3 Keys to Training on SOPs in the Pharmaceutical Industry

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Training on SOPs in the pharmaceutical industry is critical for success. Follow these 3 keys from Astella Pharma to increase compliance with SOP-led training.

Compliance has always been a cornerstone of pharmaceutical excellence. Regulations are in place for a good reason: they protect the public, further medical innovation, and protect your business from liability.

However, because of increasing regulation, globalization, and digitization, it’s both more important and more difficult to ensure compliance today. How do you help your staff navigate such a highly regulated environment?

SOPs and training demos are an important part of showing your staff how to implement regulations correctly. But it’s not so easy to make sure they use the SOPs in their daily work after that.

We’ve noted three keys to training your employees on SOPs to make it more likely that they’ll engage with and use them. But first, let’s look at one major blocker to effective SOPs.

How most SOPs are presented to staff

Many pharmaceutical companies create SOPs with the goal of legal protection rather than ensuring practical use. They toss the SOPs to employees and tell them to read and understand them. Training may happen via e-learning, and the employee lightly skims over the material.

After that point, employees have very little interaction with the SOPs. And that’s when mistakes happen.

How to make your SOPs more effective

Instead of tossing an SOP at your trainees, take a different approach. Move away from this “read and understand” culture by offering SOP training that gets the attention of your staff.

In our case study on Astellas Pharma, you can see how the company embraced three ways to create effective training on SOPs in the pharmaceutical industry. We’ve called out some highlights here.

1. Show the downstream effects of following the SOP

The best training on SOPs in the pharmaceutical industry will show real-world scenarios that demonstrate downstream effects.

People cut corners when they don’t understand how all of the pieces fit together. That includes who does what, when, how, and why. The “why” is the most important piece. It’s easier for an employee to skip a vital step in the quality control process if they don’t know why it matters.

That’s why your training should explain the reason why they need to do what the SOP says. How do an employee’s actions affect the final outcome? What happens if they don’t complete this step? Why does this matter?

Tell a story and show how just a few cut corners affect the final product—and your ability to stay in business.

2. Make it simple and fun

Nobody wants to sit through a bland classroom presentation or click through a lengthy SCORM course. The best SOP training is both simple and fun.

Simplicity is key, and it starts with real-world relevance. Pharmaceutical employees need to know how, specifically, this SOP training will affect their daily job.

Be sure to offer simple, clear documentation after the training so they can use the SOP in their daily jobs. When your people have access to notes and resources from the training, they’ll implement your procedures with more fidelity.

Don’t be afraid to include a little levity in your training, too. This keeps the training fresh and interesting. After all, “compliant” doesn’t mean you need to be boring!

You can balance simplicity with entertainment by filming short, situational videos. Video is an incredibly engaging medium for learning and is bound to grab your employees’ attention. Add work-appropriate humor to shake things up and try telling a story. The more you can maintain your employee’s attention, the better they’ll implement SOPs in their jobs.

3. Involve leadership

How do you convince employees that your training videos are worth watching?

In our experience, you can quickly grab trainees’ attention by casting company leaders in these skits. Ask your leadership team to memorize a few lines and star in your own SOP training. This immediately creates a sense of camaraderie and a desire to engage.

Aside from involving leadership in the SOP training itself, they need to be onboard with coaching employees through SOP implementation, too. If retention matters to you (and it should), ask your leadership to meet weekly with employees for one-on-ones. Regular follow ups ensure compliance and help you build a culture of compliance over time.

See how Astellas Pharma improved its training on SOPs

SOPs are important for most industries, but they’re especially critical for pharmaceutical companies. Ensuring your staff uses your SOPs can help you release safe products, protect your employees, and reduce liability.

See how Astellas Pharma helps its staff remember and apply compliant procedures by incorporating real-world scenarios, keeping materials simple and fun, and involving company leaders in training videos. Reach out today to learn more about why e-learning with Dokeos is the best choice for your team.

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