Compliance Instruction Must Adapt to the Age of Distraction

This week is Compliance Week, a good time to reflect on what’s working and what’s not working relative to compliance training. Training is a critical pillar of any compliance program for organizations obliged to comply with the government or regulatory policies and procedures (and that’s pretty much everyone).

Organizations typically require 100% compliance with training requirements, and training must be completed at least once, if not a number of times a year. This history of annual compliance training has, at least in part, generated one of the biggest problems with compliance training; lack of learner interest and engagement. More often than not, employees will say that it’s boring, time consuming, irrelevant and has dry content. Often, it is not refreshed, and so employees are seeing content that they may have seen many times before. That may check the box, but will do little to change behavior or culture.

Microlearning Could Help

Microlearning or short-form, single-concept learning that involves only one learning objective per lesson is ideal for the time-crunched, interrupted adult learner schedule.

The adult working population is distracted. A University of California-Irvine study found that employees work for only about 11 minutes before being interrupted by a call, an email, an instant message or a co-worker, and it takes, on average, 25 minutes for the worker to return to the original task. Those interruptions take a toll on learning. In another study by Carnige Mellon, people interrupted while taking a test answered questions correctly 20% less often. Microlearning works into the distracted worker’s schedule.

Microlearning also helps to prevent cognitive overload. Too often, annual compliance training is composed of 4 or 5 modules that attempt to deliver multiple take-aways per module. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, learning in bite-sized pieces makes the transfer of learning from the classroom to the desk 17% more efficient and a German study indicates that short content drives over 20% more information retention.

The trick then is to deliver different microlearning modules to cover each learning objective in the compliance training program. These modules can and should be composed of a variety of engaging content; quizzes or polls, infographics, videos, games, multimedia interactives, and reading material. One word of warning, chopping up a 60-minute video into five-minute videos isn’t effective microlearning. Length is only one element of a good microlearning program.

To further enjoy the benefits of Microlearning, organizations can leaverage adaptive learning designed content, making the complete learning process intelligent by personalizing delivery for each learner’s knowledge and capabilities.

As an added bonus, a discussion we often have with clients is that they want to make training easier to update. Certainly, it is easier to update six minute modules vs. a 60 minute course, and any needed updates can be quickly rolled out, at any time, as a microlearning module.

Whether you replace your entire code of conduct training program with microlearning modules or enhance your long-form training with microlearning components, your organization will see improved employee engagement, retention, and behavioral change. Download our “Ineffective Compliance Training is Risky Business” eBook to learn about five additional methodologies that can improve your compliance training program. Or contact us to analyize your current training programs to determine what is needed to speed time to competency, increase retention, boost engagement – and ultimately change behaviors. –

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