While most professionals will embrace training that enhances their expertise or provides them with new skills, there’s an exception to that rule: mandatory compliance training. By nature, humans tend to resist any action that’s “mandatory” or “compliant.” (But if you work in compliance, don’t take that personally; it turns out some of us are wired that way from childhood.)
Framing anything as an obligation may start things off on the wrong foot with your audience before their training even begins. But there is an upside. By following some simple steps to make mandatory training in the workplace fun and enjoyable, training designers can help change students’ attitudes and reduce their reluctance.
Make Learning Enjoyable – Again!
Many adult learners associate training — and eLearning especially — with a monotonous, “click and read” experience that’s entirely passive, as opposed to the more investigative or interactive Q&A approach they may have enjoyed in school. As a result, when they hear they must attend a mandatory training, they shy away.
Here are 6 ways instructional designers can turn “boring” compliance training into a more rewarding (and memorable) learning experience.
Understand Your Audience
If instructional designers don’t know their target audience, chances are that the outcome of their efforts will look like “monotonous, blackboard and chalk experiences” to the end user. That’s why conducting a needs analysis is a critical step in crafting customized training that actually connects with students.
One way to do this is by interviewing the stakeholders — both the organization that’s issuing the training and the managers or administrators whose staff or volunteers will directly benefit from it. Also, if possible, instructional designers should seek permission to engage directly with potential learners.
- Use surveys and online questionnaires to find out more information about learners.
- Find out what they would like to learn BEFORE building the course, and figure out the gap between what needs to be covered in the training and learners’ existing knowledge.
- Understand students’ idea of what a “fun” course might be, and try to accommodate it if possible.
- Keep in mind that learners’ life experience, age, and demography often plays a major role in how they view training. For example, while most Millennials and Gen Xers enjoy highly interactive training, Baby Boomers typically prefer clear lectures with lots of examples and guidance.
Personalize Your Instruction
The best way to get buy-in from learners is to create content that resonates with them. For instance, if you’re developing an online course for a group of banking professionals, all of your examples, exercises, and case studies should be directly applicable to the financial nature of their job.
- Use titles, designations, keywords, slang, etc., that resonates with the group
- If possible, include actual real-life scenarios related to the organization or industry (but make sure the employer approves that usage!)
Make It Lively
Using a PowerPoint deck with lots of bullet points is the fastest way to kill enthusiasm. (Fun fact: the less you put on each slide, the better.)
Instead of drowning your audience in bullet points, try including GIFs, animations, video, audio, and other multimedia components. These elements shouldn’t distract from your point; they should reinforce or complement it. Also, vary your pacing and delivery so your audience doesn’t get lulled into a rhythm they can easily tune out.
We’re social creatures, which means no one wants to be helplessly talked at for an hour.
To help reduce the monotony of “skim-click-repeat,” include training segments where learners get to interact with your course through quizzes, puzzles, “what would you do?” exercises, and other aspects that require their active participation in order for the course to proceed. But make sure you’re investing your students’ focus in the most meaningful areas of the training. To ensure ideal content retention, you should create activities that highlight the application of the information, not just the comprehension and knowledge levels.
To Laugh or Not to Laugh?
Humor is a great tool for connecting with audiences and creating memorable moments. However, while humor can spark interest and increase engagement, it could also embarrass or offend some learners depending on the topic and the tone. Therefore, it is crucial to exercise caution and clearly understand your audience prior to weaving any anecdotes or punchlines into your training.
If you’re unsure whether your attempts at humor will be effective or not, remember: humor that relies on everyone laughing at someone is likely to polarize or divide your audience, while laughing with someone can bring your audience together.
Keep It Short
Research shows that longer course segments lead to lower completion rates.
Keep your training modules short (especially online) to help your learners stay focused. Additionally, when modules are quick and concise, students will be less resistant because your training will move briskly and they’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment as their progress through your course rapidly adds up.
At the end of the day, adults do not like to be forced into doing something – and that’s exactly what mandatory compliance training is! However, if learners know that your training events aren’t going to be boring or bland, they will be more likely to embrace them eagerly, have fun while learning, and, most importantly, retain the lessons.
To see how CourseArc helps you easily include interactive elements in the courses you build, try one of our sample course modules.