How do you make your workforce a more compliant workforce — one that delivers a return on investment (ROI), mitigates organizational risk and makes the organization more ethical?

Do you experience a drain of monetary and timely resources, because both stakeholders and employees undervalue compliance training or see it as a “box-checking” exercise?

Unfortunately, for many organizations, the latter is true. In fact, over three-quarters of human resources (HR), learning and development (L&D), and compliance professionals believe that employees see compliance training as “a necessary burden,” according to Thompson Reuters’ March 2020 research report “Thinking Outside the Tick Box.”

Is it because compliance training programs are designed that way? When we think of compliance training, do we start envisioning large amounts of text explaining regulations, legislation and policies in language that’s full of jargon? In Thompson Reuters’ survey, 32% of respondents said the No. 1 barrier to compliance is “employees’ perception that compliance training is too time consuming.”

Does it have to be this way? It depends on the amount of effort we are willing to invest to make compliance training more effective. A compliance program that better communicates the business and employee consequence of noncompliance is engaging and less time-consuming. One of the strategies used by successful organizations is storytelling — and, fortunately, storytelling is not reserved for the creative few. It’s a competency that every talent developer should master.

It’s not enough to focus on creating instruction; instead, we must focus on developing engaging and collaborative experiences that continue after the course to elicit long-lasting change. Stories are one such experience — and below are five tips to create effective stories for compliance training:

1. Listening Is Learning

Schedule a meeting with the subject matter expert (SME), and plan on spending at least 35 to 40 minutes listening to them about the topic. This conversation can provide you with challenges and opportunities that can help you craft scenarios and inspiring stories.

2. Record the Conversation

Record your conversation with the SME, so you don’t miss out on important insights. (Always seek permission from the SME first.) The recording will also help you avoid the back-and-forth of subsequent meetings and emails to confirm important details.

3. Tell Stories of Struggle

Understand the struggles of your learners, and tell stories that use creative problem-solving to overcome those struggles.

4. Identify Your Audience

It is important to know who your audience is. For example, a course on anti-bribery and corruption might be for a general audience, or it might be directed toward the leadership team or procurement department. Be sure to identify challenges that are relevant to your audience to include in your story.

5. Offer Snippets

Story snippets are always interesting and can ignite learners’ interest prior to an in-classroom session or before clicking the “next” button in an eLearning module, making them want to find out what happens next. Be sure not to give out too much information in the snippet; suspense is key.

Stories can ignite hearts and minds and, if delivered well, have the power to effectively be a call to action for learners to alter their behavior in response to a specific objective. Compliance training programs don’t need to be boring, if we strive hard to make them interesting! One of the most effective ways is the power of storytelling.