By Brad Karsh, President, JB Training Solutions
As an HR professional, you are thrilled to organize compelling training programs for your employees, but how do you guarantee high attendance and participation? No matter how great the program is on paper, if attendance is low, then the impact is lost. So what can you do?
Fortunately, there are a few simple and (mostly) free techniques for filling your training room every time:
- Help employees clear their schedules. Many employees are fearful of taking a half or full day away from their desk because of what they may miss. To dispel the fear of falling behind, encourage teams to pitch in for one another when a team member is in a training session. The participant will be much more focused and engaged in the training if they have the support of their manager and aren’t stressing out about missing an important e-mail or call.
- Have a senior leader invite employees. Have the CEO send an e-mail inviting employees to the training and encourage managers to personally invite their teams to attend. The buy-in from organization leaders is a great way to establish training as an important professional development opportunity.
- Tell employees exactly what they’ll get out of it. Sometimes employees aren’t sure what to expect from training. Be upfront so there are no surprises. Provide them with the program description, information about the trainer, and any other relevant information. Take it a step further by telling them how the training program will make them better at their jobs. Will the training improve their client presentations? Improve their management approach with interns? Highlighting the deliverables is a great way to entice employees and boost attendance.
- Make it a reward. Consider extending special invitations as a reward to high-performing employees. A global survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed that training and development is the most highly valued benefit for Millennials in the first five years of their career. One-third of respondents elected training and development as their first choice benefit (aside from salary). Leadership development training can be a tribute to a younger professional and a great way to encourage your star employees. The element of exclusivity to the training will make others want to be included, and employees who value training will feel honored and excited.
- Kick off the training with recognition or announcements. A great way to lure employees to training is to publicize that an announcement will be shared or an award will be given. Use training as a platform to recognize the Employee of the Month or to reveal a new client. Employees will want to attend to hear the big news.
- Ensure follow-up training. Training cannot end when the workshop concludes. Follow up by leading one-on-one conversations with employees on topics discussed in the training. Conduct a lunch-and-learn to expand on key points from the workshop. You can easily find Webinars, e-learning, and books on related topics to solidify key points and further enhance the training culture at your organization.
- Recognize employee improvements. Encourage managers to give positive feedback if they see their employees improving as a result of the training session. “Catherine, I’ve noticed you’ve really improved your presentation skills since the last workshop.”When employees know their time spent away from their desk was worthwhile and they are getting results, they will be motivated to attend training in the future.
- Make it relevant and keep it fun. If you want to ensure your next training class is empty, run a mundane training course. Instead, find out what your employees want. Survey your employees to discover their interests and development opportunities, and then find compelling programs that match their needs. As a manager, you can empower your employees by making them feel like they’ve had a hand in creating and deciding the focus for the training workshops. When training is fun and relevant, attendees will wantto be there.
Brad Karsh is president and lead trainer at JB Training Solutions, which offers interactive programs to assist professionals in achieving success in the workplace. moved into HR, where he was responsible for hiring and training hundreds of employees. He has worked with companies including Abbott Laboratories, Quaker, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Redbox, and GATX. Prior to starting JB Training Solutions, Karsh spent 15 years at advertising giant Leo Burnett in Chicago. He began his career in account management, working on clients including McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, and Pillsbury. For information, visit http://www.jbtrainingsolutions.com.