When I hear the word compliance, the hair on the back of my neck stands up, and I start to get a bit shivery with fear. Big overreaction? Perhaps, but I’ve read George Orwell, and in my mind, compliance leads to book burning. Don’t worry. We’re not talking about that kind of compliance here. Compliance training is all about companies, their employees, and upholding the law. Sounds simple enough, right? Let’s take a closer look together. 

What is Compliance?

When we discuss compliance concerning business and learning, we are talking about regulatory compliance. Regulatory compliance refers to the ways a company or organization adheres to business-relevant:

  • laws
  • regulations
  • guidelines
  • specifications 

Why Do Companies Care About Being Compliant?

In short: because if they don’t, they could go to jail or pay massive fines. Regulatory compliance management becomes more important as different industries are held accountable by more laws. This isn’t your grandad’s business world anymore. For the most part, there are more regulations now than ever due to past abuses of power. 

Striving to achieve business goals such as turnover alongside regulatory compliance is no small feat. Thankfully, businesses often hire compliance officers whose sole role is to understand their business area’s complex legal mandates and laws. Alongside this, dreaded audit reports are regularly made to ensure that if the business ever has to prove they have been compliant, they can do so with a minimum effect on the business’s day-to-day running. 

Additionally, companies have a corporate social responsibility to their employees. Many jokes are floating around bullying and harassment training, but we all want to work in places free from discrimination. Compliance training can help make our day-to-day working lives feel more safe and accepting. It sets the tone for what is or isn’t considered okay within the company culture. 

Real-World Compliance Example: GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, is all about how businesses handle personal data. If a company does not follow GDPR, it can be fined up to 20 million euros. In simple terms: this is not about pocket money. These privacy rules have to be followed by anybody who makes their businesses available to EU citizens. Sorry, UK, US, and rest of the world, you still have to learn about it in your compliance training. 

What is Compliance Training?

Compliance training is any learning that seeks to ensure regulatory compliance. Most of the time, companies are trying to prevent workplace problems and broader industry laws and regulations. Because these policies are often very job-specific, you can expect to do a new set of compliance training whenever you switch jobs, sometimes even within the same company. It is a tick box exercise for many companies, so they can show every employee has technically learned what they need to know about rules and regulations. Always be prepared for that surprise audit. 

What Makes Compliance Training Engaging?

As compliance training is a regular occurrence for most employees, it can easily lead to eye rolls and disengagement. However, since money, reputation, and prison time can be at stake, it’s important this training is as engaging as humanly possible. 

  • Go with the times: Make use of self-motivated learning so people can learn more about how to stay compliant from the comfort of their mobile devices. 
  • Multimedia: Make use of digital clips, audio, and text. Most people struggle to learn when they skip from one slide to the next. 
  • Update: Don’t keep the compliance training the same from year to year. It’s a surefire way to have people’s eyes glaze over. 
  • Gamification: Create some competitive flair amongst team members. Set targets and challenges. Don’t underestimate the power of a shiny badge in an email signature. 
  • Storytelling: Compliance training can be dull. Don’t let it be. Tell stories about what’s at stake, show scenarios that the learner is likely to encourage in their workday.

Positives of Compliance Training

  • Reduces Risk of Non-Compliance: if you have compliance certificates directly linked to an employee, you can pull them up if things go wrong to understand what happened. Did the employee struggle on the quiz? Did they accidentally sit an outdated training? Has it been too long? All important data! 
  • Ensure Safe Workplaces: Whether a workplace feels safe physically or mentally is essential. The safer people feel and are, the less likely they are to miss work. It’s a win both on a personal level and on a business level. 
  • Define Organizational Values: The chances are high that compliance policies directly inspire your company’s values. Compliance training is a great place to get these across to all learners. 
  • Ethics: When employees feel they are acting ethically, they are more invested in their actions. Management can help this by working following compliance rules and codes of ethics. 
  • Audit Trails: Have built-in assessments at the ready if you ever need to prove you have been compliant. It is not enough to provide compliance training. You need the data to back it up. 

Negatives of Compliance Training

  • The Reputation of Being Dull: reputation is a tough nut to crack. You will have to work double-time on engagement, especially if the compliance training left people yawning. 
  • Information Overload: in its very nature, compliance training includes a lot of complicated legalese. Not all employees will be used to that kind of language, and they may struggle. Start with essential policies first while people’s minds are still able to take on information. 
  • Scary: Some jobs I’ve had have had such dire compliance training that I’d feel overly cautious doing my job for weeks. There’s making people aware of possible dangers, and then there’s making them all too anxious. It can be a difficult balance to strike. 


Much of what can go awry with compliance training can be attributed to the techniques used to get them across to people. The need for regulatory compliance isn’t going to go away in business. It is well worth investing in modern systems to ensure edTech is up to scratch for climbing these mountains of law and regulation. 

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