Leveraging Social Learning to Improve Compliance Culture



For most organisations, traditional training is a major component of their compliance strategy. As mandates from regulatory agencies become evermore demanding, companies are dedicating more and more resources to compliance training.

Whilst companies can use a tick box approach to demonstrate that employees are completing their necessary compliance training, they are still open to massive fines from regulators as tick box measures don't go far enough and certainly don't necessarily instill a compliance culture.

The likelihood of a breach in the workplace can be reduced by fostering an overall compliance culture in which policies and procedures are coupled with training. We know regulators view such measures favourably, particularly when training is topped off with quizzes or assessments. The impact of such robust measures is that in the event of a breach of any laws, the regulator will most likely fine or reprimand the individual rather than the organisation. Depending on the legislation, this is especially the case if a director or senior manager is involved.

The challenge is that compliance training is traditionally viewed as boring and training staffs struggle to overcome that objection. Compliance is all about managing risk and the risk is huge if staffs aren't engaged with the organisation's corporate desire for a culture of compliance.

So, how can social learning be leveraged to improve an organisation's compliance culture?

A recent survey1 of more than 500 professionals shows that the carriage of compliance training lies with both HR and L&D. That's not to say that they necessarily put the measures in-place initially.

Compliance Study Demographics

Compliance Study Demographics

The principal findings are that although more than half of the organisations surveyed are regulated by an agency that requires tracking of learning activities, less than half felt that they were prepared for compliance reporting. Not only is it onerous for the end user, it appears to be onerous for those responsible delivering the training too!

Compliance Study Principal Findings

Compliance Study Principal Findings

The biggest challenges that organisations face with compliance training and associated reporting are:

  • adequate reporting for an audit
  • completing the task, as it is manual and onerous
  • having compliance training viewed as a priority and it being completed in a timely manner (including the all-important follow up training)

So, what are the solutions available to make all of this less painless? For an increasing number of HR and L&D professionals, social learning technology is the solution.

By social and informal learning we mean...

— the learning that occurs (mostly) outside classes, courses and curriculum models. It's just in time! It's relevant and personal!

Think about the two most significant learning experiences you have ever had. Where did they occur? Mostly likely the answer is "outside of the classroom".

According to the 70:20:10 model, based on research by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger for the Center for Creative Leadership, 70% of learning and development occurs through experience, 20% through others and 10% through structured courses and programs.

70:20:10 Model

70:20:10 Model

Traditionally, communication within business or learning settings has been formal and hierarchical. However, the new paradigm (driven by new generations) has seen it shift to more informal and less structured communication. A staggering 90% of learning is from others and from the person's own experiences.

Take, for example, the news. Traditionally, we relied on newspaper, television or radio to learn what was happening around the globe. Now we are shifting to keeping up-to-date from others via online media and social media.

A recent State of Social Technology study2 found that over 50% of organisations indicated that Learning and Development was one function that their organisations either currently supplemented or was planning to supplement with internal social networking technology.

State of Social Technology

State of Social Technology

With this increasing adoption of social learning, compliance training may finally start to be driven by the end-user and not the organisation (pull rather than push). But how does this meet the needs of the regulators? They still want proof — auditable proof — that people understand how to behave and conduct themselves in accordance with the myriad of workplace regulations that sit across our day to day working life. The answer to this is simple. Social learning is perfectly positioned to increase the efficiency and rate of knowledge absorption. Participants have engaged willingly and enthusiastically in the learning process because of the dynamics of social learning.


  1. Compliance training is too important to leave to formal learning alone, particularly given the struggle organisations have in engaging staff with the traditional methods.

  2. Now is the time to embrace social learning as:

    • it allows just in time availability of knowledge that is relevant
    • increases knowledge retention due to its relevance and timing
    • reacts quickly to compliance changes due to the 'real time' nature of it
  3. Given the timing of learning and its subsequent relevance to the individual, social learning facilitated by innovative technology has a huge role to play in fostering and embedding a culture of compliance of the sort the various regulators are looking for.


  1. SilkRoad Compliance study presentation, SilkRoad COO, 2012
  2. State of Social Technology & Talent Management, SilkRoad, June 2012

Copyright © Tim Hird

About the Author
Tim Hird

Tim Hird has been in the online learning compliance governance and risk market since early this century, working with Business Leaders developing Governance Risk and Compliance (GRC) strategy, framework and execution. As GRC has evolved, there is now much more focus on developing a culture of compliance and less about passing the annual audit. Tim may be contacted via his LinkedIn profile at

We Recommend
Training Projects Template Pack

Manage all phases of your training program design and delivery with our popular Training Projects Template Pack. Don't waste time developing project documents and spreadsheets from scratch. Visit the Training Projects Template Pack information portal to download the free User Guide and start using these practical and customizable templates today.

Share This

  • twitter
  • facebook
  • linkedin
  • googleplus
  • gmail
  • delicious
  • reddit
  • digg
  • newsvine
  • posterous
  • friendfeed
  • googlebookmarks
  • yahoobookmarks
  • yahoobuzz
  • orkut
  • stumbleupon
  • diigo
  • mixx
  • technorati
  • netvibes
  • myspace
  • slashdot
  • blogger
  • tumblr
  • email
Short URL:


From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance

Learn proven strategies for finding performance roadblocks.

Align your training programs to real needs.

From Training to Enhanced Workplace Performance

Develop productive training partnerships with key stakeholders.

Objectively measure and report training program impact.

With more than 20 customizable forms, templates and guides.

Buy Now