Guide to Employee Compliance Training: Keep Your Workforce Safe, Healthy, and Above-Board

December 28, 2023

Don't get caught out of compliance! Learn the basics of employee compliance training and why it's essential for keeping your business and team safe, healthy, and happy. 

For many employees, compliance training sounds about as fun as watching paint dry. This reputation often overshadows its importance in many organizations. As a result, it can be left to fall by the wayside — a mistake your organization can’t afford to make.  

Whether we like it or not, every business must abide by legal and regulatory requirements. This may seem like an annoyance, but your employees, customers, and organization all stand to benefit from compliant practices.  

The question, then, is whether your workforce compliance training is up to snuff.  

If it’s been a while since you’ve evaluated your resources, don’t worry. You can get your organization back on track with this refresher. So, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of compliance training and how it can benefit your organization. 

Key Takeaways

  • Compliance training ensures your employees understand and abide by any necessary laws and regulations in your industry 
  • Each organization has unique training requirements. Depending on your industry and location, you may be mandated by law to provide certain trainings.  
  • HR is generally responsible for administering employee compliance training. This includes identifying legally required trainings, developing (or acquiring) training materials, and maintaining training documentation.  
  • Failure to provide adequate training can result in fines, business risks, or workplace safety hazards.  

What is Employee Compliance Training? 

Employee compliance training is the process of educating your workforce about the regulations and policies that affect their roles. Many of these requirements are designed to keep workplaces safe, as well as promote non-discrimination and protect confidential information. 

Employers use compliance training to help employees understand and adhere to the rules, which are set by government agencies and other regulatory bodies. Depending on your industry, you may be mandated by law to provide certain trainings. 

Compliance training helps maintain industry standards and ensures your organization follows best practices. Failure to comply with these policies and procedures can put the business at risk, which can affect both your reputation and finances. 

Is Compliance Training Legally Required? 

Yes, workplace compliance training is legally required in most industries. But exactly what's necessary depends on the nature of your business and its legal jurisdiction.  

For example, construction companies are required to provide specific training to their construction workers to adhere to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Hospital workers, or any other employee dealing with personal health information, will need to be trained in data security practices to stay compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). 

In addition to federal requirements, some states also have their own unique employee compliance training mandates. California, New York, and Maine require anti-harassment training, as an example.  

Because compliance training is a legal requirement, failure to meet mandatory standards or present evidence of training can result in fines and other penalties.   

How Often Should Employees Complete Compliance Training? 

As a rule of thumb, employees must complete compliance training at least once a year. For instance, HIPAA mandates annual training to protect patient data privacy.  

Internally, you’ll need to decide on a training frequency based on several factors, such as how often you bring in new hires. Additionally, every time policies and procedures change, it’s a good idea for a compliance refresher. 

Many industry organizations require compliance training as a form of continuous learning. If this applies to your business, you may need to organize annual training in these areas and keep completion records on hand. 

Learn More: HR Compliance 101: Fundamentals for HR Professionals

What are the Benefits of Employee Compliance Training? 

While adhering to compliance training requirements can be a chore, rest assured that your organization can benefit in more ways than one: 

  • Legal Adherence: Fewer lawsuits and penalties also mean less bad PR and more money to invest elsewhere in the business. 
  • Improved Workplace Safety: Following health and safety standards means fewer accidents and injuries. Safe workplaces also experience less absenteeism and better employee morale.  
  • Improved Risk Management: Effective instruction means fewer mistakes due to human error, and it helps avoid oversights and failures that might threaten your business and its customers.  

Additionally, compliance training documents your efforts to maintain a healthy work environment. In this way, should the worst happen, you’ll have evidence to prove that you’ve met your compliance requirements. 

Compliance Training Examples 

As we already discussed, some compliance training is required by law, but there are other types of training that you might want to mandate with an internal policy.  

1. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility 

Diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) courses aim to reduce prejudice and inequality in the workplace. Its goal is to increase awareness and emphasize the value of a diverse workforce by covering topics like unconscious bias, microaggressions, and conflict resolutions.  

This kind of training should foster a more respectful working environment for all members of your team, help staff identify unconscious bias, and actively resolve problem areas. 

2. OSHA and Workplace Safety 

OSHA compliance is required for all U.S. businesses to help maintain safe workplace environments. Depending on the type of organization and your employees' job duties, you may be required to provide specific types of training to your workforce on a regular basis.  

These training requirements range from fire safety to handling hazardous materials or dangerous machinery. OSHA maintains a comprehensive training standards handbook that breaks down the specifics. 

Keeping up with required OSHA training doesn’t just help your organization avoid fines. It protects your workforce, too. Remember, your people are your most valuable resource, so keeping them safe while on the job helps safeguard the future of your business. 

3. Data Security 

Data protection and privacy training is also essential for any team handling sensitive data that could compromise or harm your clients, employees, or business performance if leaked.  

Data security training helps prevent breaches by ensuring your workforce follows proper data handling procedures. It also educates your team on how to spot phishing or other malicious attacks before they get into your systems.  

Data security training can also help keep your workforce compliant with domestic and international privacy laws that may affect your business. Your organization may be affected by data security regulations like HIPAA, CAN-SPAM Act, or the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR). Making sure your workforce understands how to abide by these important privacy regulations can protect your business and your clients. 

4. Anti-Harassment 

A recent Gallup Poll found 23% of employed adults have experienced violence or harassment in the workplace. Harassment may be sexual, physical, or verbal, and it's sometimes classified as a form of discrimination. These incidents can create lifelong trauma for victims and drag your entire organization through the mud. 

Anti-harassment training should, therefore, ensure compliance with local laws and aim to foster a safe and positive work environment. This type of training covers what constitutes harassment, how to recognize it, and what to do if you see these types of behaviors in the workforce. 

5. Company Policies and Ethical Behavior 

Each organization has its own code of conduct, whether dictated by industry bodies — such as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for healthcare companies — or by companies themselves. 

Your organization’s code of conduct must outline policies like dispute resolution, employee conduct expectations, and disciplinary procedures and enforce compliance across the board via training. 

6. Disability and 508 Compliance 

Federal agencies and contractors are also mandated to comply with Section 508 of the Workforce Rehabilitation Act. This statute requires such organizations to make their electronic and information technology accessible to those with disabilities. 

For example, 508 compliance training could help your team build and maintain an accessible company website, including screen readers with descriptive alt text for images and subtitles for videos. 

How to Develop a Compliance Training Program 

Now that you have a solid grasp on what compliance training is and why your organization needs it, it’s time to develop a compliance training program that checks all the boxes.

1. Identify Your Training Needs 

The best place to start is identifying all mandatory compliance regulations for your specific industry and where you conduct business. Every organization will have different requirements, so review all local and federal laws that impact your organization and identify the relevant training topics. 

Once you’ve determined which trainings are required by law, consider what you’d like to mandate internally. You may want to provide annual DEIA training or require company policy education for new hires. 

As you list out your requirements, think about who at your organization is required to complete these trainings and what the cadence is.  

Untangle HR Compliance Requirements 

Join PCTY Talks Host Shari Simpson as she interviews Emily Dickens, head of government affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), about how to stay on top of workplace compliance regulations

2. Develop Your Courses 

Developing a training course requires a 360-degree approach, as each element can impact your employees, clients, and the organization as a whole.  

Map out each course with big topics branching into smaller ones. A visual guide can help ensure nothing is left out or redundant. 

In addition to the course material, you also need to consider the following: 

  • Successful course completion. What criteria must be met for a course to be considered complete? Is this based on time spent, scores, or other metrics? 
  • Timelines and deadlines. How often do users need to engage with course content? How long is an average lesson, and how much time does the entire course require? 
  • Record keeping and reporting. Where is each employee’s training progress tracked? Who can access these records and how? 

3. Launch and Track Progress 

Once you’ve curated your coursework, it’s time to assign it to your students — meaning your workforce. 

This may involve scheduling meetings to conduct the training or providing the materials to your employees to complete on their own, depending on the format you choose. If you have an all-in-one HR solution, you might have access to an online learning management system (LMS) that can automatically store coursework that’s accessible from a variety of devices. 

Regardless of how the training is executed, keep a good record of who's completed the training and when. This ensures your workforce has received the appropriate training and provides documentation that you’re maintaining compliance. 

Pro Tip: Survey Your Employees About The Training Experience 

Especially if you’ve developed your own training materials, be sure to send out a quick employee survey after training is completed. Ask your employees what they enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about the training experience so you can continually improve your compliance training program. 

Employee Compliance Training Best Practices 

Writing engaging and informative compliance courses isn’t easy, but nothing valuable comes without hard work.  

That said, you can avoid a lot of suffering with the following best practices: 

  • Lead from the top. Managers and the entire HR department should complete compliance training and stick to what they’ve learned. Leading by example helps build and maintain a culture of compliance. 
  • Accountability and transparency. Put systems in place that hold every team member accountable. Formal and informal pulse check surveys are a good place to start, and assigning accountability partners helps employees empower each other to report things like harassment or risky behavior.  
  • Leverage engaging training materials. Not every compliance-related topic is going to be the most scintillating, so it’s important to make sure you have materials that keep your workforce interested. Consider using a mix of media, microlearning, and gamification tactics to improve participation and knowledge retention. 
  • Use a Learning Management System (LMS). A ton of work goes into course development, so it’s worth making the most of it with an LMS that can help you create, store, and manage all your materials digitally. This makes it easy to evaluate, update, and improve your training as needed, and allows you to track employee progress.  

Six Advantages of Online Compliance Training with an LMS 

Even today, many new hires are greeted on their first day with a binder of onboarding and training paperwork. If you’re still drowning in documents, it’s probably time to go digital. 

Adopting an online solution like an LMS provides several benefits beyond saving paper. 

  1. Save time and frustration. A robust content library should include HR software training, DEIA coursework, safety training bundles, and more. Some allow you to pick and choose how you include these materials, which is a perfect option for managing compliance training.  
  2. Encourage a culture of learning. An LMS acts as a central hub for your subject matter experts to educate your team. They can curate courses using their bespoke knowledge and experience, and employees can have courses recommended to them based on their job roles.  
  3. Easy customization. Each employee in your business is unique and has their individual talents, abilities, interests, and motivators. With an LMS, managers can customize this and tailor training to meet the needs of each team member.  
  4. Empower remote employees. Moving to an online learning environment is more inclusive for remote team members. 
  5. Improved participation. A modern LMS is accessible from desktop and mobile devices, so your employees can easily complete trainings at their convenience, whether they’re in the office or in the field. 
  6. Automation and Reporting. The digital nature of an LMS, and how it interfaces with the employee record, makes it easy to automatically assign trainings to the right employees. And once training is assigned, you can see who has and hasn’t completed the training with a click of a button. 

Simplify Compliance Training with User-Friendly Software 

Compliance training isn’t an area where you can experiment — you need to tick specific boxes and make sure everything has been delivered. At the very least, it can help prevent penalties, and at best, it’s an opportunity to foster a more learning-oriented company culture. 

Paylocity drives compliance and lightens the load on your HR team while fostering employee growth and career development with customizable course materials in its LMS. 

Request a demo today, and see how a modern, intuitive solution makes compliance less stressful.


Grow Your Talent

Now, more than ever, employees want more career development opportunities from their employers. Learn how you can.

Start Training Talent

Ease Compliance

Maintaining compliance can be a time-consuming and costly challenge. Never miss a beat with our Compliance Dashboard.

Manage HR Compliance