Mandatory Training: The 10 Most Important Questions and Answers

Stefan Schulze

A person conducting mandatory training on a laptop
VIDEO With english subtitles

Whether for onboarding, data protection or the introduction of new tools, mandatory training is an integral part of every company's HR development. But what kind of mandatory training is really needed? When does it make sense to make training mandatory? And can mandatory training also be run online? In this article, you’ll learn the answers to eight important questions on this topic.

What Is Mandatory Training?

Mandatory training is defined by a selection of compulsory training courses that are prescribed by companies and must be completed by certain groups of people. The aim is to inform employees about legal requirements, safety regulations or company guidelines.

Depending on the industry and area of work, mandatory training may also be required by law.

Failure to complete mandatory training can have negative consequences. For employees, this can include disciplinary measures or even dismissal. Companies must expect legal consequences if they do not enforce mandatory training prescribed by law.

Who Is Responsible for Providing Mandatory Training?

The employer is responsible for organizing legally required training courses. The employer is also responsible for ensuring that employees complete this mandatory training.

Within the company, the HR or L&D Department usually coordinates training courses for employees. They are responsible for the:

  • Planning of the training process and format,
  • Invitation of all participants,
  • Definition of the training content,
  • Acquisition of (external) lecturers,
  • Organization of the training material,
  • Reservation of rooms for face-to-face training courses,
  • Provision of hardware and software for online training,
  • Documentation of results and participants.

Why Is Mandatory Training Important?

Through mandatory training, companies ensure that employees – regardless of their position within the organization – are properly equipped to perform their work safely and effectively, while also being adequately informed about their responsibilities and obligations.

In addition, companies fulfill their own legal obligation by conducting mandatory training for safety and compliance on a regular basis.

Under Section 12 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG), for example, employers are obliged to provide employees with appropriate and sufficient information on health and safety measures.

What Are the Advantages of Compulsory Training?

Mandatory training courses also make a significant contribution to improving working conditions, safety and processes.

This is because by carrying out mandatory training, companies can: 

  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the legal and internal guidelines and procedures, including their own rights and obligations,
  • Point out risks and hazards in the workplace and thus reduce accidents and prevent injuries,
  • Enable all employees to carry out their work safely, effectively and in compliance with company standards.

Mandatory training courses that are ordered by the company and are aimed at the personal development of employees also have four other advantages, which are:

  1. Increased productivity,
  2. Strengthened employee retention,
  3. Promoted motivation and
  4. Improved job satisfaction.
Masterplan Customer Story: Mandatory training at Hein & Oetting

Who Needs to Complete Mandatory Training?

Mandatory training is either aimed at all employees of a company or a specific department or a group within the organization.

Depending on the profession, industry and location of the company, the exact training courses that must be completed may vary. 

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Instead of asking who, it sometimes makes more sense to ask when. So: When or in which cases is mandatory training necessary?

There are three basic occasions when companies order mandatory training:

  • Initial Training
    Onboarding when starting a new job or after a change of department, familiarization with new tools and work equipment, product training – there are many potential firsts within a company. In all cases, employees must undergo appropriate training.
  • Refreshing or Updating
    Knowledge fades over time or is no longer up to date. This is why certain training courses are required at regular intervals. First responders, for example, are required to refresh their first aid skills every two years.
  • Situational or Behavioral Training
    Strictly speaking, training on new processes or products is also situational. What is meant here is training that follows changes in company policy or culture. Behavior-related mandatory training is primarily ordered on an individual basis following the misconduct of individual employees.

What Mandatory Training Courses Are There?

There is a large selection of (mandatory) training courses. The most common mandatory training courses for employees are

  • Occupational Safety Training
  • First Aid Training
  • Data Protection Training
  • IT Security Training
  • Fire Protection Training
  • Hygiene Training
  • Equal Opportunities Training
  • Environmental Training
  • Labor Law Training
  • Software Training (e.g. MS Office)
  • Training on corporate culture and working methods

The kinds of training that must be carried out always depends on the industry, company and area of work.

For example, occupational safety training is particularly important in production and logistics. This includes teaching safety standards, protective measures and rules of conduct to ensure the health and safety of employees in production halls or warehouses. 

By comparison, IT security and data protection training is more relevant for "screen-based professions" in order to be prepared for digital dangers. Compliance training is also necessary in order to be able to process sensitive (customer) data confidently; equality or anti-discrimination training may also be mandatory for direct customer contact.

What Are the Guidelines for Mandatory Training?

The mandatory training that companies must offer and have carried out is regulated by law - but how this training is carried out is not specified.

In the case of legal requirements, the content and participating employees are quite clearly defined. If this is not the case, the employer has the freedom to structure the training courses themselves according to the objectives.

There are no guidelines for this, but there are aspects and questions that should be addressed: 

<span style="color: #fc6676;">Content:</span> What Topics Are Covered In a Mandatory Training Course?

If no content is prescribed by law, those responsible are responsible in choosing the range of topics. The only important thing is that all the necessary information is covered and tailored to the training kind.

<span style="color: #fc6676;">Participants:</span> Who Completes the Mandatory Training?

Mandatory training is always aimed at a relevant target group. This can be the entire organisation workforce, employees at a specific location or individual departments, teams and groups of people.

Rule of thumb for the selection of participants: The training should really be relevant for all participants. Training courses that are unrelated or distant from the job are frustrating and also cause unnecessary interruptions in everyday working life.

<span style="color: #fc6676;">Duration:</span> When Does Mandatory Training Take Place and How Long Does It Take?

The ideal amount of time for compulsory training is reached when all content has been sufficiently explained and understood. That being said, there is no universal formula. It is always helpful to allow enough time for questions.

Fixed deadlines should be set for online training courses that employees complete independently.

<span style="color: #fc6676;">Method:</span> How Does the Mandatory Training Take Place?

Mandatory training has many formats: Offline and on site as a face-to-face seminar, online as e-learning, as a webinar or using blended learning techniques – the important thing about the format is that it should ensure that the content is adequately conveyed and understood in the long term. Participants should be able to learn at their own pace and have access to all documents (even after completion).

Can Mandatory Training Courses Be Held Online? 

Yes, mandatory training courses can be completed online. And it can even be very efficient!

Webinars and e-learning formats even have some advantages over face-to-face training:

1. They can be completed flexibly and from any location. All employees – whether in the office, working remotely or on different shift assignments – can access them and fit them into their working day. All they need is access and, if necessary, some hardware.

2. Learning progress can be monitored during the processing period. Once the given deadline has passed, the legally required documentation is completed more quickly, as the completions are automatically recorded.

3. Organization via a learning platform is time-saving and cost-effective. Participants can be assigned and deadlines set with just a few clicks. Recurring mandatory training courses only need to be produced once and can be adapted more easily when updates are made. Learning engagement platforms such as Masterplan.com also offer ready-made courses on topics such as compliance or GDPR.

What Regular Updates Should Be Considered for Mandatory Training?

Regular updates of mandatory training courses are necessary to ensure that employee knowledge is always up to date and complies with current legal and operational standards. Companies should consider the following:

1. Legal Changes: Amendments in the law or new regulations must be immediately integrated into the employee training content. This particularly applies to the areas of occupational safety, data protection and compliance.

2. Technological Developments: New technologies and tools often require training courses to be adapted. For example, IT security courses should be updated regularly to include new threats and security measures.

3. Internal Processes and Policies: Changes in internal processes or corporate culture should also be reflected in training courses. This may include training on new working methods, software updates or updates of company policies.

4. Feedback and Evaluation: Regular employee feedback should be used to improve training content and adapt it to the needs of employees.

How Can Companies Measure the Effectiveness of Mandatory Training?

The effectiveness of mandatory training can be measured through:

1. Learning Progress Checks: Quizzes and tests at the end of the training course help to assess participants' knowledge acquisition. Regular reviews can ensure that knowledge is retained in the long term.

2. Feedback Surveys: Anonymous surveys completed by training participants provide insights into the quality and relevance of the training content as well as employee satisfaction.

3. Practical Observations: The application of the knowledge learned in day-to-day work can be observed and evaluated by supervisors or internal auditors. This shows whether the training has a practical impact on the way employees work.

4. Key Figures and KPI Tracking: Company key figures such as accident rates, compliance violations or productivity increases can indicate the effectivity of company training . A decrease in accident rates after safety training or fewer data protection incidents after corresponding training are positive indicators.

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Stefan Schulze

Stefan Schulze is Content Marketing Manager at Masterplan. In the blog, he explains important terms from the L&D and HR world and writes about methods, concepts and developments in corporate learning.

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