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Keeping Up With the Evolving Regulations: Compliance Training and Microlearning

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A Changing Compliance Landscape

The corporate landscape is seeing rapid increases in regulations. The Thomson Reuters Cost of Compliance 2019 Report predicts that three-quarters of firms should see a rise in regulatory information in the next year, and with it comes the need for better compliance training. On top of that, there has been a higher demand for businesses to have more integrity and accountability as well as an improved corporate culture.

Can the usual model for compliance training keep up with this rapidly evolving landscape and the need for accountability?

Adapting Compliance to the Modern Business

Training is most effective when the content is made relevant to the company’s culture.

There’s one common misconception about compliance training: that because it is focused on strict policies and procedures, it must also be just as strict in its training delivery method. Countless professionals have undoubtedly suffered through compliance courses that have felt like a textbook brain-dump of legal jargon. But, as educational psychology and best practices in instructional design have often shown us, training is most effective when the content is made relevant to the company’s culture and processes and is personally applicable to individuals.

So, how can compliance training become more relevant and applicable while adhering to regulations as they continue to change?

Opportunities From Microlearning

One potential fit is the ongoing shift that L&D professionals are making toward microlearning. While it’s tempting to think of microlearning as a hot trend, its ability to make learning more effective is hard to ignore. These shorter, more focused modalities can make training more engaging and, more often than not, learners actually prefer microlearning to traditional methodologies. And with the ever-changing regulatory landscape, being able to develop a curriculum that is able to speak to specific policies and procedures while also staying to-the-point and relevant to learners will be a boon for L&D professionals. Microlearning modalities could be the solution to meet the oncoming needs of compliance.

A Good Match?

As new laws and regulations are passed, updates to training content will have to keep pace.

Microlearning is not without its set of challenges, however. A potential pitfall is that smaller chunks of content could lead to a lack of coherent messaging, so lessons that may feel disconnected. If one lesson feels more relevant or applicable than another, employees may walk away thinking some policies or regulations are more flexible, which could cause problems for the company. Moreover, learning theories like cognitive constructivism emphasize the importance of actively building upon prior knowledge and creating relationships between ideas to improve critical thinking. This would prove difficult with disjointed content.

But, as with any good microlearning curriculum, a solid design from the start is key. By considering how content pieces fit together, you can avoid the reduced knowledge retention that comes with disjointed and seemingly irrelevant content.


Compliance training will continue to change as the corporate world evolves. As new laws and regulations are passed, updates to training content will have to keep pace. A well-designed microlearning curriculum is a decent alternative to traditional compliance modalities, and insight from learning theories tell us how to make it work well. Reframe your ideas of compliance training and you may discover a more effective method for your learners.