Compliance & Ethics
Jessica Donohue Image
Jessica Donohue
Senior Specialist

Regulatory compliance training: Build a better program

August 29, 2023
0 min read
Professionals strategize on a new regulatory compliance training program

Many organizations see regulatory compliance training as a box they have to check. But it’s an opportunity to build a vibrant, risk-based culture to protect against costly missteps.

“Creating — and maintaining — a culture of compliance, where concerns are voiced, countenanced and addressed, engenders employee trust and creates an atmosphere that largely prevents both ethical and legal infractions,” says Michael Volkov, CEO and Founder of Volkov Law Group.

At its most basic, regulatory compliance training educates employees about key regulations they must follow. At its best, regulatory compliance training inspires employees to take a more active role in promoting compliance.

This article will help you build a more effective compliance training program by explaining:

  • What topics regulatory compliance training should cover
  • Who should create your compliance training program
  • Compliance and regulatory training requirements
  • Four key components of effective regulatory compliance training
  • How to build your own training course

What are the topics of regulatory compliance training?

Well-designed regulatory compliance training should cover key risk areas related to local, state and federal regulations and requirements. Compliance training can only reduce your organization’s risk exposure if it effectively educates your employees about the most significant areas where risks may arise and what they can do to help. Topics typically include:

  • Industry standards
  • Privacy regulations, like HIPAA
  • Anti-bribery and corruption
  • Workplace harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Ethics

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it should spur some consideration about your business’s risks and how employees can actively prevent them. Remember, even though the cost of building regulatory compliance training can be high, not training also comes with a cost.

“Generally speaking, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But in a compliance context, an ounce of prevention is now worth a treasure trove of gold,” says Volkov.

More specifically, disengaged employees — often a product of poor training — can cost companies up to $550 billion in lost productivity.

Who is responsible for regulatory compliance training?

There is no one person responsible for regulatory compliance training. Instead, multiple employees at multiple levels work together to deliver engaging training that meets the right requirements.

The people responsible for compliance and regulatory training include:

  • Board of directors: The board defines which rules and regulations the company should adhere to. This is the basis for employee training.
  • Chief Compliance Officer (CCO): Also a board member, the CCO should actively oversee the design and deployment of the compliance activities employees will learn about through training.
  • Compliance Officers/Specialists: Team members specializing in compliance should ultimately create and distribute the training.
  • Management: Department leadership should model compliance for employees and encourage them to take regulatory compliance training seriously.

What compliance and regulatory training is required for companies?

The Department of Justice’s Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, updated in March 2023, offers overarching guidance about the features well-designed regulatory compliance training programs should have.

As helpful as their guidance is, there are other types of compliance and regulatory training required for companies, some of which are enforceable by law. These include:

  • Industry regulations: Most industries have a regulatory body that enforces certain employee conduct in service of larger compliance and ethics goals. The SOX Act and the SEC, for example, issue requirements for financial services regulatory compliance training, while healthcare regulatory compliance training should always highlight HIPAA.
  • Laws: Companies must follow applicable laws in their state, country and municipality. Considering your location is essential since laws governing topics like discrimination or payroll often vary from state to state.
  • Company policies: Many corporations also have policies they expect employees to follow, like codes of conduct. Regulatory compliance training is a great space to talk to employees about topics in the employee handbook and any emerging issue areas.

Four compliance training components regulators will look for

According to Volkov, regulatory compliance training isn’t just for training’s sake.

“Simply adopting training for its own sake is an ineffective strategy that will not satisfy regulatory expectations,” Volkov says.

Instead, consider how these core compliance training components can enhance the effectiveness of your program overall:

  1. Materiality: Your training should cover topics that are deeply relevant to your business.
  2. Planning: Carefully design and execute training rather than trying to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach.
  3. Availability: Training should be available often and in multiple formats, including microlearning.
  4. Implementation: Roll out your programs gradually. Offer individual modules or training on key topics first rather than rushing to buy a block of training courses.

How to build effective and engaging regulatory compliance training courses

Building an effective regulatory compliance training course can require a sizable investment in time and money. But truly engaging training can save you money in the long run by inspiring employees to champion a culture of compliance that prevents costly regulatory fines and penalties.

Here’s how:

  1. Assess your risk: Educating your employees about regulatory risk starts with understanding what those risks are. Thoroughly analyze your risk landscape to identify the areas that pose the greatest threat to your organization.
  2. Identify relevant laws and regulations: Next, assess the laws and regulations that are in play in your industry and area. This ensures you won’t forget any key topics that can lead to regulatory consequences.
  3. Develop a training schedule: How often do employees need training? And at what intervals? Tools like microlearning can unlock training opportunities outside of once-a-year, half-day training. Understanding how often you’ll provide training will help you determine your content needs.
  4. Design content: Comprehensive training libraries can be a great resource, but it’s important to supplement that with content unique to your business. Consider leveraging behavior science to change how your employees engage with compliance activities.
  5. Track completion: How will you determine if employees genuinely engage with training? Proving that employees complete courses is a key part of satisfying regulations. You can make it fun, too. Incorporate gamification, like end-of-course quizzes, to make progress reports more exciting.
  6. Make training accessible: Even the best training is useless if employees can’t access it. Employees should be able to pull up training anytime, anywhere — even if they work remotely.
  7. Adopt regulatory compliance training technology: The larger your organization gets and the more complex regulations become, the more difficult it can be to manually manage compliance training. Technology can make the learning experience more engaging while still satisfying regulatory standards.

Regulatory compliance training online

When it comes to compliance, there’s a lot for you and your employees to keep track of. You need to stay abreast of ever-evolving risks and regulations, while your employees must remain vigilant to avoid exposing the company to legal or regulatory action.

Online regulatory compliance training from Diligent unlocks the world’s largest compliance training library. Tap into engaging modules your employees will genuinely enjoy on critical topics ranging from diversity and data privacy to healthcare and third-party compliance.

Learn more to see how effective regulatory compliance training can be.


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