10 Reasons Your Workers Don’t Show Up for Training


May 8, 2019

Training managers face many challenges. But for many, the most frustrating challenge of all is simply getting workers to show up for their sessions.

In the spirit of kicking off the new year with more positive results for both trainers and their learners, here are ten reasons why workers are probably not showing up for your sessions and what you can do about it.


10. You Haven’t Communicated the Consequences

Forget incentives. Workers aren’t rewarded for showing up for work every day. It’s simply something that’s expected of them. The same should hold true for workforce training. Put measures in place that penalize those who don’t show and then make sure everyone knows what those measures are. Even in performance-based situations, the “performance” is in the job being dutifully executed. Training, meanwhile, is there to either help boost performance or ensure the job can continue to be performed.


9. Content Isn’t Uniformly Relevant

Of course, penalties are only part of the equation. Another big reason why workers don’t show up for training is it doesn’t affect their jobs as much as the jobs of others. Rather than require all workers to show up for all aspects of training, try segmenting sessions in a way that packs the most relevant info for each targeted audience. This not only makes the most of everyone’s time, it supports higher retention since there are fewer (and hopefully no) opportunities to nod off while non-applicable content is presented.


8. Workers Didn’t Find Previous Sessions of Value

One of the best ways to assure attendance is to create training programs that benefit workers, their job performances, and their careers in ways they can clearly see for themselves—though it’s important to highlight these benefits yourself (as we discuss later). If workers don’t find your first session of value, they’re probably not going to prioritize making the next one. So make each session count. If you blow them away the first time, they’ll look forward to getting the same level of quality and relevance with the next session.


7. Workers are Busy

Skipping training sessions is a no brainer when workers are faced with urgent and important tasks at hand. But often, the problem is workers believe their work is more important than the training when, really, the task could easily be put off an hour or two. One workaround is to publicize and remind workers of training sessions well in advance or implement a policy that absolutely requires workers to show up even when busy unless cases of an absolute emergency, which requires managerial sign-off. This can help cut down on emergency absences that may seem understandable at the time but could have been prevented simply by planning ahead.


6. You Haven’t Gone Virtual

On-premises training can create special hardships for part time, field and other workers that aren’t doing the on-site 9 to 5 thing. Going virtual with flexible scheduling options allows them to train from wherever, whenever. Plus there are all the built-in learning benefits of virtual training that go beyond logistical convenience. Increased knowledge retention and engagement are just some of the positive affects for workers that are able to  schedule their sessions for times when they can give the maximum attention.


5. Your Timing is Off

Scheduling sessions at 5 p.m. on a Friday may be an obvious surefire way to train an empty room, but sometimes there are timing issues that you may not be aware of. Find out ahead of time—before scheduling a session—if there are any work-related meetings, events, deadlines or seasonal/predictable busy cycles that workers must adhere to before you schedule your next session.


4. You’re Not Blocking Off Time

How often do you realize during a session that learners are absent due to scheduled personal time off? The best way to avoid this is to work with HR ahead of time to ensure your sessions are on the calendar and to prevent workers from scheduling time off during these sessions.


3. You’re Not Getting Managerial Support

If you want workers to show up for your training sessions, you need their managers to force them to go. This sounds easy until your session suddenly shows up as an appointment reminder on worker desktops when they are  behind as it is on meeting important quotas or in the middle of a client fire. Some absences are inevitable, and it’s important to be nimble. Training managers must always be ready to reschedule a session should forces beyond the company’s control require it. But to avoid the never ending cycle of workers pushing back on scheduled sessions for any old reason, it’s important to communicate the value of your session to managers, their managers, and so on all the way up to the CEO.


2. You’re Not Teaching What Workers Want to Learn

While training program objectives and priorities are often handed down by company leadership or mandated by external requirements such as regulatory or research updates, it’s also important that trainers develop sessions around topics and issues that workers feel are important to them. Survey your workforce. Find out how where they see areas for growth. Get them excited about improving in ways that can not only boost their job performance, but also add to their professional profiles and further their careers.


1. You’re Not Demonstrating the Value of Your Sessions

Even when you’re developing sessions to meet corporate or external needs—especially so—it’s critical that you build in messages that demonstrate how each lesson within the session positively impacts worker performance. Often the need or benefit of the information being conveyed is muddled or simply left out altogether. Sometimes the information or rules that are doled out seem unnecessary or even ridiculous. As a result, workers may feel training is a waste of time. Taking the time to explain the reason behind the lesson can help workers appreciate or at least understand the need and prevent them from skipping out on the next session.


Happy training!




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