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My team and I have been designing interactive mandatory training on subjects such as cleaning up in the breakroom to closing the bathroom door when you’re finished as it’s close to people’s desks and other bathroom related activities, to more serious training like how to properly submit time off. We’ve been doing this for a couple years now and have accurate metrics on completion rates and time per question/activity. Some of the training includes interactive puzzles where you move things around to fit the right subject and click in various places.

As of around 6 months ago, we found that the average completion time for what would be a 15-20 minute training was around 4 minutes. All questions/tasks had a 90-100% rating. We immediately suspected cheating or dishonesty, but sneaking around the office to look over people’s shoulders didn’t offer much information and we don’t have a budget for fancy software. Our team is not exactly "liked" so being direct or blunt may not be the course of action I'd like to take.

Is there anything in particular people have done in the past to curb, or even prevent this type of behavior? Can this be discouraged without upsetting people?

UPDATE: Thanks for everyone's response. I spent the entire day with a few others figuring out what was going on. Turned out that people were actually doing these trainings as fast as they could as some sort of TikTok work challenge.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Sep 24 at 21:49

4 Answers 4

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Is there anything in particular people have done in the past to curb, or even prevent this type of behavior?

Why would you care? The purpose of training is to make sure the training goals are achieved. As long as people are doing what they are supposed to be doing and doing it well, it doesn't matter how the learned how to do it. Turns out that many people are capable of closing a bathroom door and filling out a time sheet without extensive training.

So measure the outcome, not the way how people got there.

Our team is not exactly "liked"

That's not exactly a surprise given that you are "sneaking around the office to look over people’s shoulders" and "We immediately suspected cheating or dishonesty"

we found that the average completion time for what would be a 15-20 minute training was around 4 minutes. All questions/tasks had a 90-100% rating.

How do you know that it actually takes 15-20 minutes for a person of average intelligence?

Look, you are providing training for some apparently basic things that many already know how to do. Don't over rotate and HOW they know how to do it. Focus less on the training itself and more on measuring the desired behaviors and outcomes.

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we found that the average completion time for what would be a 15-20 minute training was around 4 minutes. All questions/tasks had a 90-100% rating.

Mandatory trainings are a joke. I know they have to be done legally and they may be mildly interesting for a first-timer, the fact that they are mandatory means I have done about the required ~13 per year (so times 20-25 years of working). I can answer them in my sleep.

Adding insult to injury, they are so silly and stupid that the average person can answer the questions without the training.

To make sure even the dumbest person actually gets a good score on the training (because the company cannot claim they successfully trained them, if they fail the test), tests more often than not look like this:

Given a working power outlet and a fork laying around, should you

  • stick the fork into the power outlet pointy side first
  • stick the fork into the power outlet round side first
  • better not stick anything into a power outlet

Yes, you have to read and comprehend it to answer, but it takes three seconds and it will cost an additional number of braincells that die of frustration while you are trying to understand why you have to do something so mindboggingly stupid or if this maybe is some kind of trick question.

Given that many people are working remote now, this training tells them not to stick their own forks into their own power outlets at home. Something their mom told them when they were toddlers, and which they have managed ever since, proven by their continued existence.

If you want people to engage with your training, make it worthwhile. I would love to hear about the chemicals we use as a company and how they can be a fire (or health) hazard. And what we use them for, that makes that risk acceptable. I know all about the theoretical fire hazards of a theoretical workplace. I have done that silly training 20 times over. If it's flamable and there is an ignition source and enough oxygen, it can burn. Burning is bad. Baaad. Thanks. Never would have thought of that on my own.

Very likely, that is not your stated goal from the company. Your goal is to deliver a good average training score to your company so they can check that box and move on to whatever they do to make money. Put the questions first and only let me do the training if I get any wrong.

And for gods sake don't let me watch a 10 minute unfunny youtube video by amateur actors on how to not stick forks into power outlets. I am not 5. I have been with the company for longer than that. That's ridiculous.

So why do people finish quickly? Because they can and your training is not worth the time they spend. They can cheat any method you use. The one thing they would not be able to cheat would be an actual training on interesting topics. Provide that and you will find people will engage with it. Once.

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Sounds like your team is doing busywork. Unless you have toddlers for employees, people know that they should close a bathroom door or clean up after themselves. This isn’t a matter of skills but matter of willingness, and I highly doubt having to go through click-and-drag tests increases that willingness. Perhaps start focusing on improving the general atmosphere at the workplace instead?

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    If your team wants to be useful and liked, put a spring on the bathroom door so it closes itself.
    – RedSonja
    Sep 22 at 7:19
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    @RedSonja I didn’t wanna get into the specifics but that’s the first thing that came to my mind too. I wonder how much time developing this visual training tool cost, compared to just installing a spring. Sep 23 at 2:27
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I like to increase the stakes with tests like these, by skipping the nonsense as quickly as I can, then seeing whether I can complete the final questions on common sense alone.

It's a tactic that has never done me wrong.

Also, when I'm forced to twiddle with buttons and drag things around, I like to react by making especially sure that I don't read or attempt to retain the information.

If the training author wants me to take the training seriously, then they can can put more effort into efficiency, and work on the bad attitude they express towards me through these designs.

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