Compliance training is a necessary evil.  OK, it’s not really evil, but it is necessary if you’d like your organization to satisfy certain State and Federal requirements.

And though it has to be completed, getting your employees excited about compliance training is no easy task.  Since it’s pretty tough to make compliance training appealing to the masses (Is the Family Medical Leaving Act really that exciting?), you have to be creative if you don’t want your employees to hate the compliance training.

How can you do this? Just turn the compliance training into something that your employees look forward to by gamifying the process.  According to Wikipedia, “gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts”.  Said another way, gamification can take something that is inherently boring into something that’s fun.

And, if you use gamification in compliance training, don’t be surprised if your employees thank you profusely, offer you gifts, and invite you out to dinner (OK….probably not, but they’ll definitely hate the training a little bit less!).

Everybody’s A Winner

awardI live close to Seattle, up in the beautiful Northwest, but I’m originally from New York.  And, being from the East Coast has definitely caused me to have a bit of a competitive streak.  As an East Coaster, you work hard to be the best in order to reap the benefits.  And if you’re not the best, you get nothing.

Things here in the Northwest are a bit different (healthier???).  Excellence is still rewarded, but the very non-East Coast attitude of “Everybody’s A Winner” is promoted as well.

Last place in the Middle School Science Fair: here’s a ribbon!  Took you 4 hours to complete that 5K: let’s give you a certificate.

And, while I personally like to be only rewarded for “real” accomplishments, I think that the “Everybody’s A Winner” attitude can be a great way to inspire people to complete things that they don’t actually want to do: enter compliance training.

When your employees sign up for compliance training, give them something.  A $10 Starbucks card for showing up to Safety Compliance Training.  A handwritten “Thank You” note for completing the Sexual Harassment Training.  An early Friday release for completing the Sensitivity to Koala Bears Training.

Regardless of the compliance training, rewarding an employee for just showing up to the training is one way to make the compliance training a little more palatable.

The Gold Star Club

starGiving everybody something for completing compliance training is one way to use gamification in compliance training.  However, you can also tap into the inner competitive nature of some of your employees.  The West Coast in me would love that $10 Starbucks card but the East Coaster in me still wants to be recognized when I do “better” than someone else.

As sad as it may sound, I still have vivid memories of being in third grade, scoring well on a test and getting a “gold-star”.  And, I’m a little bit embarrassed to say that some of the gold-star mentality is still with me today.

How does this work with compliance training?  In addition to the Everybody’s A Winner strategy, you can provide a few rewards for “exceptional” behavior.  First in a department to finish the training?  You get a special certificate!  Get a perfect score on the Family Medical Leave Act training?  Free lunch for a week in your company’s cafeteria.  The first to complete 3 Workplace Violence Trainings? You get a gift certificate for a free acupuncture session.

In any case, the special reward doesn’t have to cost your organization a lot of money.  For the gold-star junkie, the knowledge of being “better” is oftentimes reward enough.

The Spotlight Treatment

high fiveFor some, however, the gold-star club still isn’t enough.  The problem is that the gold-star club is a bit of a private affair.  You know that you did well, and get some personal recognition.  However, there are those who crave the spotlight.  And, public recognition is another way that you can use gamification in compliance training to get your employees excited (not hate?) about their compliance training.

The form of the public recognition can differ, but it can be as simple as a “Thank You” email recognizing all employees who completed the compliance training in a satisfactory manner.  And, these mass emails bring the “Everybody’s a winner” method to a new level since it’s a public declaration of how well you did.

Another tool that can be used is to present a plaque that’s tied to a certain compliance outcome.  So, for example, as part of safety training there can be an annual initiative to come up with a process which will minimize the number of accidents. Whoever comes up with the best method, can be publicly recognized on a plaque for everyone to see.

Using public recognition is a great way to incorporate gamification in compliance training.  It’s low-cost, easy to implement, and can have a positive effect on getting employees involved in a way that they wouldn’t be otherwise.


Gamification in compliance training can take some of the pain out of the compliance training process.  And, by making the training “fun”, your employees will be more willing to complete it.

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