How to Motivate Employees to Attend Training

By Katie Hageman

March 30, 2019

How to Motivate Employees to Attend Training

The mere mention of “training” often causes people in a room to groan. Post-training discussions often include complaints of the session being a waste of time. This negative experience translates to a general negative attitude towards office training. If you are an employer stumped on how to motivate employees to attend training, consider the following strategies to increase company productivity and efficiency:

Give Employees a Reason to Attend

Tell your employees the long-term benefits that will follow if they participate in training,A course that will advance an employee’s skills will be better attended than a simple review session. Apart from career advancement opportunities, smaller rewards motivate employees. Training incentives for employees could include event tickets, cash prizes, or even just good food! It’s easy to bribe people into attending with the promise of pizza, but make sure the session also offers a valid chance to improve one’s skills. Food might make people attend, but you need to keep everyone actively participating in training once they get there, not sitting inattentively waiting for the end.

Consider incentives that translate to long term personal growth. People love friendly competition. Take advantage of this by hosting some sort of progress-based game among coworkers. For example, every time an employee masters a new skill or completes a certification, they earn points for their team. There can be rewards throughout the competition or at the end. Either way, you can motivate training by taking a creative approach.

Make the Session Valuable

Personalize the content to engage employees in training. Tailor topics toward the employees’ needs to make the information more relevant and effective. Planning shouldn’t be an afterthought. Take the time to organize training so that your employees will thank you after they attend. If the training is about a new company software, the session should differ depending on what departments people are coming from and how they will actually use the software.

Employees should walk away with new knowledge or strengthened relationships. One way to do this is to encourage all team members to attend training. Having managers and office leaders present allows people to learn from their peers. Make people feel like they are going because it’s an important part of their job, not an unnecessary task.

Create Excitement

The objective is to get people in the door. If people have no idea what to expect or what they will gain, employees won’t see the training as a priority. In order to increase excitement surrounding the training session, the trainers should be bubbly and enthusiastic. Nobody wants to sit in a room and listen to people who don’t have a passion for what they’re speaking about.

Engage employees in training by making it interactive. Change topics frequently, use raffles or giveaways, and add humor to examples and explanations. Strive to make everyone in the room crack a smile at least once.

Make Training Fun

Think of ways to make a day of training something your employees will talk about and remember long after it happens. Whether it is starting the day with jumping jacks or finishing the day with an ice cream sundae party, make the day different. People generally like activities so making training a series of smaller tasks instead of bland presentations can increase engagement.

In larger companies, employees attending training sessions might not know each other. Use these sessions to your advantage and promote coworker bonding. As awkward as ice breakers may sometimes be, they are fun to look back on and bring out people’s personalities much quicker than any other activity might.

Stress Usefulness

Instead of telling employees that a training session will be great, tell them why! Sometimes people might not realize they need help until they receive it. Showcase employees that have benefited from training in the past. Coaching and mentoring are great additions to a day of training. In an employee's downtime, they can network with others and receive feedback about their work. Promote the idea that attending training will make an employee’s work today easier tomorrow.

Be Respectful and Flexible

Mandatory training is often seen as an unwanted obligation. Instead of making training mandatory on a specific day, give employees the option of when they would like to attend. Let people pick from times so that they can best incorporate it into their schedule. However, even then there are always people in the company who may be too busy. Another option is to make the training available on demand. Employees will be glad to use online training modules that cater to their packed schedule.

Other ideas to motivate employees are to make everyone feel appreciated and recognized. If employees feel they are just a number on paper to be checked off, they won’t feel valued. Asking for feedback both before and after training will help employers improve the sessions in the future. When employers make an effort to tailor training towards employee wishes, there’s a better chance people will take the training seriously.

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Make training interactive

Motivate employees to attend training by making it a better alternative. As an example, Pixar has been recognized as a leading company in interactive training. Their program hosts various classes each week covering fine arts to skills like improv. In an attempt to promote workplace collaboration, the program focuses on company training and employee education and encourages employees to attend any sessions they please. Implementing an exciting system like this will redefine people’s attitude on training.

Welcome Failure

Clearly express that failure is natural. Employees might be hesitant to try something new out of fear of doing something wrong. Trainers should use constructive criticism and patience to make the attendants feel comfortable. A training incentive for employees could help everyone understand that refining their skills is a sign of success.

Katie Hageman
Katie Hageman

Magazine Journalism and Business Marketing