For learning and development (L&D) leaders, changes inside and outside the workplace have raised expectations among modern learners for compliance training. Whether it’s complying with new regulations, fostering inclusion and psychological safety or preventing harassment, effective training is not about memorizing rules and do’s and don’ts. It’s about motivating learners to choose to act appropriately and to do the right thing. And that’s the heart of behavior-based training.

Learning leaders are familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy of Skills and its hierarchical order of cognitive skills that ranks applying, analyzing and evaluating skills higher than simply remembering and understanding. Since changing learners’ behavior is the end goal, training that targets these higher levels of brain cognition can be more effective. Rather than simply remembering text, learners are engaged in realistic situations that require making a choice about potential issues or conflicts and then seeing the outcome of their decisions. In this way, learners are able to reflect on their own behavior and begin building the right habits. It’s like we’ve heard since childhood, “practice makes perfect.”

Let’s look at how this approach can make sexual harassment prevention training more effective. First, who should be trained? The short answer is all employees and managers, at every level. And since the #MeToo movement, providing sexual harassment prevention training is mandatory for thousands of organizations. To date, seven states have enacted anti-harassment laws that include a training requirement: California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Delaware, Maine and Washington State (for certain industries).

Starting July 1, 2022, Chicago employers will have additional training obligations. Under a new ordinance by the Chicago City Council, every year employers must provide a minimum of one hour of sexual harassment prevention training to all employees; as well as one hour of bystander intervention training. For supervisors and managers, it’s a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment prevention training annually.

Beyond covering the required topics, effective harassment prevention training should align with your organization’s culture and put policies and practices into real-world context with these best practices.

Relatable Storytelling

There’s nothing like a good story to connect people on an emotional level and hold their attention. After all, storytelling is a fundamental part of how the human brain learns and processes new things. A relatable and authentic story can be one of the strongest attributes to an eLearning course, especially if it uses video.

Video has come a long way from the stock images and characters that many people associate with compliance training. With today’s eLearning and digital technologies, instructional designers can produce impactful, engaging videos that reflect modern workplace scenarios and behaviors, with professional actors who represent different dimensions of diversity.

Using A Different Lens

Asynchronous learning provides learners with the personal space to have the “aha” moments that enable them to experience learning through a wider lens. For example, people may believe it’s okay to share a joke that perpetuates a stereotype or make inappropriate comments during a video meeting until they see the effect of their actions on others. Online training provides a safe environment to tackle topics and situations that may be difficult for some people to see played out in live, in-person training.

Make Training Short And Impactful

Studies in cognitive psychology show that the brain can only retain up to 20 minutes of new information at a time. And in these unpredictable times, most folks are juggling their personal lives and jobs. So when designing a training course, shorter is better. The goal is to give learners the information they need in a clear, impactful way and simplify, simplify, simplify. It’s a balancing act of art and science. It’s important to cover all the key content areas, as well as the “small” things that everyone can do to foster a positive, speak-up culture and show respect and empathy for co-workers.

Gamification to Drive Participation

Gamification in compliance training can sometimes be misunderstood, but it’s the process of using games to drive both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, increase engagement, knowledge retention and behavior change. A gamified strategy can help learners become active participants rather than passive observers with the use of quizzes, simulations, points and scoring and drag-and-drop interactions. Most of training can be gamified in some way and can make a great impact on learning outcomes.

Looking Ahead

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have the potential to enhance engagement and enable employees to practice skills and behaviors in a safe and simulated environment. The best learning happens through doing and practicing, and VR/AR expands the possibilities for more immersive and interactive learning experiences.

This is an exciting and challenging time for those of us involved in the world of eLearning. We have the tools, technologies and understanding to help organizations better tackle issues such as harassment and discrimination and help employees take positive steps toward lasting behavior change. This quote, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, speaks to the future of digital learning: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”