Compliance Training: Babies, Bathwater & Bullshit

  • SumoMe

CLICK NEXTMany industries that serve the public are mandate that employees take a certain number of hour worth of training to satisfy regulatory requirements. The intent of this is, of course, to protect the public by educating that people that have control over their well being. I’m on board!  Who wouldn’t be?

You know what happens when a public institution gets their hands on a great idea?  It becomes a well intentioned, misguided waste of time and public funds.

Regardless of the success of the regulated training, as long as companies by these modules from the powers that be and they get enough employees to click ‘next,’ the people who started the initiative are well compensated and they pat each other on the back until their arms fall off. “Huzzah! We’ve done it again! The public is safe once more!”

The people that have control and influence over the welfare of the public need to be aware of new regulations and practices.  The issue is with the ham-fisted way that the material is put together and delivered. If you’re going to jam something down someone’s throat, at least cut it up into bite sized pieces and add a little flavour to it.  What are the actual impacts to the public and the people that have to take the training?

I’ve recently had to complete my monthly computer based training modules (thus the blog post) and there were some things that could have made the experience more valuable. One module was and hour and a half long.  At first, it didn’t seem that bad.  Click through a few slides, hit a ‘knowledge check point’ or two, and keep on keepin on. But then I hit the 35 minute mark and lost all motivation.  People love long stories, just look at Game of Thrones, Lost, or any number of other shows.  The trick is to make the content size manageable (not to mention compelling).  Split the fucking thing up into 15 minute sections where I can get the hang of one core concept and fit it into my day where it works for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so important that I can’t fit a 90 minute time-block into my week, but I’ve got a terrible attention span, and that’s for stuff that I like!

By the time you actually get to the end of the ‘training’ you’re fit to be tied but then you’ve got the test! Each and every question that comes up leaves you frantically typing into your favourite search engine to get answers since you can’t remember the content that you read for the past hour and a half.  You’ve got a vague idea that you’ve read that same line on a slide but should it say ‘and’ instead of ‘but’? Was it above $25,000, or below? What does code 7 mean again for that specific field!  (Pro Tip: A ‘select all that apply’ question that has eight different options is NOT a single question!  It’s eight true and false questions at once). I’m confident that most of the time trick-like questions are the result of lazy question writing.  The intent of a test is not to trick people, it’s to confirm understanding of concepts. If you’re intent is to trick people, you’re a dick.

Content relevance is also a major issue. Specific tasks are not an industry wide job function.  Not everyone in a doctors office will stick a patient with a needle.  If the training is not relevant to the job, it cannot protect the public.  What it will do it encourage people to throw babies out with bathwater.  This once noble effort of public protection and responsibility has now gone from beneficial to benigne to detrimental.  Give yourselves another pat on the back, regulatory agencies!

I hold no ill will towards the companies whose employees have to take this compliance training, nor at the people who have to assign the modules to the employee.  I consider their role to be like Hades.  He’s only in charge of hell because it’s a job, someone has to do it. My frustration lies with the agencies (and powers that be) that spun a noble idea into a cash cow industry and at the companies that create the modules.  Companies that create material like this do not understand basic learning concepts or human needs.

So who actually benefits from all of this compliance training?  I’d like to say the public, but I can’t confirm that.  However, I’m confident that the companies that create the training modules see a nice bump in revenue every time a regulation changes.  I wonder where their funds go. Executive bonuses? Lobbiest pockets? Let’s just assume they make massive charitble contributions so we can put a happy little bow on this gift-bag full of garbage.

Here’s what I can do for you.  I’ll say a quiet prayer for you at the end of this month, as you make your second attempt at the test, with your coworkers over your shoulder and a search engine open.  Remember, we’re all in this together. Good luck.

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