9 excuses for not completing compliance training and how to deal with them

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Published on 17/08/2020

Compliance training is mandatory, but for some people it’s the last thing on their minds. This blog will explore why some people take more convincing than others, and how to get your learners on your side.

Compliance training excuses

Excuse #1: I can’t do the training on my device!

Blaming technology is probably the most convenient way to get out of e-learning. A combination of bad technology and varying levels of digital savviness means there is a multitude of excuses for people looking to avoid expanding their knowledge base.


How convenient is the technology should be the first and foremost criteria when selecting the right LMS to deliver your compliance training. If there are more ways to access the training, fewer people will be able to use the issue of accessing the training as an excuse.

Most modern LMSs can support training delivery via common web browsers on a desktop, tablet and mobile devices. However, if there is the possibility of having a native iOS and Android apps, this is a plus as it allows learners to complete the training offline.

If by some magic the learner cannot access a web browser or does not have access to a smartphone then they are excused from the training.

Excuse #2: This training is impossible to use!

They say a good workman never blames his tools. In the case of learners, however, this is often not the case. Faults like small lettering, annoying formats, images and videos being unviewable or content not loading properly are undoubtedly complaints you’ve heard before.

The fact is there are many factors in e-learning that can all break the learners’ experience. These range from content shortcomings and platform features to technical issues and bugs.


There are 2 aspects of e-learning that can lead to negative reactions: content and technology.

In both cases, it is wise to test the training before the launch. Try using different devices, accessing it offline and online and using a weak or strong internet connection to minimise the risk of frictions when you finally launch the training. It is always best to do this before the launch as it can be very difficult to fix anything once the training is live.

When completing the final content checks and testing, pay attention to the size of letters and captions, typos, convenience of the format and the quality of multimedia etc.

It is also wise to carefully collect and monitor user comments and feedback. This will help you address ad-hoc issues in the content (e.g. expired links after the training is published).

However, the biggest barriers your learners will encounter when trying to complete the learning are technical issues and bugs. The first step in removing this barrier is to choose a reliable technology provider. A reliable provider will take your feedback and the feedback of your learners into account when applying new platform updates and improvements, enabling them to create a more user-friendly experience.

Excuse #3: Leave me alone – can’t you see I’m too busy?

Employees see their work as a higher priority than compliance training (and, let’s be honest, sometimes they’re not wrong…). It is also a common view that compliance training can be perceived as a work distraction in this time-scarce world.


It’s your job to help employees see that this training is important and that it will actually benefit their working lives. You also need to ensure that employees can complete the training quickly and efficiently, meaning they can return to work as soon as possible. The bare minimum you should allow for is that employees can take a break during the training or pause it if an urgent work matter arises.

Excuse #4: I’ve already done this training not long ago. Why are you bothering me again?

To the dismay of some employees, compliance training needs to be run periodically to satisfy the regulatory requirements. This means that you will usually have to go over the same or similar topics every year. For some employees, especially those in more senior positions, this can be a hindrance and oftentimes quite annoying.


How about changing up the format of the training from time to time? If last year was a course, why not try a gamified quiz this year? This way learners will go through all the must-know information in the form of a set of questions while also competing against each other.

After the quiz has been completed there may be those who show a lack of understanding around certain topics. Once these learners have been identified, you can then run a recap of the awareness course to make sure everyone is on the right path.

Excuse #5: E-learning is stupid! Just let me read through the content without having to click the ‘next’ button over and over again!

The science around learning shows us that simply reading over the content does not guarantee that you will actually learn something. That is why e-learning platforms offer a variety of learning formats to activate and engage the learners and make the information stick.

Learning content that is composed of never-ending packs of slides, detached from the learning and just directing learners towards the ‘next’ button on the bottom was given a bad rep from e-learning professionals a long time ago.

If you find the right partner, e-learning can allow you to create interactive, dynamic and enjoyable learning experiences. E-learning has a host of opportunities for you to get the best out of your learners, but it’s up to you how creative and deliberate you’ll be in making the most out of it.


When selecting your learning formats, consider what you want to achieve with those formats and what information they will include. For example:

  • If you’re providing context around must-know information, use a course. This course can then be split into digestible chunks of vital information and enriched with plenty of multimedia.
  • With any good-to-have (but not essential information), separate this from the mandatory content into an on-demand format.
  • For the enforcement of key messages and to reduce training fatigue, use interactive scenarios that relate directly to the issues in your must-know information.
  • When you’re assessing knowledge, use a simple test format. Avoid using elements like flashy animations or music so that extra stress isn’t added to the learner during the examination process.
  • For questions that are not part of a test or exam, experiment with gamified approaches. This will refresh the learner’s knowledge in a fun and informal way.
  • Throughout the learning process, offer performance support resources that can be accessed and referred to by the learner at the point of need.

Excuse #6: Why on earth do I need to know all this???

The benefits of compliance training are obvious to those who run it. Firstly, it prevents incidents, and secondly, it satisfies regulatory requirements. For the learner, however, these benefits are not always obvious.

This is often because most compliance training courses don’t bother to explain the benefits of the training for those who are actually doing it. Instead of offering the ‘carrot’ and the benefits that taking the training will have, they often only show the ‘stick’. This means they only focus on the million-dollar fines companies could face if anything goes wrong.


If we want employees to do the training, we need them to understand the value of the training. The best way to do this is to explain the laws and their principles through the eyes of the learner. You should also outline the clear and practical benefits of completing the training from the beginning. Before the learner has even started the training they should have a solid understanding of what is in it for them.

Excuse #7: Legal compliance content is so… legalistic!

The basic principle of compliance training is to educate employees about the laws, rules and regulations that affect their jobs. Due to the nature of their content, these are usually written in a legalistic and prohibitive manner. From the perspective of the author of the course, it is often easier and safer to stick to this type of narrative in order to avoid any misinterpretation of the regulations.

However, employees will more likely appreciate content that is written in straightforward and simple language that focuses on the positive aspects of appropriate behaviour.


There are no shortcuts here. The content for compliance training needs to be rewritten in plain English with a positive sentiment while keeping the key messages intact.

Even for the most skilful training designers, this presents a serious challenge. Ideally, your compliance training content is the result of a collaboration between professional copywriters and legal professionals who can confirm its validity and accuracy.

This can be a timely process, and will often require a lot of energy for everyone to land on the same page, but it is time well spent.

Excuse #8: Legal compliance content is so… dry and boring!

Even the best copywriters can’t perform miracles on topics like GDPR, Anti-bribery and Corruption, Fair competition etc.


The best way to spice up your compliance training content is through images, videos, infographics and comics. These are a highly effective way of making the content stick and lightening up the mood.

However, multimedia should not be used for the sole purpose of light relief. It should also enforce and support the delivery of key information and present the information in a more digestible format. For example, complex explanations can be simplified by creative infographics and key takeaways can be highlighted in a short recap video.

Excuse #9: None of this applies to my job!

Compliance content is usually based on a set of extensive rules and legislation, and not all of which will be applicable to everyone’s day-to-day.


We need employees to complete compliance training. For that reason, we also need to provide them with content that is relevant to their job roles and applicable to their everyday tasks. To do that, it is vital that employees are given handpicked topics that apply to them, and it’s your responsibility in making sure that happens.

The simplest way to do this is to create content in a module structure. In doing so, you are able to mix-and-match content pieces and create several training versions, applicable to different job roles, departments, locations etc.

Excuse #10: (a legit one): I have a visual impairment/difficulties with reading

For those who suffer with visual impairments or struggle with reading due to aspects like dyslexia, e-learning is not always an ideal form of learning. However, compliance training is mandatory. Therefore it is your responsibility to ensure that the learning is accessible to everyone.


This can be achieved by offering an accessibility version of the content or selecting an LMS that has the option for different accessibility modes, such as audio narration.

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