By Peter Sandford
Executive Vice President, NXLevel Solutions/PharmaCertify

So what does Swedish furniture maker Ikea and most compliance training have in common? I think the question should be more like what should they not have in common. The answer to the second statement is; the learning experience.

If you have ever started the process of building a piece of furniture from Ikea with a heightened level of excitement, only to have that excitement turn into frustration as you attempt to follow the supplied directions, you understand the mixed emotions that come along with a poorly designed learning experience. You’re excited to have something to show for your efforts, but it’s not an exercise you ever want to go through again.

The same can be said about standard healthcare compliance training. At least with the Ikea furniture, you can reference the picture in the catalog or online during the assembly process to see what will be the fruits of your labor. The carrot if you will. The same cannot be said about compliance training. Most learners don’t necessarily look forward to taking the training, let alone fully recognize how it can actually impact their job, and their company, in a positive way. In other words, they can’t see themselves sitting in that cool chair or using that new desk.

Compliance training does not and should not have to be an uninteresting exercise. Learners should not go through the training thinking “Why do I need this” or “I don’t get how this is going to help me.” Just as you can always look at the picture during the Ikea assembly exercise for motivation, learners should have a clear and positive picture of why compliance training is a critical part of their job. They need to “see” why.

Clearly stated learning objectives should be more than “To comply with federal, state and company regulations.” Your learners know this. They should clearly state how students will learn to understand the varied regulations, know how to apply those regulations to their day-to-day efforts, and comprehend how understanding this complex regulatory environment that they work in will help protect them, protect their company, and make for a more productive and positive work experience.

However, just as Ikea believes that those crazy pictures with a few words are enough to easily get you through the assembly process, learning objectives that users can relate to won’t mean a thing if the content and learning experience doesn’t back up those objectives and provide the learner with “real-world” compliance scenarios. Don’t just have learners read the regulations and policies and then expect them to answer some questions. Use the available tools present with today’s technology to bring that content to life and put it in context for the learner.

Don’t make the modules any longer than they need to be. Remember that frustrating feeling during the furniture assembly when you realized that you’re on step seven of a twenty-one step process? If the content requires a longer learning experience or seat time, break it up into multiple modules. You don’t need to assemble the entire dining room set in one long session. And finally, use the final assessment as a way to reinforce the real-world nature of the content, not just a way to get them to show a passing score for your records.

When you’re finally finished with the Ikea assembly process you should have something to show for it, and hopefully it even looks like the picture! The same holds true with your training, after completing a compliance program, learners should be able to “see” how the training looks in their real world. Having this vision and focus will  lead to a more productive, confident, and compliant sales experience.