Completion Rate Trends and How To Get There

It’s an age-old compliance question: What is an acceptable completion rate for training? From what we hear in the field: 90% is good, and 95% is leading practice;  you’ll want 100% for new hires, and we think managers should be closer to 100%, too. 

If you’re not getting those rates, there are some things you can do to increase them. And, we would argue there are some better indicators of engagement. Read on for more!

Consider the Cause

There are several reasons for low completion rates. Consider the following: 

  • Can participants easily access the training? For example, if your employees are often on the road, they may need to take it by phone — is the course mobile-friendly? 
  • You might need to deploy the course differently if your employees don’t work behind a computer. Consider having a facilitator present the training to a group or set up computer stations in a break room. 
  • Is the depth of the topic relevant to the audience? All employees should train on the Code of Conduct and harassment. But does everyone need to take a comprehensive money laundering or anti-competition course? 
  • Do employees have enough time to complete the training? You may need to rethink your completion windows or launch during a relative  downtime in the year. 
  • If you are deploying the course globally, assess whether completion rates are lower in a particular region. If so, they may need a specific translation variant, for example, Latin-American Spanish. 
Make it Fun

OK, unlike us, not everyone may find compliance training fun. But there are some things you can do to make your training more engaging. 

  • For starters, keep it short. Training should focus on high-level concepts and point employees to company policies for more detailed information. Tell them to bookmark resources at that moment for easy reference when needed. 
  • Avoid legalese. Write in plain language clearly and concisely. Consider: How would I explain this concept to my mom?
  • Think like a journalist and develop a hook. Include a real-life case study or cautionary tale from your industry. Craft scenarios that employees might actually face in their work. 
  • Make it multimedia. The average human attention span is eight seconds — less than a goldfish. Including multiple text formats, audio and video elements, and interactions will help participants stay focused. 
  • Provide an incentive. For example, give the first 20 people to complete the training a prize, or host a party for the department that finishes first.
Communicate — Again and Again

As change management experts will tell you: To change behavior, say it seven times in seven different ways. 

Your workforce has a lot going on, and it’s easy to forget compliance training deadlines weeks away. Think about convenient and creative ways to remind them. 

  • Include a calendar invite with your launch set for a few days before the deadline; subject “Take Compliance Training!” 
  • Send reminder emails with a short video on the topic or a link to a relevant story “ripped from the headlines.” 
  • If your employees are on-site, create posters and table tents in break rooms and other common areas. You could also host a compliance open house — everybody loves free food!
  • Ignite competition. Post a leaderboard on the company intranet, highlighting which department is ahead in completing the training. Include positive feedback: "Short, concise, and interesting! 10:10 recommend this training!" 
  • Engage managers and company leadership and ask them to mention the importance of compliance and training completion in their communications and conversations with teams.
Explore Other Metrics

Completion rates are just one metric. We think some better indicators are: 

  • Do your employees know where to find your policies, and do they find them helpful?
  • Where could your employees use more guidance regarding a specific risk area?
  • Did they find the teaching scenarios in your course relevant to their job?
  • Would they feel comfortable speaking up, and to whom?

Clients have used our Drive Analytics™ service to gather other insights specific to their needs, such as what confuses employees, where they need more help, and the barriers to best practices and reporting concerns. We pair them with experts on our team who help interpret the data and how they could use it to inform strategies. 

What’s Your Take?

How do you define training success? What metrics do you track? What questions do you still want to answer? 

We would love to hear from you! Reach out to us at, via our website, or on LinkedIn!