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Trainer’s Tip: Charging for Non-Attendance


How do you deal with the perennial problem of non-attenders? Graham O'Connell has some ideas.

I have worked with a number of organisations on this very issue. I have found some where about 25% of the budget is effectively wasted because of last minute cancellations and 'no shows'.

I have used a range of options from league tables, and poster campaigns through to report backs to the line manager and charging.

If you do a report to senior management make sure you show the full cost of non attendance (not just the notional or direct costs). This could be anywhere around £100-300 per person per day - if it is coming out at £50 then you are either running a cheap-skate operation or, more likely, you don't have a full and proper costing mechanism (and if I was a director I'd look on this quite critically). If it is coming out at £500 you are either gold-plating your training or are inefficient (and, guess what, if I was a director I'd look on this quite critically too). So, firstly, make sure you get your sums right.

I am a great advocate for charging a cancellation fee but others are right to suggest you do some sounding out to check that this will fit with the culture and that the charging mechanisms are not too problematic.

In practice, if you make a full cost charge for non attendance (with exemptions for illness etc.) you may find that people value training a little more, and that attendance goes up making you more effective and more cost efficient, and with luck you will get more learning out to those who need it.

One final thought, how about charging for attendance but giving a full refund to anyone who can demonstrate that they have applied the learning and made a difference to the organisation. This acts more of a reward than a penalty, and it focuses less on attendance (anyone can just turn up) and more on application of learning and performance.

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Charging for non attendance?

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