Regulatory Compliance Training: How to Get Started
As an HR professional, how do you and your employees view regulatory compliance training? Is it just an annual inconvenience to be endured? Or is it a vital part of an employee development program that enriches staff and makes your company a better place to work? Given the choice, I’m pretty confident that you’d choose the latter.
Chances are good that your organization already has some training in place around regulatory compliance. Maybe you’ve begun to realize that it could be so much more; maybe you’ve begun to see it less as a checklist of hoops to jump through, and more as a tool… a tool to create a more inclusive, safe, and productive workplace.
If that’s you, great! With that realization, you’ve taken the first step. But what now? How do you actually go about getting started on creating a more engaging, more effective regulatory compliance training program?
Note: The steps below outline how to go about building a regulatory compliance training at a company or organization. We do not cover the steps nor training needed to become a regulatory compliance officer, which is a separate topic.
Start by Thinking about Risk
Compliance is more than checking a box to say you did it. It is managing your company’s overall exposure to risk.
Failure to comply with the laws and regulations that govern behavior in the workplace exposes companies to a number of risks. Legal repercussions and lawsuits, fines, audits, or a hit to their public reputation are all on the table. Internally, non-compliance can result in accidents and injuries, employee conflict, or high turnover.
All of this means that not providing training for things like safety, anti-harassment, and cybersecurity can be very costly. There is always a “bottom line risk.” For example, cybersecurity failures due to no training or poor training can cost a company $7,220,930 to $14,441,860 in a single year!
To create the most comprehensive program you can, start by thinking about the different kinds of risk your organization is exposed to, and how training could help minimize that risk. Some areas could include:
- Industry regulations and standards
- Privacy regulations and standards (for example, HIPAA or Sarbanes-Oxley)
- Workplace Bullying
- Workplace Civility
Incorporating all four of these areas into a compliance training program will give employees the necessary information to minimize the risks for themselves, their co-workers, and the company as a whole. In the long run, it costs much more not to train employees than to create a reliable program that will keep everyone safe.
For a more complete list, see our article “What Should Be Included in a Compliance Training Program?”
Stay Current on Local, State, and Federal Requirements
Requirements change over time and differ from location to location. Your organization should have a plan for identifying those requirements and making sure that your training stays up-to-date with them.
For example, here are some areas where compliance requirements tend to change:
Industry-Specific Regulations. It often happens that a major news story will bring about new legislation, with new regulations, for a given industry. Examples are HIPAA laws for medical services, Sarbanes-Oxley for accounting and finance, SEC rules for banks and financial institutions, and FDA controls for food handling and pharmaceuticals. Often, these rules are refined over time and so training programs need to reflect clarifications and changes.
Federal, State, and Local Laws. Companies are subject to the laws of the municipality, state, and country where it is located. Harassment and discrimination laws can vary from state to state, for example. This category also covers payroll rules, like withholding tax or the minimum wage rate. This can be a minefield if there are remote workers in other states.
Corporate Policies. Companies usually have an employee handbook or code of conduct. These rules must be communicated to the staff clearly and concisely. Incorporating this communication into other compliance training is preferable to simply distributing a written manual. Topics should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect new laws and new practices—for example, a company should be clear on its stance on things like recent changes in marijuana laws, LGBTQ discrimination, and hybrid office rules for its workers.
Does your company do a good job of keeping up with all of the above? Are you adjusting training materials appropriately? If so, great! If this is a struggle, you are not alone. That is precisely why many HR departments outsource the creating and/or updating of training materials. For example, we ensure that our own library of off-the-shelf compliance content is always up-to-date, and we even offer to customize it to better suit any one client’s particular needs.
Think about the Schedule and Program
How often will you need training on each topic? Do employees take all the training during onboarding? Is it according to a set annual schedule? Some companies may choose to offer a comprehensive compliance training package when employees are onboarding, with more specific and time sensitive topics offered throughout the year. Some will simply keep a training schedule that proceeds annually or quarterly.
Also worth thinking about are refresher courses or “booster” training. It’s human nature to forget material over time, so why not build retraining right into your schedule? Finding new ways to present older material helps, too. (Whenever I’ve attended a training session, I would always meet at least one person who has been with the company for a long time but who still says, “Huh, I learned something new this time around!”)
Scheduling and programming training can be better tailored to the individual when paired with a learning management system (LMS), such as our own HSI LMS. This allows you to track progress and completion for any course or track. You can also provide follow-up material or even add quizzes to make sure material is understood and retained. Compliance topics can be built in right alongside existing employee development.
Be Prepared for Training Across a Hybrid Workplace
Regulatory compliance training poses additional challenges with remote working made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic. Work-from-home suddenly went from being a perk to a necessity. For some companies it has become a viable option going forward. A recent Talent Management & HR article estimated that one third of businesses expect at least half of their staff will continue to work remotely.
Blended-learning classes that can be completed and tracked online are the best solution to maintaining compliance benchmarks. Clear communication about what is expected from employees while they work from home is more important than ever. Keeping data secure, client confidentiality, and employee privacy takes on a whole new meaning when everyone is in their own home. Management will also need to be clear about company policies on working hours, expense reimbursement for things like internet usage or home computers, and if and when people must be physically on-site at the office.
HSI’s training is already a blend of microlearning videos with online quizzes and tracking. It was designed to be accessible wherever and whenever an employee chooses to use the content. While many companies are playing catchup with new WFH rules, HSI has been excelling at it for years.
Think Beyond Just Buying Content
Let’s be honest: There is plenty of off-the-shelf (OTS) training content out there, ready to plug into your compliance program. This is what too many companies do: Purchase training videos, then force their employees to watch them so they can check a box and say that they can be compliant with regulations.
When I talk to prospects and clients, this isn’t what they actually want. They want to go beyond the bare minimum and the “check the box” approach. They want employees to be safe. Safe from harassment and discrimination. Safe from workplace bullying and violence. They want employees to feel safe so they can be creative and innovative. Our clients go beyond compliance to a full employee development program. They open up the full library so employees can access training at any time. They can rewatch required courses and search for the topics they are personally interested in.
If you would like to preview our regulatory compliance training courses, sign up for a free trial of our HSI LMS, our learning management system. You can watch all of our workplace compliance and business skills videos.
- What Should Be Included in a Compliance Training Program?
- How is Compliance Training Different from Other Training?
- Compliance Training Topics