How Compliance Training Is Evolving

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Summary: From leveraging the widespread use and accessibility of smart devices and the advantages of Virtual Reality to protecting against cyber attacks and promoting inclusion, technology and Millennials are redefining the delivery, content, and focus of compliance training for a new generation of workers.

Is Compliance Training Evolving?

Hiring in the United States is expected to rise in 2019 [1], and each new employee in the door will have a set of rules to follow, both from external bodies, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), as well as the internal morays that support a positive workplace environment. But it all boils down to compliance and making sure every member of an organization is following the rules.

Compliance training can help organizations set themselves up for sustainable success, but it’s not a static, one-and-done venture. Learning and Development professionals must keep up with compliance training trends and developments if they want to keep pace in their respective industries.

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The compliance training landscape is irrefutably evolving in response to technology and a new generation of workers. So, how can organizations shore up their footing in the shifting terrain?

A Focus On Usability, Immersion

Every month, U.S. adults spend an average of 88.5 hours on their smartphones, and 90% of that time they’re using mobile apps. Today’s workforce is accustomed to responsive, mobile-ready technology, and compliance training is beginning to follow suit.

Responsive, Mobile-Ready UX Wanted

Nearly 70% of people use their mobile devices as a learning tool, and today’s compliance trainees want a modern Learning Management System that’s similarly mobile-friendly, responsive and available anytime, anywhere they are.

In fact, 70% of learners feel more motivated by mobile training than Learning andDevelopment on a computer [2]. Mobile eLearners also study for approximately 40 minutes longer than students on desktop computers, and smartphone users demonstrated 45% faster course completion rates than those using computers.

Virtual, Augmented Reality Join Ranks

Once the sole domain of gamers, Virtual and Augmented Reality are now helping people learn about a wide range of topics, including compliance training.

Virtual Reality is particularly useful for safety training. Imagine learners safely experiencing the consequences of risky workplace practices, such as violating safety norms and procedures.

While the implementation price tag for Virtual- and Augment-Reality training is still a bit steep for many organizations to include in their learning management strategies, experts predict costs will continue to drop.

Web Content Accessibility Is A Must

Not only should an organization’s websites be accessible to all users—sighted or blind, deaf or hearing—those same standards must apply to their online training offering.

The latest update to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines aims to provide a single shared standard for web content accessibility that meets the needs of all individuals, organizations, and governments around the world.

While the details of these recommendations may change from year to year, it is the job of Learning and Development leadership, and organizational leadership in general, to partner with web developers and content creators to make sure content will pass muster.

Increased Needs Revealed

In the wake of recent social justice movements, such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, and high-profile privacy breaches, like the 2017 Equifax data breach, smart organizations are recommitting to compliance training to prevent similar public blunders and their costly consequences.

Cybersecurity And Privacy Protections

Organizations lagging behind on cybersecurity and privacy compliance training can at least take solace in the fact that they’re not alone. According to a Clark School study at the University of Maryland, there is a cyber attack every 39 seconds [3]. Researchers found that hackers attacked the computers in the study an average of 2,244 times a day.

From client and customer compensation to clean up and data recovery, the fallout from a cyber attack can be a severe hit to an organization’s checkbook. The average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $7.91 million [4]. Juniper Research data indicates that as more of the business world’s infrastructure gets connected, the cost of cybercrime and data breaches will skyrocket [5]. Its research suggests the average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150 million, and cybercrime will cost businesses more than $2 trillion in 2019.

Attorney Matt Fisher, a partner with Massachusetts-based law firm Mirick O’Connell, told Human Resources Today one of the top compliance issues in 2019 for healthcare specifically will be strengthening HIPAA security and compliance.

“Breaches continue to occur at a steady pace from a combination of both internal and external causes such as hackers, viruses and other malicious attacks,” Fisher said.

Indeed, in October 2018, an insurance firm was the target of the biggest HIPAA fine ever. A whopping $16-million penalty was levied after a series of cyber attacks caused the largest health data breach in U.S. history [6]. The breach exposed sensitive information of more than 78 million patients.

Harassment And Discrimination Prevention

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) indicates that employment discrimination charges increased in 2018. The EEOC reported that they rose from 84,254 in 2017 to almost 87,000 [7]. Consequently, it is critical that we start being more proactive in compliance training to help reverse this troubling trend.

The embarrassing press is bad enough. But a poor reputation in these sensitive areas can cost an organization more to fill each job vacancy. Now that Millennials constitute the majority share of the working population [8], it’s necessary to start taking their needs into consideration to appeal to them as a prospective employer. As both prospective and current employees, members of generation want their employers’ values to match their own [9].

Joint research from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative indicates that when Millennials feel their workplace culture values diversity and inclusion, 83% of these workers are actively engaged [10]. That’s a 13% engagement increase compared to Millennials who feel their employer doesn’t encourage an inclusive culture.


[1] Employment in the United States from 2009 to 2019 (in millions)

[2] 14 Mobile Learning Statistics That May Surprise You

[3] Hackers Attack Every 39 Seconds

[4] 10 cyber security facts and statistics for 2018

[5] 13 Alarming Cyber Security Facts and Stats

[6] Anthem Pays OCR $16 Million in Record HIPAA Settlement Following Largest U.S. Health Data Breach in History

[7] EEOC Releases Preliminary FY 2018 Sexual Harassment Data (

[8] Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force

[9] The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018

[10] The millennial majority: They’re here, they’re moving into leadership, and they’re driving transformation says Deloitte and Billie Jean King leadership initiative (

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