Beating Summer’s Dog Days of Training


August 28, 2018

Getting workers excited about virtual training can be a challenge on any day of the year. But summer always seems particularly difficult, doesn’t it?

When the weather’s hot and the days are long, it’s hard enough for people to be trapped indoors let alone forced to learn. For some it may bring up painful memories of having to sweat through summer school. For others, it can simply be a matter of contending with tighter schedules.

Parents may need to come in a bit later or leave a bit earlier to accommodate childcare situations and extracurricular activities that change once school is out. Contractors may be giving their employer fewer hours or less flexibility. And everyone’s either dreaming about that big summer vacation coming up or working double-time trying to get everyone off our desk before we go.

Whatever the reason, summer training sessions may generate special resentment, because workers feel they just don’t have the time. So what’s a dedicated training manager to do?

Here are some suggestions we came up with to help keep your training on track through the summer doldrums:

  • Assign a priority level to each training session and then schedule accordingly. Is it absolutely essential that everyone attend a certain session? If so, you may want to push it back to September when you aren’t competing with summer vacations or summer Fridays.
  • Or work with HR to ensure sessions are scheduled around these vacations. Once your session is scheduled, you and HR can rule out any planned absences on that date.
  • Use some creative marketing when informing workers of a session. I often see emails used to advertise an upcoming webinar, and there’s often very little about them that encourages me to register. Don’t just make it mandatory. Sell it in a way that makes workers want to attend!
  • Emphasize engagement and quizzes in your sessions to ensure memory retention. If ever there’s a time for gamification, summer is it.
  • Focus on ensuring attendance from within the executive ranks. It’s a lot harder to say no to a training session and to not be engaged when you know your manager will be there.
  • Feed your employees. Avoid sessions that eat into their own lunch time, but be sure to bring in special refreshments that make the session at least a little bit more enjoyable. People also tend to be more social over food, which can help boost active participation.

Finally, the best way to keep attendance and excitement for your session high—even during the summer months—is to consistently deliver strong sessions to begin with. They should be fun. They should be interactive. And more importantly, they should be valued.

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