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10 ways to boost engagement in compliance elearning


Compliance elearning has a reputation for being a boring chore but some organisations are looking for a new approach. Here are ten ideas to help transform compliance elearning into more than just another mandatory module.

Compliance is becoming even more of a priority for business. The latest PwC report reveals that staffing and budgets for corporate compliance are trending upwards, reflecting the growing complexity of regulation and the global nature of business. 

It is against this backdrop that compliance elearning is coming under greater scrutiny. Some organisations, particularly those in highly-regulated sectors, are no longer satisfied with ticking boxes; they want elearning that makes a genuine contribution to culture change.

The central challenge is employee engagement. The independent research group, Towards Maturity, found that more than 66% of organisations fail to engage their employees with their compliance training despite improved engagement being an objective for 98% of the businesses.

At Sponge, we think by making compliance elearning more creative, relevant and interactive it is possible to boost employee engagement. The following ideas outline some of the approaches which can help to achieve just that.

Interactive Video

Interactive video has great potential for compliance topics. As with regular video clips, it is able to increase the learner’s emotional engagement particularly if there is a real life narrative. But by giving them a choice about what happens next, engagement is further heightened. A passive activity (watching a video) is turned into one which requires people to get actively involved and make a decision. This aligns well with some compliance areas such as business ethics where learners can test out what they might do if faced with a particular set of circumstances.


Elearning games work best when there are real risks and real consequences in areas where the stakes are high such as health and safety, security and money. This makes elearning games (or game elements) a good fit with compliance. They are the antidote to boredom providing autonomy, mastery and progression for learners with healthy competition and rewards for achievement. Developments in technology and growing expertise means elearning games are becoming an increasingly affordable option for compliance training.

Relevant Scenarios

Relevance is a key issue for compliance elearning. There is nothing more likely to make people ‘switch-off’ than a topic they feel is irrelevant to their role. Using well-written, challenging scenario questions, that learners recognise as being real, can make a big difference to engagement levels. Elearning expert, Cathy Moore has some great ideas on scenario writing and finding the right questions.

Campaign Approach

A common mistake when it comes to compliance elearning is to offer it in isolation. This tends to support the tick-box culture; complete the module and forget about it. But to really drive engagement, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of the elearning, a campaign approach is required. This might include pre-learning notifications drumming up a sense of anticipation, through to post-module knowledge checks to gauge retention over a period of time.

Visual Design

Good visual design can positively affect the way learners respond to compliance elearning and encourage greater engagement. Naturally, the module must look good, but when design works well it can also set the overall tone and communicate the core messages of the elearning. Some design basics include keeping it simple, consistent, letting the content breath on the page and creating a natural progression for the learner.


Making compliance elearning available on a range of platforms is a relatively straight-forward way to boost engagement. By offering content which works on a number of different devices, learners have the flexibility to choose which device suits them best. Employees given the freedom to choose are less likely to view training as a chore. Multi-device solutions are now more accessible than ever before thanks to new technologies like Adapt. A single compliance elearning course built using this responsive platform will work across PCs, tablets and smartphones. Previously, separate versions might have to be built to maintain multi-device functionality.

Create a Brand

Brands are used in marketing to develop an easily recognisable identity which helps a product or company stand out. It can be a useful tool within compliance elearning to raise awareness and create a ‘buzz’ around the training. We created an original compliance brand for Tesco called Learning Leap which was built around the idea of learners taking a parachute jump from an aeroplane. This was visually represented by an interactive leader-board. Employees who had yet to started the training were shown as ‘leapers’ waiting to jump from the aircraft, those in progress were ‘learners’ drifting down with their parachutes and ‘landers’ were those on the ground, having completed the course.


It is harder to convince learners that a compliance module is relevant to them if it comes ‘off the shelf’. A more effective approach is to customise or tailor the elearning to suit the audience. Specifics rather than generalisations will have much more impact. Even within bespoke modules it is worth exploring whether every member needs to do the same training. It may be possible to branch the elearning so that managers, for example, do a version tailored to their role.


In the not too distant past, businesses might ask for compliance elearning that took 45 minutes or even an hour to complete. Times are changing, and more organisations now understand the value of offering much shorter modules of 20 or 10 minutes. This may create more challenges for the subject matter experts, compliance teams and elearning providers as topics have to be simplified into key messages, but the pay-off is huge. Learners will find it easier to fit the training into their working day, they are more likely to remember what they learn and less likely to get bored.

Try something different

Compliance elearning will only shake-off its old image if organisations are willing to be open-minded and try new things within parameters. Innovation and creativity are making a difference in the sector but it does require some courage to take a different approach. Compliance elearning may never be something that employees are queuing up to do, but by using some of the ideas outlined here, it can move forward from being a tick-box chore to playing an important part in creating a culture of compliance with the workplace.

View examples of creative, relevant and interactive compliance elearning.