Online Compliance Training – the Importance of Training Scenarios

Relating online compliance training to learners’ real-world experiences is absolutely crucial.

Let’s face it – most people doing compliance training are not doing it by choice. So if you can’t make the training relevant to their business life then you’re not going to get the cut-through you need for the training to be effective. Which means the huge cost to the business represented by compliance training is simply wasted.

Where the compliance training is delivered online – with all the efficiencies and timing flexibility that come with that – there can be some special challenges in maximising relevance.

Strategies for maximising relevance in online compliance training

There are a number of ways of ensuring that learners feel the training they are sitting is relevant to their lived experience.

1. Content relevance

More and more, regulators are recognising how important it is that compliance training be relevant to the industry, the sector, and the individual business. To that end, online compliance training that is customised to the individual business can be extremely valuable. Read our article here on meeting these regulator requirements.

An added benefit of this level of customisation is the extra level of relevance to the learner’s daily activities that it brings.

2. Job role relevance

One-size-fits-all training across a business no longer cuts it. L&D teams need the ability to allocate modularised content to specific job functions. We have seen cases where customer-facing staff are allocated financial crimes training that includes modules on insider trading. It’s not only a waste of valuable time, it’s significant negative for training success.

Language/location relevance is also important. If your training can be made available in multiple languages that increases the feeling of relevance for learners who, although they may be proficient in English, nevertheless feel more comfortable in another language.

3. Real life scenarios

Compliance training that incorporates examples that resonate with learners, that replicate experiences they have actually had, or could easily imagine having, grounds the learning in the learner’s lived experience in a way that nothing else can do.

Using video to present real life scenarios is a great way to make them even more effective.

Criteria for successful real life scenarios

There are 4 criteria that need to be met in order for the scenarios to work effectively.

Job role tailoring

Not all learners have the same day-to-day work experience, so any compliance training that an employee receives should be tailored to his or her job role. it is necessary to identify your learners and their unique challenges and tasks. For instance, in the health insurance sector, there are customer-facing or call centre staff who deal with complaints, sales staff working away from the office and potentially interacting with competitors, and claims processing staff who deal with clients’ private data.

Another consideration is the location of learners, which is particularly important if your organisation is global. For example, a scenario for an employee in the United States could be different from a scenario for an employee in the same role in Japan or the Middle East, as different countries and regions have their own customs.

Content relevance

Just as training content needs to be relevant  to learners’ day-to-day job role, scenarios must also cover familiar territory in order to arouse curiosity and give learners a sense of familiarity.

Scenarios that work this way include

  • legal proceedings or news items that involve the industry or sector
  • compliance failures within your industry or at your organisation or a competitor
  • content that your subject matter experts think relevant or significant

Scenarios should be succinct enough to allow for quick reading, and be interesting and relevant to the specific concept they illustrate


Not just the presentation – see our video above – but also the contant itself needs to be lively.

It should go without say that scenarios need to be engaging. Yet we have seen scenarios that are purely text-based and read like this

Kaldoun works on the counter at XYZ Bank.
One day a customer comes to the counter and tries to open an account without having the necessary identification.
What should Kaldoun do?

The Situation

The situation needs to be interesting. It needs to be sketched out in a way that will be meaningful for the learners. So, again, reflecting the job roles and experience of the learners, the scenario should not go into more detail than is necessary.

The scenario should not provide too much information up front. The aim here is to help learners reflect on their role and make them curious, so they want to see what happens next.

Lending artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative

The Characters

To ensure a scenario is as true to life as possible:  the characters that appear in the scenario should reflect the diversity found in the organisation.

The Story

Expand upon a scenario by adding additional information as the training progresses. This type of narrative helps create a flow and maintain learners’ curiosity.

Formative Questions with Answers and Feedback

Putting the scenario at the beginning of a compliance training module helps to arouse curiosity and ease learners into the content. Following up with other learning content helps them place that content in the context of the preceding scenario.

Ending with a quiz or other knowledge check related to the scenario helps reinforce the concepts covered. Feedback should be instant and informative.

Scenarios are a simple yet effective way to motivate learners, arouse their curiosity and help them understand how the training relates to them. By providing real-world, relevant stories, you can help ensure that learners receive training positively ultimately change their behaviour.

‍GRC Solutions have for many years been using cutting edge learning design techniques to incorporate scenarios into our training. View our course library here.