The Problem with Canned Compliance

We’ve been doing a lot of work in compliance lately at Brandon Hall Group, an example of which can be found here. Having analyzed the data and spoken to professionals, I feel like it all boils down to two almost diametrically opposed points:

  1. Compliance training is critically important to many organizations and their ability to even function as a business.
  2. Compliance training is boring and looked at like a necessary evil.Dave

The problem is that if we continue to treat compliance training the way we do (#2), it is going to make #1 increasingly difficult.

Let’s face it, compliance training is necessary. Whether it is to ensure nobody harasses anybody on the job, or to keep people from getting chemicals sprayed into their eyes, it is necessary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, OSHA collected $200 million in fines in 2012, and they are just one of seemingly innumerable agencies capable of imposing penalties on organizations that are out of compliance.

One of the biggest issues is that we tend to look at compliance training from that point of view.  A company will look at a training program as a way to avoid fines. While that might be okay in terms of business strategy, this attitude hardly encourages engagement from employees.

Instead, the other benefits of the training need to be touted. Ideas like making a better work environment,  demonstrating  that the employees’ health and well-being are important, or even making the company known for “doing the right thing,” are all more far more engaging concepts than avoiding fines.

It would also help if compliance training got some of the design attention other training receives. There is no reason compliance training shouldn’t be as engaging and thoughtful as training for products and services or even leadership development.  I look at it like this: Compliance training is often an employee’s first learning interaction with the company. If it is dry, boring and unimaginative, what will that employee be expecting when the next learning event rolls around?

For more insight on compliance training, join Brandon Hall Group Senior Analyst David Wentworth and Ray Ruff, Chief Scientist at NetDimensions, in our upcoming webinar – Mission Critical: Managing Compliance Training in Europe.  David and Ray will walk through some of the results of Brandon Hall Group’s 2012 Compliance Survey, identifying global trends and looking at some of the challenges facing companies as well as best practices across various industries.  Come share your views and experiences!

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