20 Reasons Employees Don’t Attend Training

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 our time together to be valuable.

The problem was that a lot of effort and expense went into helping two people improve their resiliency skills.

Adoption for digital transformation

There are many possible reasons

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 at least help focus your efforts on the right problems.

  1. Poor publicity.
  2. Everyone is too busy.
  3. Everyone thinks he or she is too busy. Yes this is different than #2.
  4. Everyone wants to be perceived by others (especially the boss) as too busy.
  5. No encouragement from managers to attend.
  6. Manager didn’t grant permission to attend.
  7. Training is considered a perk rather than a necessity.
  8. People believe they already know everything they need for their jobs.
  9. History of boring, poorly delivered workshops.
  10. Topic isn’t obviously relevant.
  11. Offered during employee’s free time (i.e. lunch hour).
  12. Scheduled at bad times of the month or bad times of the day.
  13. Offered at an inconvenient location.
  14. Everyone’s afraid that attending is a sign of weakness or deficiency.
  15. Everyone is overloaded on screen time.
  16. People aren’t comfortable with the training technology.
  17. No incentive for attending.
  18. Fire-fighting culture that doesn’t value prevention.
  19. Leadership has strong bias for short-term results.
  20. Attendance wasn’t required. Note: I’m not saying it should be.

What do you think?

What would you add to the list? And more importantly, what have you done to overcome some of these?

If I was forced to guess which were most likely, I’d go with some version of “too busy” and lack of encouragement from manager.

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 25 years of training experience, I’d be happy to lend a hand. Send me a note, and we can chat.

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce helps companies change by creating stronger teams, more effective leaders, and better processes. To discuss a challenge you're facing, use this link to schedule a free discovery call.