Once I went to an organization that requested a one-hour workshop on resiliency. It was promoted to all employees as a short, lunch-time seminar. Besides the HR person who booked it, only five people registered. Of those, only one other person showed up.
The three of us had a fun and meaningful conversation on the topic. I quite enjoyed myself and believe the other two found the workshop to be a valuable use of their time. The problem was that a whole lot of effort and expense went into helping two people improve their resiliency skills.
Following the session the HR manager and I tried to figure out the reason for such low attendance at this workshop and others like it that had been previously offered. Later, I decided to make a list of all the possibilities.
If you’ve got responsibility for training in your company, and struggle to get people to attend, this list is for you. The trick is to figure out which apply. While I haven’t offered solutions, the list will help focus your efforts on the right problems.
- Poor publicity.
- Everyone is too busy.
- Everyone thinks he or she is too busy. Yes this is different than #2.
- Everyone wants to be perceived by others (especially the boss) as too busy.
- No encouragement from managers to attend.
- Training is considered a perk rather than a necessity.
- People believe they already know everything they need for their jobs.
- History of boring, poorly delivered workshops.
- Topic isn’t obviously relevant.
- Offered during employee’s free time (i.e. lunch hour).
- Scheduled at bad times of the month or bad times of the day.
- Everyone’s afraid that attending is a sign of weakness or deficiency.
- No incentive for attending.
- Fire-fighting culture that doesn’t value prevention.
- Leadership has strong bias for short-term results.
- Isn’t mandatory.
What would you add to the list? And more importantly, what have you done to overcome some of these? Hoping that people will show up for future training sessions isn’t a strategy. You need a plan. You need to act on it.
With more than twenty years of training experience, I’d be happy to lend a hand. Send me a note, and we can chat.