5 Tips to Succeed With Awareness Training

Ismail Özkan
By: Ismail Özkan Awareness training | 6 December

Awareness training is an important part of an organization’s overall IT security strategy. Most security breaches are not caused by technical problems, but rather human error. Cybercriminals are aware of the lack of awareness among employees in organizations, and they are deliberately targeting employees to get into an organization’s IT systems or to access sensitive information. On the other hand, your employees can also be your strongest defence against cyber-attacks. That is where awareness training comes in – one of your most powerful tools to strengthen your organization’s IT security is to ensure a high level of awareness among your employees.

But how do you succeed with awareness training?

Many forms of awareness training exist. Some choose to conduct day-long seminars each year for the entire organization. Some prepare a huge pile of documents to go through while others may send a small group of employees to a course and then expect them to teach it to everyone else. However, your team may get bored, they may forget what they have learned, and it’s always hard to tell whether the training was successful or not. In this article, we have boiled down our experience with providing awareness training into 5 concrete tips that you can use to take your efforts to the next level. You can read more about awareness training here.

  1. Provide relevant content

  2. Give it in small pieces

  3. Endorse the training

  4. Use varied learning methods

  5. Follow up your employees


#1: Provide relevant content

The training should be suitable for all employees in all departments of your organization. You do not need to explain technical details about how computers work or dive deeply into regulations about information security. You simply need to create content that can be understood by all. Learning about IT security should not give everybody grief, but rather it should be something they become confident about.

Try to create courses that are both educational and entertaining. Use examples to clarify concepts and use an easy-going language when you explain those concepts. Provide courses that are relevant to your employees, not your IT-department. Nobody should be bored while taking the courses, and in fact, they should be quite interested in it. One way to achieve this is to create content that they can easily understand.

An example could be how to explain what a ransomware-attack is as seen in the picture below:

Ransomware explained - do's and dont's

Which one of those texts would you rather read?

#2: Give it in small pieces

From passwords to phishing attacks and from GDPR to social engineering – there is so much to learn with regards to IT security. If providing awareness training, it would be impossible to cover, digest, and retain all that information at once.

You cannot give someone the entire set of Harry Potter books then expect them to read all of them within a day and remember everything that happened.

That’s why the awareness training should be given in smaller pieces and occur over a longer period – this is called micro-learning.

This way, you will not only give your employees some time to reflect, practice, and breathe, but you will also make sure that IT security stays on the agenda for longer. Whether you choose to do a course each month or every second month, is up to you. You need to adjust the intensity of courses, depending on your needs and the importance of the topic you are covering.

A training schedule could look like this below which is courses from our own catalogue. It’s a mix of courses about IT-security, GDPR and It could look like:


#3: Endorse the training

The awareness training should not be a project that is only pushed to the employees by the IT department. In order to succeed with awareness training, it needs the endorsement from management throughout the entire process.

Without it, your team probably won’t be motivated to allocate their time to awareness training, and they will most likely have reservations about doing the courses.

Make sure to get support from the management and communicate why everybody should do the training right from the beginning.

In order to do this, your team should understand why your organization needs awareness training. Make it interesting and something your team values and is more eager to learn more about, rather than something they are compelled to do.

Read more: How to write an IT-security policy – A step-by-step guide with free template

#4: Use varied learning methods

So, you’ve obtained support from management for your awareness training, you’ve communicated it to your employees, divided the topics into smaller pieces, and made it relevant for everyone.

What’s next?

Your work has only begun!

Awareness training is an ongoing process. As much as creating awareness regarding IT security among your employees is important, maintaining that awareness is equally important. To do so, you need to consider a variety of learning methods. Small e-learning courses are a good idea, but you should supplement them with other forms of learning to maintain awareness.

Use different mediums to deliver the learning contents. Use videos to show examples, use interactive slides that are entertaining to explain concepts and challenge your employees by creating quizzes, so they can test their knowledge.

Create as many touchpoints as you can in order to occasionally remind your employees about what they have learned – this could be through real phishing simulations or by hanging posters around the office. You can find some free posters here.

These touchpoints will make it more fun for your employees to work with IT security and to maintain their awareness. There are many ways to create and maintain awareness – your imagination is the limit.

#5: Follow up your employees

Once you have rolled out your awareness training, you must continuously monitor the progress of your employees.

Try to seek feedback from your employees regarding the courses and the overall awareness training. What do your employees like about the courses, and what do they not like? It is important to note that awareness training should be valuable and beneficial for your employees. If your team is not enjoying the training, you can count on the results to suffer.

Awareness training is a dynamic process – you should try to learn from your team and adjust the training accordingly. If your employees are not taking the courses, why is that? Do they need more time to complete the courses? Should the content be even more tailored? Try to figure out the reasons behind it and act accordingly to fix the problems. Make sure that awareness training is fun and something your employees want to do. You can read more about measuring the effect of awareness-training here.

In summary, continuity is key!

The most important take-away from this article should be that you must acknowledge that awareness training is not a one-off project, but an ongoing effort. It must be customized, monitored, and tailored along the way based on the needs of your organization and your employees.

The five concrete tips that we have provided you in this article will help you achieve your goals with your awareness training. We hope that this article inspires you and we also encourage you to get in touch with our expert team if there is anything we can help with!