When training an employee in an on-the-job task, it’s relatively easy to tell whether or not instruction was effective. If the worker is able to emulate that skill and subsequently produce an excellent product, then it’s a great sign training was successful. With compliance training things are less clear, as staying in compliance does not necessarily indicate that a worker has been trained properly. Here’s how to gauge the effectiveness of your employee compliance training.
Consider Your Violations (or Lack Thereof)
Many managers see that they have had no compliance violations in the past year and assume their training process is working perfectly. This can be a recipe for disaster by producing a false sense of security. Suddenly a situation arises, an ineffective aspect of training is revealed, and one big workers’ comp claim causes fiscal disaster. That’s why having zero violations does not equate to an effective employee compliance training program on its own.
When it comes to OSHA, on a yearly basis there are twice as many violations as there are inspections. That means that, on average, each inspection results in two violations. For some businesses, that is already too many. Do you know what constitutes “too many” violations in your industry? Is one violation per year cause for major concern? There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and it will take reflection to determine the correct expectations for your business.
Reducing the number of violations may be your chief goal, but don’t let it be your only goal. Establishing clear objectives in the planning stages of training is important for an effective program. What exactly do you want employees to come away with at the end of each specific section? And are you updating these goals as time goes on, altering them according to how your workforce is receiving them? Having a strong vision and tailoring training in this fashion maximizes impact.
Is Your Timing Appropriate?
There’s a reason that the phrase “timing is everything” has been used so much that it’s become a cliché. When it comes to employee compliance training, poor timing alone can ruin an otherwise perfect program. Do you take care in planning the dates and duration of training sessions? It can be tempting to piggyback compliance training onto other training sessions, but compliance training needs to stand on its own.
Separating unrelated trainings is important for retention, and that surpasses the convenience of attaching it to an already-planned conference or professional development day. Critical thought is needed to determine how many smaller sessions of compliance training will be most effective for your business. Also consider training frequency. For big topics, holding training longer than every 12-18 months may be a catastrophe waiting to happen.
It’s also necessary to check in with employees in between trainings. If you train once a year, talk to employees at the six-month mark to see if they have any questions. This gives them an easy opportunity to bring up a question without saving it for months until the next training. Otherwise they might forget it, and uncertainty is a breeding ground for compliance issues.
Who Is Accountable?
Perhaps someone at the very top enacted your current employee compliance training program, but they likely are not accountable for day-to-day training tasks. Accountability must be made clear throughout the organization. Which managers are responsible for which departments and employees?
If an IT employee violates a compliance regulation, does their IT supervisor take ownership for the gap in knowledge that caused that? Does the employee take ownership for their mistake if they were not trained properly? Thinking through these tough questions prior to training so that they can clearly be presented is essential for long-term effectiveness. Accountability is truly a mindset that requires identifying your risks and designating the responsibilities of your employees and managers accordingly.
Are Employees Truly Engaged?
How do you know if your employees are absorbing training information? During training sessions, are you actively engaging employees, or treating them like students in a grade-school classroom? There are many methods to conducting an effective employee training program, including taking your time, using technology, and going one-on-one.
Overall, the goal is to make training content and presentation interesting and relevant to employee jobs and actual tasks using their real work environment as an example and setting. Reading out of a manual or from a PowerPoint presentation is not enough to achieve employee buy-in. Switch up instruction methods to accommodate everyone from visual learners to book worms and everything in between.
Effective Employee Compliance Training
Nobody said employee compliance training was easy, but that is no excuse to let quality slip. Planning and implementing an effective training program takes a great deal of time and energy, and that unfortunately results in compliance becoming a distraction from regular business goals.