What’s more difficult than ensuring training compliance? It’s designing training for compliance topics! Ever since the setting up of the ICH in 1990 and consequent harmonization initiatives, compliance is one of the most important guiding principles of the healthcare industry. It is surprising how deep compliance permeates in a healthcare organization- it is present, indirectly and directly, in every organizational function, however removed from explicit compliance activities. Therefore, compliance training needs to be provided at both the organizational, functional, and local levels.

That’s a lot of training for an individual to complete. And in the rush for meting training completion deadlines, the true value of being compliant is lost. According to a study conducted in 2013 by the talent consultancy, CEB, only 39% of responders agreed or strongly agreed that the compliance training they received was applicable to their day to day work. Unfortunately, an even lower number, 33%, said that the compliance training they received was engaging.

Compliance training has historically suffered from information overload leading to un-actionable knowledge, ie, knowledge that cannot be applied. How can we design ‘sticky’ training that is effective and engaging, and makes a value impact on the Learner? Based on two of my recent compliance training projects, following are some of the best practices I have discovered.

Not all components of these best practices are training related. Unless the actual compliance processes and documents we are training for are designed logically, easy to use, frequently updated, and owned by a clearly identifiable group of experts/ individual, there is no way simply upgrading the training will fix a gap in compliance. Such activities can lie outside the scope of the training project, but it is helpful to make the project stakeholders aware at the onset of the project.

1. Help Learners live Compliance: Our consistent finding is that while an organization usually has voluminous documentation supporting compliance, they do not have clarity and practical guidance on why, when, and how these SOPs should be used by different job roles to their day to day tasks. Therefore, the first best practice is to quickly identify what people have to do, and what they need to know to complete these tasks successfully. Sometimes, the solutions needed for this  are not part of the training program, but relate to organizational improvements- simplified and updated processes, clear demarcation of responsibilities, initiating conversations, etc.

2. Show Learners that Compliance matters: Tell the story with examples- how compliance gaps have affected organizations historically. Focus on the value of individual compliance and the result of personal actions on the organization’s compliance- both positive and negative.

3. Shift from Knowledge to Competency:

  • Position the training: why are we doing this?
  • Present policies and procedures: what do we need to work with?
  • Make the training practical and readily understood by employees, for e.g: completed examples that illustrate
  • Align to the corporate training and performance mechanism: respect local requirements
  • Allow for safe practice within the program
  • Test for knowledge AND application, and only AFTER the above steps are completed

4. Initiate a Culture of Compliance:

  • Start early- include a Compliance Training component right from induction training
  • Align learning with company values and brand ethos
  • Leaders need to walk the talk
  • Update inefficient processes and outdated documents
  • Leaders need to walk the walk and take part in learning to model that everyone is responsible for compliance
  • Build informal platforms for people to discuss compliance- online communities, monthly drop-in sessions, etc
  • Measure and report back on how programs are influencing business metrics and values