What to Include in Compliance Training

October 29, 2020

It’s the same at every job: an employee’s first day (or even week) is dedicated not to doing the work they were hired to do, but to learning HOW to do the work. Even if they have decades in the field, the new employee needs to be trained on the specific policies and procedures in place at the company.

While this type of training, known as “compliance training,” may seem tedious, it’s critically important for every new employee. Every industry has its own unique laws and regulations (and every organization has their own rules). Employers must take time to explain these policies to their new hires if they expect to have a safe and comfortable working environment. More than explaining, they increasingly need to ensure the lessons are retained and affect employee behavior.

What exactly should employers review in compliance training? Let’s discuss the most important topics you should share with your employees.

What is the Purpose of Compliance Training?

Compliance training is a mandatory training course that workers must complete to continue their employment with a company. Typically, compliance training reviews specific company policies that workers must adhere to during their time with the organization, though it can also cover industry-wide standards or laws.

Compliance training serves two purposes. First, it helps new employees understand the rules and expectations at their workplace. Training helps workers understand specifically how they should behave to ensure the physical and mental safety of themselves and their coworkers. Second, compliance training is an opportunity for employers to spell out all laws, regulations, and safety protocols, thereby minimizing their risk of legal action.

These benefits should be enough to guarantee that compliance training is always part of your risk management system. But compliance training is only effective if it is as interesting, memorable, and relevant as it is thorough. Therefore, it is important to include all the necessary topics in your training program and do what you can to make employee attention worthwhile.

Compliance Topics to Cover in Training

Your compliance training should be designed to create a safe workplace for every one of your employees. Make sure you use this opportunity to discuss all topics that relate to workplace and worker safety. These include the following:

Company Policies

As we mentioned earlier, every company has their own unique policies and procedures for handling their day-to-day activities. Even if an individual has years of experience in a particular industry, he or she may not understand the specific methods used in your organization. Compliance training is the perfect time to explain these company policies.

Make sure to spell out the company’s stance on bullying, drug and alcohol use, and any other important points that fall under your employee code of conduct. Fully explain the obligations of both the employee and employer, so that everyone understands how they’re expected to behave and the behavior they can expect in return. Reviewing your Code of Conduct and building a training that highlights the key items for employees ensures all your hard work isn’t wasted 5 minutes after an employee signs off on the training.

Workplace Safety and Violence

The National Crime Victimization Survey reports that Americans suffer from 2 million assaults and threats of violence in the workplace each year. As an employer, you should want your workers to feel safe and secure at your office – which is why it’s critical to give them the information and tools they need to combat workplace violence.

Your compliance training should include information on all forms of workplace safety. This includes safety protocols (e.g., the evacuation plan in the event of a fire, earthquake, or other disaster), how to spot the signs of workplace violence, and company policies for handling violent scenarios.


Most compliance training programs include some information about anti-harassment. They may define harassment in all its forms, and then state that the company does not tolerate this kind of behavior. While this is a great starting point, it is woefully incomplete training for the modern workplace.

Today’s anti-harassment training needs to be thorough. It should both define harassment and explain the appropriate strategies for responding to this kind of behavior. Employers should train their employees on how to intervene if they notice harassment in the workplace, as well as how to report it (and to whom). 

Additionally, employees should know the company’s policy for addressing harassment, so they can hold those above them accountable after an incident. Building trust between employees and management includes demonstrating that values are lived out and policies apply equally to everyone.

Conflicts of Interest

Many people have heard the term “conflict of interest” on TV or in the movies, but they may have an incomplete understanding of what that term means. As a result, employees may not always recognize when they experience a conflict of interest in their own work – and this simple mistake can mean big trouble for both the employee and the company.

It is important that you fully explain what a conflict of interest is for your employees during compliance training. Explain the legal definition in the clearest terms possible and provide some real-world examples (bonus points when the examples are directly relevant to the setting and challenges of your industry and employees!) to make things even clearer. It’s also wise to discuss the potential harms a conflict of interest can do to both the employee and the company at large. A clear discussion on this topic during training is one of the best ways to avoid legal penalties, settlements, fines, and distractions in the future.

Diversity Training

Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before, with people from different ethnicities, genders, sexual orientation, age, religion, and more all working together. This diversity is a great opportunity for innovation and outside-the-box thinking, but only if everyone understands the strengths of their unique team.

Diversity training should focus on the benefits that come with a diverse workforce. Spend time teaching your employees to listen to one another. Make sure they understand the value in having several different viewpoints working together. This will lead to a working environment that makes everyone feel safe – and likely, some incredible work from your employees.

Issue Reporting Procedures

Finally, one of the most important elements of compliance training is the topic of issue reporting. Your employees need to know that your company listens to them; this will make them feel valued within the organization. Therefore, it is important that you review the company procedure for reporting issues of violence, harassment, bullying, or and other issues.

Explain to your employees the best ways to report problems to HR. Make sure they receive the contact information for your HR managers during the training module. If your company uses a reporting hotline or a third-party reporting form, compliance training is the best time to introduce it to your employees. By taking the time to explain this process, you will instill a sense of trust between you and your employees.

How to Ensure Success with Compliance Training

Discussing the topics above is a great way to ensure your compliance training is thorough and informational…but how do you make sure it sticks with your trainees? Here are a few tips for keeping your training engaging and entertaining:

  • Use real-world scenarios and everyday language (no legalese) to help employees understand
  • Keep the training engaging with a variety of learning tools:  videos, quizzes, role-playing exercises, etc.
  • Use the results of your compliance training to improve areas of your business
  • Use third-party tools to ensure the most up-to-date compliance training

ComplianceLine is here to help you with thorough and memorable compliance training modules across a variety of industries. Contact us today to see how we can help you!