization or sector concerned.”

Adaptive Learning

Learners often protest when they have to complete training on topics that they are already proficient in. This complaint is justified, especially with some compliance topics, where training is legally required every year or two.

Adaptive learning is one solution. This technology presents learners with a series of questions before they begin a course. If they answer a question incorrectly, they must complete the relevant section of the course; if they answer correctly, they may skip that topic.

Include Learners’ Job Roles and Responsibilities

When planning a training program, identify different job roles and responsibilities to include. Create learner profiles or groups, so that you can “slide and dice” or modularize a course for each profile. For example, a training module on competition and consumer law as it relates to sales should only be delivered to sales professionals. Requiring it of all staff is likely to be a waste of time, and learners will perceive it negatively.

3. Instill Confidence

A lack of confidence in the subject matter or the training can keep learners from undertaking or completing required training. As a result, it’s importance to help them develop confidence.

Set Expectations for Success

At the beginning of the course, clearly outline its objectives and measures for successful completion — for example, by stating that learners will need to answer 80% of an assessment’s answers correctly in order to pass the course.

Allow Learners to Redo a Course or Quiz

Ensure that learners can reattempt knowledge checks. Ideally, questions and answers of the second attempt will vary slightly depending on their initial response.

Use Social Learning

Provide learners with the ability to interact with their peers in the form of a group activity or a discussion forum to share knowledge or ask questions.

Incorporate Activities

Relevant training activities are an effective way of increasing engagement. For example, in a course on fraud, you might include a group activity where learners investigate red flags in a scenario that’s related to their job.

4. Create a Feeling of Satisfaction

The successful completion of a course should be a satisfying experience, and learners should feel a sense of accomplishment.

Provide Instant Feedback

Providing learners with instant feedback throughout the course, especially in response to “knowledge check” questions, can help increase satisfaction, build confidence and improve knowledge retention.

Use Microlearning

Microlearning consists of “bite-sized” chunks of information designed to assist in periodically reinforcing information. For example, you might schedule microlearning courses into your annual compliance program to act as reminders of important information.

When planning an overall training program, consider the ARCS model of motivational design. Despite initial reluctance, staff can become motivated to complete mandatory compliance training — with confidence and satisfaction.