Compliance Training: The Playbook For An Engaging Approach

If you made it here, you already know what compliance is. So it’s fair to assume you’re looking for advice on how to do it better?

So rather than trying to game the Google algorithm for terms like ‘what is compliance training?’, let’s make a deal – we’re going to focus on just three things that can actually be applied to build a better compliance approach:

📊 The numbers (and what they tell us about the current state of compliance).

😰 The big problems with compliance.

🏆 How to rebuild it for a hybrid/digital world.

And before we get into those three things, it’s probably worth recapping the risks and struggles of compliance – because that context will be valuable as we rebuild our strategy for today’s workplace.

Jump ahead to:

The risks and struggles of delivering compliance training

The risks

The biggest risk is non-compliance and the financial or regulatory action that follows up! We all know GDPR could hit us in the pocket to the tune of millions, but even health and safety non-compliance could cost £150,000.

In both of those examples, we’re also looking at worse customer experiences. Whether that’s not handling their data correctly and sending irrelevant communications or them using our services in an environment that puts them at risk.

If we’re not following best practices, it might hit us from a productivity and revenue standpoint too. Whether that’s through repetition needed to do things the proper way or the implications of not doing things in the most efficient way.

And everything else is more or less a variation of those three things, so we don’t need to labour the point.

The struggles

We’re going to get into this in more detail, but it’s useful to set the scene! Managers trying to drive compliance often face the same hurdles again and again.

👉 Employees aren’t engaged, often because they don’t see the value or come to the table with bad experiences of mandatory training in past roles.

👉 The content available to managers hinders that rather than helping, with generic, cheesy, and boring formats making it a chore.

👉 The tech they’re using isn’t intuitive, or they’re doing everything manually, meaning the process of managing compliance is about as fun as stepping on an upturned plug.

The current state of compliance: what the numbers tell us

We touched on engagement already but this is really at the heart of compliance’s current problems:


A big part of that is they can’t see the value or how it connects to their role:

Only 45% of employees feel their company’s compliance training is specific to their team or role, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

And as L&D teams, we have to hold our hands up: these are things within our control.

Many of us are already applying the microlearning approach, creating specific resources that are relevant to real-life scenarios, and this means they can be revisited in our moments of need.

We don’t afford the same luxury to compliance.

The irony is, when it comes to subjects like regulations and guidelines, people want to dip back in and confirm they’re doing the right thing.

But, as the numbers point out, we’re still creating courses and click-next-slide beasts that are counterintuitive to our natural learning habits.

Getting employees to complete compliance training is the workplace equivalent of trying to give a dog a bath! You’ll get met with resistance, ignored altogether or have people just run away a lot of the time.

And in the same way that you can’t really blame a pooch for not wanting to get its paws wet, you can understand employee reluctance to mandatory training.

Too boring, too long, not relevant, too busy – building a word cloud of employee compliance perceptions would leave you needing a support dog to stroke away all the stress and negativity.

And that takes its toll on leaders too, especially the ones managing it manually! They’re chasing people up, firing out emails as deadlines approach and generally overwhelmed by the consequences of what might happen if they don’t hit the target.

So what if there was a better way? A world where engaging compliance training was the norm, and managers lives were made easier when it came to managing the process.

Good news, there is! HowNow, our modern learning experience platform, built for the way people learn today. We’ll explain how, but first, we need to explain the full scope of the problem.

Why do people hate compliance?

For a lot of reasons! It’s too long, it’s not relevant, they’ve struggled through it before, it doesn’t feel related to their role, and there’s often a scaremongering of potential consequences.

And we’ll break all this down now, with some of the key numbers you should know.

Why aren’t employees engaged or managers finding it easy to manage?

Bored learners aren’t engaged – and that’s the secret sauce for compliance

Without labouring the point, current compliance training just doesn’t push the right buttons. Employees think it’s too long, they don’t exactly love the formats and often find it irrelevant. Research shows that:

  • 70% of compliance is over 30 minutes long, while people want bitesize content that comes in at the 20-minute mark or under.
  • 34% say that they only skim-read content or tune out for video and audio. 15% bluntly revealed that they click through without reading or listening to the content.
  • Only 45% of employees feel their company’s compliance training is specific to their team or role.

When content is as counterintuitive as this, it’s no wonder we’re lacking engaging compliance training!

And L&D teams and managers are part of the problem. Whether it’s the content we’re creating or curating, compliance seems to miss out on the same microlearning approach we apply to other learning content.

That more is less mindset is probably why employees are so open about the struggles of engaging with the content, especially if L&D isn’t effectively segmenting people so that only relevant employees are completing compliance.

The risks and struggles of non-compliance

You have to feel sorry for leaders, L&D managers and anyone else responsible for compliance. They’re juggling quite a few balls, but they’re all on fire, and that poor soul is standing on a sheet of ice.

Non-compliance can have dire consequences, getting people to understand that value or importance is tricky, and the tools they’re using aren’t always making life easier.

The risks

At the most extreme end of the scale, GDPR errors can cost companies 10 million euros! Failure to maintain health and safety compliance could hit your pocket to the tune of £150,000, and even on an individual level, carers, drivers and those looking after children can all face fines when they’re not up to date with certain qualifications.

And that’s the worst case in 50 words. On top of that, you’ve got the top of the food chain expecting you to do it in a timely, accurate and potentially cost-effective fashion.

The struggles

We’ll also keep this brief because we’re going to explain these problems and how you can tackle them in more detail very shortly, but…

L&D teams are normally limited when it comes to content. They’re picking out a course from one provider that needs to serve multiple people, and so there’s a pressure to play it safe. As we know, this actually means they end up playing it boring in a learner’s eyes

At the same time, they’re either using technology that’s a hindrance or facing the biggest hindrance of no supporting tech at all! Either way, they’re under a mountain of work. Updating spreadsheets, sending out reminders, trying to work out the overall progress at regular intervals. That’s how deadlines get missed, and employees who’ve completed training keep getting irrelevant emails.

Last of all, we’ve got the issues of reporting and visibility. When leaders ask for a real-time snapshot, legacy tech and manual management make that an arduous task. Not to mention the fact that not all compliance training needs to be completed at the same time. If health and safety is repeated on a yearly basis, that’s a year from the moment each employee last finished it – and that will be different for every employee.

Ultimately, this teaches us two things: Compliance needs to be easy to manage for managers and engaging for the end user.

Using HowNow to deliver engaging compliance training EVERYBODY loves

Switching up the compliance content

From formats to length, we know that employees are frustrated with compliance content! And it’s tricky for L&D teams because they typically have to buy one course to cover everyone…

Not anymore! HowNow+ brings learning content for more than 10 business-critical topics into one single platform and subscription. All handpicked and from the best providers in the business.

This means you can offer varied and diverse content types without having multiple fees, invoices or platforms to manage! Everything’s delivered and reported through our learning experience platform.

HowNow+ The best learning content, one single subscription

Learn more about HowNow+ here.

Using data and integrations to segment more effectively

Remember that less than half of employees feel their compliance content is relevant to them and their team! And that’s because it’s often rolled out to people who *might* be relevant, rather than everyone it *will* be relevant to.

Taking the time to segment your audience not only overcomes this obstacle but it’ll help you rebuild compliance’s reputation. You’ll soon have people saying, “This is something relevant to me, and it’ll probably help me perform my role better.”

HowNow helps forward-thinking companies achieve this in two simple ways:

  1. Integrate with your HRIS to use employee data in delivering learning content. From when someone joined to the qualifications they’d achieved in previous roles, this is a useful weapon in your relevance arsenal.
  2. Building groups in HowNow and delivering the right content to the right people. Let’s say you’re a global company with sales teams across the world, in places where the rules and regulations differ. By building regional sales groups, you can assign relevant content to relevant audiences.

Automating recurring content in clicks

Imagine everyone needs to complete the same course by the same date, seems an easy enough thing to manage. In practice, it’s typically more difficult, but the biggest challenge is when compliance needs to be met by multiple people on multiple dates.

Let’s say there’s a course each employee has to do on a yearly basis, with the new deadline determined by their last completion date. This is where legacy or lack of tech can make L&D a living hell – you’ve got to keep track of each date, chase each person up and get it all done by each individual deadline.

We’ve got the solution! A single toggle lets you set content with a renewal cycle, automating its delivery in the future and sending reminders via email, Slack and Microsoft Teams. You set that renewal cycle, we do the rest.

Recurring Dates feature to manage compliance and repeating courses

Reporting in real-time

We mentioned managing stakeholders earlier, and that’s because it can be one of the most stressful parts of compliance. The CEO knocks on your door and asks how many employees have completed the required courses.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could answer in a matter of seconds?

HowNow provides real-time reports into compliance, helping you understand who’s compliant and who needs chasing up! Filter by course, job role, Users and other criteria to build even more relevant snapshots of your compliance picture.

Our latest update also adds a handy tab to all @Must Do content, allowing people to see what’s essential before focusing on the next steps of their learning journey.

HowNow's Must Do compliance reporting feature

If you’d like to chat compliance or see these features in action, book a demo today and we’ll be in touch!

Check out our other compliance training resources


Want Easy And Engaging Compliance Training? HowNow Helps You Do Both!

Nov 1
5 min read

A deeper look at current problems with compliance: where you might be going wrong

Is compliance your opening move for learning and development?

When people launch a learning platform, they often lead with the thing that needs to be done: compliance.

But they don’t think of the consequences for long-term success.

If we want people to buy-in, we have to shorten the time to value! How can we solve a problem or enable performance in a short period of time through L&D?

As we know from the numbers, people already struggle to see how compliance is relevant to their job. And when the pay-off isn’t clear or takes a long time to arrive, that becomes even more difficult.

It also creates a negative feedback loop around your learning and learning platform in general.

Poor Compliance Experiences Creates Negative Feedback Loops

I spent 10 hours on this course > there was very little direct benefit to my job > why should I learn again in the future?

We’d be better off launching with relevant content that has quick impact, reduces time to value and builds a positive feedback loop.

You might have a compliance-driven culture (and this creates a negative L&D brand)

A quick test is to ask people what comes to mind when you mention learning and development.

If they answer, that’s when people are chasing me to do mandatory courses once per year, you probably have a compliance culture.

And that’s the enemy of buy-in! If this is how people view the L&D function, you won’t have the engagement, credibility or reputation needed to drive performance.

What’s the alternative?

Outcome-focus, impact-driven, performance-obsessed – however you frame it, you need to ensure you’re helping people overcome challenges and do their job better.

We’d typically call these impact or performance-driven cultures, where learning is built around adding value by tackling real problems people face or helping close the skills gaps needed to perform at a high level.

And this is still a mindset you can use around compliance to help rebuild the perception of L&D.

You’re not using data effectively to build a compelling narrative!

Which of these is more likely to win over stakeholders and learners?

A) We’re 100% compliant, woohoo.

B) We’ve now reached 100,000 customers, and the details for every single one have been kept up to date and compliant.

This means we’ve been able to send relevant and targeted communications to each person, helping to drive a customer satisfaction score of 93%. Here’s what some of the team had to say about the training’s impact on their performance…

Obviously, it’s B! You will have evidence, both number-based and anecdotal, that demonstrates how compliance has driven performance. If you use it to tell compelling stories that apply to the context of your business, you’ll stand a better chance of winning people over.

Stop doing things the way they’ve always been done

Compliance sometimes feels like the solution to a problem we forgot a long while ago!

Why? Because we’re often copying the template others created without considering our exact problems.

Common signs of this include: rolling out mandatory learning to everyone rather than people it’s relevant to, using standard click-next courses without thinking about employee experience, and sending blanket reminder emails regardless of whether people have completed the course or not.

This is another bugbear for learners, receiving reminders for courses they’ve already completed because admins are managing the process manually or without being targeted.

5 Common Problems With Compliance Training

Compliance doesn’t consider how information will be put into practice (and therefore it doesn’t feel relevant)

Even if you’re buying a standard off-the-shelf course, you could add some context around it to make it more relevant and applicable.

You’ll typically find this useful when doing X, here are some examples of when Y course can help, Z employees used this when dealing with…

It’s a very easy thing we can do on our end to ensure compliance feels more connected to what people do.

But it’s indicative of a wider problem: are we creating situations where people can put what they’ve learned into practice?

And what we’re talking about here is context! Yes, we bought a GDPR course, and it might have tests or quizzes in it, but do we understand how that maps onto the conversations we have with customers?

Imagine you upskill an internal expert to run a mock client call that challenges people to apply data capture principles in a situation that feels like the real thing. Doing this, and using an internal expert, helps you build practical application in low-pressure situations.

Compliance is like a failing relationship at most companies! Two unhappy parties, plodding through a process that, deep down, they know doesn’t work or bring them any joy.

Learners are fed-up with content that bores them to tears, and managers are close to tears being the nagging bore who demands that mandatory training is completed.

Why? Well, it’s the way compliance has always been done! The formats, the faces, the processes – they’re tried and, in our opinion, not tested enough for their suitably today.

But that’s an excuse that’ll no longer stick – because we’re in the hybrid working era now! Almost everything about how we work has moved forward while compliance has stood still (generally speaking).

Not on our watch! This blog post will help you unpick compliance and reframe it with a mindset and approach that works for today’s employees.

Here are your four rules for rebuilding compliance in the age of hybrid working:

Rule One: Compliance shouldn’t be your opening bit with a new learning platform

Your company gets a new learning platform. You gear up for launch and decide getting the mandatory compliance training out of the way is a no-brainer. It’s got to be done at some point, and that way, you can move swiftly on to the interesting stuff, right? Plus, your people will be excited now the tedious part’s out the way.

Wrong, by that point, the damage might already be done.

To truly understand why this is a bad move, let’s travel back to Christmas 1989 – months after the very first Game Boy was released.

The Game Boy lesson: A good experience trumps practicality or process

Once you’d torn open the wrapping paper and realised your Christmas wish came true, the first thought was sticking a game in and seeing what the console had to offer.

There’s no way you’re sitting down and reading the instruction manual!

The joy is in playing the game and coming back to the instructions whenever the excitement finally died down, or you couldn’t figure something out on your terms. The impact and experience of playing the game convinced you it was worth coming back to the manual and figuring it out all properly. That way, you could go again and be even better at the game next time.

Very few parents are forcing their kids to read the manual cover to cover before letting them play a game or two on Christmas morning.

The same mindset needs to be applied to compliance and learning platforms! By making it the first thing you do after launch, you are that nagging parent who insists the instructions are flicked through before you do some learning that you enjoy or makes you better at your job.

Do you really want to be the L&D Grinch?

Probably not! So what if we flipped that traditional approach on its head and made L&D level one about content that makes a difference and not your people disinterested. That leads us nicely to Rule Two:

Rule Two: Compliance shouldn’t be the heartbeat of your learning culture

Many companies have compliance-driven learning cultures, and you could be one of them!

Learning at these organisations is often about forcing people to complete mandatory training, first and foremost. Giving people new skills or the knowledge to overcome business challenges and truly make a difference are afterthoughts or never even thought about.

This essentially drives a train through L&D’s reputation, influence and credibility in the business.

What if I have a compliance-driven learning culture!?

An easy test is asking people what comes to mind when you mention learning and development. If their response is an anecdotal story of being chased up to complete some kind of mandatory training, that’s a telltale sign of a compliance-driven learning culture.

Essentially, you’ve got a massive PR issue on your hands. Neither learners or leadership view L&D as a valuable contributor to solving business challenges, meaning they won’t see the value in engaging with you or your initiatives.

So you can kiss goodbye to learner engagement and a seat at the executive table. That’s how damaging a compliance-driven culture can be…

What’s the alternative? Moving towards a performance or impact-driven culture

Nobody’s denying that compliance is critical, but we need a re-jig of our priorities and the timelines for which types of learning and training we implement.

Like our Game Boy scenario, our priority has to be helping people solve real challenges and have an impact in doing so. That not only helps people get better at their job and overcome hurdles that prevent them from doing so, it shows them the value in learning. Meaning they’re more likely to do it again!

And if the senior leadership team are seeing L&D’s influence in solving problems and developing people, you’re more likely to get that seat at the table.

Rule Three: Forget everything you thought you knew about compliance

If there was ever a rulebook that needed ripping up, it’s the compliance one! Too many people follow the way things have always been done, and too few are questioning why and whether it actually works for them.

Mind-numbing click-through courses. Ridiculously long content. Rolling out a tsunami of content to absolutely EVERYBODY in the company. Everyone who’s completed mandatory training knows the struggle, so it’s time we gave L&D the wake-up call it needs and re-shape it for remote working and hybrid employees.

Here are the common bugbears or questions your employees might be too polite to tell you about.

Our compliance content’s too long and too boring

There’s no sugar coating it, a lot of compliance is built around boring topics. At the same time, it’s pretty damn important, and there’s a lot to cover. That’s how we end up with incredibly long compliance content.

Research has revealed that 70% of compliance is over 30 minutes long, while people want bitesize content that comes in at the 20-minute mark or under.

Surely this can’t be the best format?

If you’ve ever done of these very long compliance courses, you’ll have probably encountered the ‘click next slide’ format. Wondering if there will ever be an end to the next slides or if this is simply your life now.

It might also be a next video or next recording format, but the point still stands that this repetitive content is not warmly received by learners.

34% say that they only skim-read content or tune out for video and audio. 15% bluntly revealed that they click through without reading or listening to the content.

  1. Speak to your people and understand the formats that work best for them.
  2. Recognise that you can achieve consistency while using different content.

Meet HowNow+ 👋 The best learning content in one single subscription

A common misconception is that in order to achieve compliance and consistency everyone has to complete the exact same compliance training course from the exact same provider.

It’s entirely feasible to use video content from one provider and microlearning resources from another. But it’s rarely practical. You’re managing compliance in two different places, with two invoices to pay, two processes to manage and two sets of reports to cobble together.

HowNow+ The best learning content, one single subscription

HowNow+ offers you handpicked resources, for business-critical topics, from expert providers in one single subscription and one single platform. Meaning you can achieve that compliance dream of combining multiple resources with seamless delivery and reporting.

Why am I seeing this? It doesn’t seem relevant

Only 45% of employees feel their company’s compliance training is specific to their team or role. That’s worrying close to half!

Too often, compliance content is rolled out to everyone who *might* be relevant rather than taking the time to work out exactly who it’s relevant for.

And if people are spending time on content with all the issues we’ve discussed above, AND it’s not relevant, learner engagement takes another hammering.

Is this going to help me later? And where can I find it?

When compliance content is relevant, there’s a fair chance people will want to visit it on-demand later on. They might need a refresher, to quickly confirm something or help a colleague clarify a point.

But if they’ve just scrolled through 79 slides of course content, you can’t blame them for being sceptical about whether A) they’ll be able to find it later and B) the format will help solve their problem speedily.

Often, compliance doesn’t stop at completion. So think about where you’re going to store that content later, how you’ll organise it and ways you can signpost it to your employees.

Rule Four: If you’re an L&D admin, make the admin easier for yourself

For too many managers, the compliance process is a painstakingly manual one. They’re keeping a record of who’s completed it, sending reminders to anyone who hasn’t and constantly trying to keep it all updated.

Firstly, that’s not a good use of their time. Secondly, it hardly makes them popular with employees. Too often, blanket reminders are sent to everyone, even people who’ve already completed the training at hand.

And we don’t want you being unpopular or stressed under a mountain of manual work! Especially if you’ve got remote teams, lots of hybrid working, and can’t add the in-person touch to negate the hassle of being chased up for compliance.

Let HowNow manage the manual parts and keep you on top of compliance

Here are a few ways we’ll make compliance a far more efficient and enjoyable process for you:

Automate the reminders

If you set a completion date for a course, we’ll take care of the follow ups for anyone who hasn’t completed it. In the weeks and day running up to it and into the overdue notices for when the deadline’s passed (while notifying you that it’s happened, of course).

Set custom rules for recurring content

Chances are you’ll be completing elements of your compliance training on a recurring basis – most commonly this is a yearly requirement for things like health and safety, anti-money laundering or GDPR.

If that’s the case, simply switch on our recurring course option and set a timeframe for when it needs to be repeated after completion. We’ll take care of the rest, giving you back the time and energy you’d typically spend on recurring compliance content.

Recurring Dates feature to manage compliance and repeating courses

Report in real-time

When you are dealing with those crucial compliance topics, it’s incredibly useful if you can understand completion in real-time. That’s what we offer! In-the-moment snapshots of completion rates and the ability to understand who’s still outstanding in a matter of clicks.

Want to see how you can rebuild compliance using HowNow? Book a demo, and we’ll show you how!

Check out our other compliance training resources

Hybrid Compliance Training: Four Rules For Rebuilding In The Hybrid Working Era

Nov 1
5 min read

How to build an engaging compliance approach for the modern workplace

Now, we reckon there are four key components of an effective compliance approach. And we’ll be honest, a lot of them have shaped features you’ll find in HowNow.

So, while we talk you through these principles, we’ll also explain how we’re enabling fast-growing, modern companies to apply them using our learning experience platform.

But let’s quickly recap a few important things: we know that employees want content that feels relevant and engaging (better, shorter formats), managers often run compliance manually, and this results in a painful process for all parties.

More engaging/relevant content in the right length and format

We know what it’s like, you’ve got lots of compliance plates to spin and that often means you need separate courses for different topics.

The trouble is that this means you either need to spend budget on multiple courses, work with a number of providers and run it across a number of platforms.

The ideal solution would be access to specialist content providers, in one platform, with one single subscription…

😍 That’s why we built HowNow+ 😍

Bringing you the best in learning content, from 20+ curated providers, in one subscription and built straight into HowNow.

Offer a wider range of diverse, specialist content without the hassle of managing those multiple subscriptions. This also makes reporting easier, which is another pillar of effective compliance training…

Real-time reporting and taking a more data-driven approach

Compliance is also about stakeholder management. Whether it’s department managers or senior leaders, they’ll be coming to you for updates on how compliant we are.

The trouble is, when you’re managing the process manually and aren’t measuring compliance in frequently-updated and organised ways, you struggle to answer those questions.

That also means you’re often unaware of who is and isn’t compliant, which influences your communication around the topic. You’re either reminding people too late or reminding people who’ve already completed it.

In HowNow, we provide real-time snapshots into compliance, allowing you to report to others when it matters and act on the most current compliance data.

Filter by course, job role, Users and other criteria to build even more relevant snapshots of your compliance picture. And you can even mark content as Must Do to provide quick clarity into what is a mandatory resource.

HowNow's Must Do compliance reporting feature

Integrating with other tech and tools

These last two principles are here to help you tackle the manual tasks that waste time, starting with duplicating data entry.

If there’s already all the learner data you need in your HR tool, why would you duplicate all of that in your learning space?

It’ll only open up the ‘every time someone leaves or changes roles, I need to manually amend that’ can of worms.

By connecting the two, you enable yourself to segment people based on data and deliver compliance to the right people.

At HowNow, for example, we integrate with tools like HiBob and BambooHR, empowering people to build learner groups based on job roles and departments – this means we’re only delivering content to the people it will be relevant to, not the ones it might be relevant too.

This also brings data like previous qualifications and joining date into your learning space, which is useful for compliance content that needs to be completed at regular intervals. Speaking of which…

Finding a tool that makes compliance more manageable for managers

Think about the amount of manager time that’s wasted manually sending reminders for recurring compliance content.

And there are extra wasted minutes on top of that for the poor managers who desperately try to jazz up those tedious emails… “It’s that time of year again” – it’s enough to make you shudder.

What if we said you could never write a tedious compliance chaser or send a manual reminder again!?

When content needs to be completed at repeat intervals, HowNow allows you to mark it as recurring, set a time period, and ensure that automated reminders are sent out to learners.

It’s simple as that and looks like this:

Recurring Dates feature to manage compliance and repeating courses

Meet the LXP that supercharges your people development

From bringing all your resources to the end of a single search to empowering subject matter experts to share wisdom with teammates, HowNow is designed to give your people the skills and knowledge they need to perform their role effectively, everywhere they already work!

Let us show you how 👇

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