Compliance training can be a loaded term because, depending on the industry, training requirements may vary: corporate compliance (e.g., sexual harassment, diversity, equity and inclusion) safety compliance (e.g., occupational safety and health administration, environmental, health and safety training), and legal and regulatory compliance. This last category may be seen by some as the catch-all for every compliance training, but in some industries such as healthcare, finance, cannabis, etc., it includes additional pieces like licensing, state-mandated training and industry-specific safety training.

While compliance is generally the lowest denominator of any training program, it’s often recognized by learning and development (L&D) professionals as the “brand killer,” because it can create a perception that it’s the business’s job (and joy) to create and send out the most boring training possible with a test at the end and a legal attestation requiring a blood signature.

However, the best L&D organizations know that by being innovative and cutting edge, they can use these courses to allow their creativity to shine while establishing a solid foundation for all other content.

Partnering with HR and Legal

Generally, human resources (HR) and legal departments are most aware of compliance training needs, and they dictate them to L&D. By gaining the trust and respect of HR and the legal team, L&D can use this opportunity to prove its value to the business.

In more highly regulated industries, compliance training also can keep the business from being fined or losing licensure, showing a direct return on investment (ROI). Understanding the nuances of each type of compliance training and working across departments can help keep your program, employees and company safe and compliant.

While somewhat standard across all industries, compliance varies by the employee’s state or role. With more and more companies allowing remote work, it’s increasingly vital to understand these state-level requirements. Here, L&D can partner closely with HR on obtaining (or in some instances creating) the content, assigning it and monitoring completion. Being involved in this decision can give L&D leaders an opportunity to be seen and valued by the business.

And compliance training doesn’t have to be monotonous or a check-the-box activity. L&D can use these partnerships to design creative and memorable compliance training content.

Designing Corporate Compliance Training

Except in states like California that clearly define time parameters and content, many states don’t mandate sexual harassment training (yes, that’s correct). However, court case after court case has shown companies that don’t provide this training will lose every time. These days, employees themselves are also not only expecting but demanding diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training that goes beyond educating employees on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) requirements.

Instead, employees want content that clearly and effectively defines how the company values those of all races, genders, sexual orientations, gender identities, religious affiliations, physical abilities, neurodiversity, etc. However, unlike OSHA training which has very specific requirements, sexual harassment and DEI courses can provide L&D the freedom to create simple, direct and engaging content that not only “checks the box” but is memorable and much more budget friendly.

Many offices have a few former or current thespians who dream of being in front of the camera or those who identify in a specific way and are passionate about sharing their personal story. Including employees in training content and allowing them to see fellow colleagues in courses can make an impact. This is a great opportunity to get creative while reducing training costs.

Making Safety Training Engaging

Even if a company doesn’t work with heavy equipment or toxic chemicals, there is always a need for a fire extinguisher, ergonomics, building evacuation, inclement weather and other similar courses, making safety training a must. And because this training is often so specific to each business, it’s another perfect opportunity to make training more engaging and interactive.

Instead of using another third-party course, design an eLearning course and incorporate storytelling into the content. For example, you can design an eLearning course that’s made to look like a treasure hunt with a map showing all the possible evacuation routes in the office building. Each employee must follow that map to find certain “treasures.”

Each treasure could be something they enter into a fill-in-the-blank question. For example, if the building has four emergency exits, you can place the treasures by each exit with learning content to explore. This can make training more fun, increase participation rates and improve learner retention.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance Training

Legal and regulatory compliance training can save your company from litigation, fines and/or employee or business licensure loss. For instance, certain professionals in industries like education, health care and accounting (to name just a few) are required to complete a certain number of hours in approved continuing education to maintain their license.

In highly regulated industries like finance and cannabis, there are additional trainings mandated at the state or federal level. These courses are often more delegated in form, content and format. For example, they may have to be in an actual classroom with an instructor holding a specific type of certification and, therefore, allow for less flexibility and creativity.

Since L&D won’t be developing these types of legal and regulatory courses, if they’ve built trust with HR and legal, they can be integral in the selection of when, where and who provides this training content, ensuring it helps perpetuate the best learning environment possible. And, once again, it can show off L&D’s value to the business!

As L&D professionals, we know how imperative it is to partner with every business leader possible, show them the importance of quality training (if they don’t already see it) and how it can save them money. Compliance training is the perfect place to start!