Mandatory training shouldn’t consist of tired, dull material that learners click through without really absorbing. Let’s take a look at some tried and tested ways to encourage active learning of compliance-critical information.
Partly through the nature of being obligatory, mandatory elearning courses have tended to suffer familiar problems in terms of impacting learners. But it’s easier than you think to make courses more original and focused, engage learners, and positively influence behaviours.
First, let’s understand why mandatory training courses (also known as compliance training) haven’t always been well received.
What disengages learners from mandatory training?
Where it takes place in a classroom, mandatory training can too often be ‘chalk and talk’, and not very memorable. Plus, it’s usually one-size-fits-all training.
When mandatory training is delivered as elearning, it should be easier to target training and allow people to move at their own pace. However, learners could be unimpressed and fail to engage with learning if they feel that a course is:
- Repeating the same information year after year – taking up already precious time from their busy working lives for little return
- Inflexible – forcing them to undertake training at a set time or place which interferes with their schedule and interrupts their work
- Largely irrelevant to their work or full of information which is not related to their job responsibilities – a one-size-fits-all approach
- Extremely boring – for example, elearning with text-heavy pages, slow narration and design that feels out of date
- Provides too much information – making it hard for learners to remember and apply anything in the workplace
So how can we avoid these pitfalls and make mandatory training more successful? Let’s take a look at a few proven techniques.
1) Entertaining visuals make mandatory training more engaging
The traditional perception of mandatory training involves page after page of text in workbooks and manuals, as well as classroom sessions.
But imagine if you conveyed the material through animations and artwork instead, filling the pages with colourful characters and bright designs. For example, in one successful course we created for an organisation, the code of conduct module was in the style of a game show – and for each section that learners completed, they revealed part of a picture on a game board.
Leaflets, posters and campaigns promoting the message were used throughout the company’s offices. After just two days, nearly 500 people had completed each module, and the L&D team received excellent feedback from learners.
2) Storytelling is a powerful way of communicating messages
Listening, sharing stories and learning from others is innate to us and a really important way of imparting knowledge. When we tell each other stories and hear from practitioners in the field, it makes the issues we explore realistic and tangible. It also has the power to deepen our understanding and emotional engagement.
A good example of this is LEO Learning’s work with a large mining corporation that wanted to create more engagement in their health and safety training. We collaborated with them to create a highly believable training video about the realities of on-site accidents. The video was part of a wider blended learning programme and was shot on-site using local actors.
This approach gave mining employees a deeper sense of why and how accidents happen. They also developed a broader understanding of the culture of health and safety awareness required to prevent future issues and accidents.
3) Role filters help you to make mandatory training relevant
Role filters are an effective way of combating the risk of training losing relevance to learners, as well as saving organisations money by reducing downtime.
For example, if you have thousands of employees who all need to take one hour of mandatory training, that’s a lot of man hours for L&D to account for. If you reduce and refine the content, even by 15 minutes, that’s a huge saving of time.
And time saved equals money saved.
Role filters can also be created to meet the needs of dozens of different learner types. In the case of one airline we worked with, a complex role filter comprised more than 40 different possible pathways, combined with a rich mix of media, storytelling and masterclass videos to ensure learner engagement.
Of course, you may not require this many filters – you might simply want an extra module for a version of a course created for one specific cohort.
However you apply them, these filtering methods result in measurable savings in time taken for learners to reach competence.
4) Diagnostics allow you to focus training towards the learners who need it
A diagnostic tool is a great way to help assess which learners actually need training on an issue.
Let’s say you have thousands of individuals and are unsure who needs to take some mandatory elearning. If your learners took the course the previous year or as part of their induction, they would only have to repeat the full course if they fail the test – and then only on topics relating to the parts that they failed.
This approach avoids forcing people to retake a course they have already completed, covering points they already knew.
Another benefit is that this approach reduces downtime spent on mandatory training. Regular testing also ensures that people remain compliant.
Taking a fresh approach to mandatory training
Influencing behaviours through mandated elearning courses is not easy. But by applying imagination and creativity to training, engagement rates can be dramatically improved.
When they’re used effectively and combined with measurable goals, learning technologies can play an immense role in making your mandatory courses successful and establishing a culture of compliance across your organisation.