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Training can be something employees want and yet they refuse to participate in. Many people want to learn and be up to date in their profession, but ask them to take time out of their day to complete a training course? Forget it. Here are a few reasons why people run away from training.

Lack of time

Lack of time either during work hours or during personal time is the main reason training has a low percentage of participation. Most of us find it difficult enough to manage our time without having to schedule in time for training. How can we change this? One way is by making the experience personal and portable so that individuals can complete the training in their own way and on their own time. If the training must be in-class, consider how best to schedule the training time and provide incentives such as a morning session with breakfast provided.

Lack of relevance

If the content doesn’t resonate with your learners then not only will most not participate but those who do will find it to be a waste of time. It is critical to know your end user and talk to those who will be asked to take the training. Perhaps the training needs to be done in chunks for smaller groups of staff as each area of knowledge pertains to each group. Groups should be small enough so that people are less intimidated and more likely to ask questions. The more audience participation you can muster the better.

Fear of failure

Some thrive on competition. Some fear the outcome will be failure and when it comes to corporate training the outcome of a pass or fail may be public knowledge. Find out if the content must have a pass or fail outcome, or if it is enough to have evidence that each participant has completed the course. What is the game plan for individuals who do fail? Where will they get help? Is your content to blame? Asking these questions at the outset and being able to relay this message to your learners can build trust and give your participants more confidence.

Fear of new responsibilities

Another reason for lack of participation can be the fear of change. “If I take this course will I be asked to do more?” More pressure? More responsibility? Again, some employees thrive on change and being given new challenges. But many are just hoping to continue with the status quo and stay below the radar. It is important to know the purpose of the training and what impact it will have on the learners. Being transparent about future expectations can go a long way to assuaging fears.


It is critical to convince your participants you will add value to the content that they can’t get by completing the course material on their own. The learning material should complement the instruction. If in-class training is not necessary, creating innovative and educational e‑learning tools can go a long way towards motivating your students. Incorporate gamification or perhaps consider a reward for those who complete the course material. Find creative ways to motivate.

As children we are always asking questions. Curiosity and the desire to learn new things is in all of us. The challenge lies in finding the best way to tap into this innate human trait, opening the door to endless possibilities.

Until next time!