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Preventative measures


Three out of eight participants failed to turn up to a two day training event. How can I ensure this doesn't happen again, or at least reduce the possiblity of it re-occurring?

I currently send out joining instructions detailing the specifics of the event, and entrust managers to ensure their staff get to the session.

I don't want to 'react' to this, I'd rather prevent it happening again in the future.

Any ideas?

9 Responses

  1. Attendance Feedback
    Keep a record of attendance showing who attends each event and who their manager is. Then each month send a report with names and attendance figures to the attendees, their managers, and their managers’ managers. Ask for comments from the managers on your report: and ask them – are we getting value for money if we arrange these events and people don’t show up? No? Then what should we do about it, do you think?

    To really make it proactive, announce in advance (in your memo publicising the events) that you will be recording attendance by department, and explain why.

  2. Non Attendance
    Do you know why they did not attend? There could be a simple answer and it might be a once off.

    If it is not, I personally, don’t think running bits of attendance paperwork up and down the management chain of command will work.

    A visit to those who should have been there to ascertain their reasons might show something of use in term of attitude to training or specifically this training.

    I have never had a student ditch a seminar but do set up a control and get an opt in from all expected well in advance. We work with large organisations and always spend time putting in the controls well before the first session as managers tend to be so busy, training of individuals gets missed.

    Let us know what happens!

    Good Luck
    TBD Global Ltd
    0870 241 3998

  3. Do you use appointments?
    We use appointments in Lotus Notes (or Outlook) to confirm delegate places and attach course details. The course appears in their diaries.

  4. Cost of non-attendance
    It will be no consolation to know that you are not alone. Many training departments I deal with face similar problems. I have found the best ways to tackle this are:
    1. Last minute cancellations are perhaps the greatest wasted cost in T&D. Work out how much that cost is and present it to the Board. Seek there agreement to chase the managers of those not attending.
    2. Charge a cancellation fee (even if your courses are normally ‘free’) but be prepared to waive this fee in cases of illness or whre there are other good grounds. You won’t have to administer this often as cancellations will fall of rapidly.
    3. Persisitently publish the positive results of training not just for the organisation but for individuals. Publish personal success stories in applying learning and in career moves. And get those who do attend to write an article for the office magazine on how interesting and valuable the courses are.

    Good luck!

    Graham O’connell
    Centre for Management & Policy Studies

  5. Non attendance
    I have done numerous training sessions on different topics and have had very few where there is 100% attendance for various reasons, and it is not because of the content or method of instruction!

    If the training requirement is part of the employee’s performance plan and they are held accountable to attend, this may get you a higher attendance. If they don’t attend, that should be the employee’s manager’s responsibility, not yours, to determine why they weren’t there. I think having upper management support for the training who emphasize attendance may be your biggest help in reducing it from happening again. Again, making the attendees accountable and they are measured on attending training (i.e. no raises without attending specific training). I don’t think there is any one answer that will completely solve your problem.

  6. Ensure the participants understand why they should attend the tr
    I was interested to read about your recent problems with non attendees. We deliver training programmes thoughout the year on an open and in-company basis and generally our attendance records are very good.

    We find that if participants understand the reason for attending the programme and the results they will benefit from, as opposed to the consequences of non attendance, the number of participants expected on the day do turn up.

    The time joining instructions are sent is important – too early and they are forgotten about, too late and something else will have come up. We find it is beneficial if the joining instructions also include details of the programme, the areas to be covered and it’s objectives. Finally, we always encourage participants to complete a structured development plan and in some cases personal preparation work prior to attending. This involves sitting down with their line manager to discuss and agree what they want to achieve.

  7. Non-Attendance
    I would have to agree with all of the comments below because that was a serious problem in a previous company that I worked for.

    If you delve deeper into what prevented the delegates attending the course, then you will prevent possible embarrassing situations if their non attendance is related to a personal problems.

    We asked some of the other delegates, why they were not attending and the greatest response was that the training was free and what were we worried about?? It was especially frustrating because we had a long waiting list and it felt like this devalued our hard work in providing a quality product.

    When the enthusiastic delegates arrived for training, they often asked why we had not contacted their friends/colleagues who were on the standby list.

    Lose/Lose situation.

    We tried many of the suggestions that were listed below and to no avail.

    Then we decided to integrate a widely publicised Training Policy that included a very comprehensive section about Non Attendance. We charged the offending department, 60 pounds for anything less than 48 hours working day written cancellation notice, excluding public holidays etc. etc. (without written acknowledgement from their Manager that the delegate was ill etc.). Also, we included a grace period for late arrivals of 15 minutes as well, so that the delegates, who arrived on time, were not delayed in starting their training session.

    We had the full support of the Training Manager and we were able to train without being treated as a care-free, non-important, internal service. She dealt with all late arrivals and ‘creative’ Managers who trying to avoid the non-attendance fee.

    We publicised the policy as an ‘advertisement’ at the beginning of each training session. When delegates signed up for a course, they had to also sign the policy with their Manager’s approval. We posted the policy in all of the training rooms.

    ‘Overkill’ it may seem, but it worked. Incidentally it highlighted delegates who were using the authorised training day as their own personal holiday at the pub!

    Once a cost had been added to non-attendance, our attendance level rose to about 90 percent and the remaining 10 percent we usually filled from our standby list. Win/Win situation.

    This policy added value (literally and figuratively) to the Training Department and solved the problem.

  8. Many voluntary sector organisations have found charging for non-
    This has always been a big problem in the voluntary sector, where training fees are deliberately kept low, with some courses being free, in order not to disadvantage potential participants from under-resourced organisations. As mentioned by some of the other respondents, we have found that charging a substantial fee for non-attendance (without notification or good reason such as illness on the day) decreases the number of no-shows substantially.

  9. A few ideas
    Hi Emily, here a few things that have worked for me over the years…

    1) Have a cancellations policy, and be up front and very explicit about it with managers/ delegates (put it on the joining instructions, etc.). If they do cancel then bill them, especially if its very short notice (I am not sure whether you cross charge internally so this one might not apply, whether you agree with internal charges or not this can be useful for making people understand the value. I have seen it used even when you don’t cross charge – after all there’s often venues, etc. involved)
    2) Have a standbys list – people who are on a waiting list for places (depends on size of organisation though)
    3) Build a pre course call to the delegates into your course preparation – if its a few weeks before the event it often means you have time to warn ‘standys’ etc. have arguements with managers before you get to the actual day of the event.
    4)Spend a lot of effort ensuring the training is targeted (interviews/calls/discussions/meetings/etc) – I have found many people cancel because they realise the programme isn’t what they thought it was.
    5) Make sure its targeted on strategic issues for the businesses (simple e.g. if the department wants to sell more of a product they are much less likely to miss a sales training event?)
    6) (If you can get this level of influence)have it built into management appraisal systems and targets. Often training is the first thing that gets cancelled because managers don’t see it affecting the ‘bottom line’. Many managers will use business reasons as excuses and if their financial targets are met this could be seen as OK. However if you can make sure that course cancellations (the cost to the business of trainers and other delegates wasted time/ cancelled venues/ facilities/ equipment)are included in their financials they might think twice ?
    7) If your organisation uses standards such as IIP I believe there are issues around failing to complete planned training that can affect your status (more stick than carrot this one I think, but more power in this situation if you have it)

    Hope these help, and/or give you a few more ideas or methods to test and explore.


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