A Plea To L&D Managers: Tell People What Their Training Costs

Something that’s been vexing me recently is how hard it is for companies to get a full turnout for training courses. You’d think that, given the continuing economic hardship that employers and employees are experiencing, if someone is given the opportunity of attending a training workshop, they’d be there. Yet we keep seeing and hearing that some people don’t show, and it’s really hard on the person organising the training. Not only on them, but on the training budget, and (the bit that clearly the no-shows haven’t figured out) on employees.

When I ask L&D managers what reasons people give for not showing up for training, often the responses are astonishingly basic: “I was too busy”, “I had to go to a meeting”. What about managing workload? What about saying “no” to that meeting, or rearranging it? I’m really curious to know if the no-shows tell the colleague or boss who tells them to do that work now or go to that meeting immediately that they should instead be in a training workshop. Maybe they don’t think it’s important, or maybe they don’t dare mention it, for reasons that are beyond me.

The other thing I’m curious about is this: do these no-shows know what their missed training costs? And until I see evidence that convinces me otherwise, I’m inclined to think they have no idea. My hunch is that, in our very British way, we don’t like to discuss the money side of this. Maybe it’s considered rather crass or vulgar. I don’t think it’s either and do think it’s important, and I very much think that any ‘not in front of the children’ about training budgets and costs is woefully misplaced.

A plea: when people are booked on to a training course, whether that’s external, internal, exam-based, 1:1 coaching, off-site residential, whatever darn kind of development your organisation is paying for (breathe Dawn, breathe) – tell them what it costs. Tell them who had to approve that level of investment, and the selection of who got to take the opportunity to develop their skills. Tell them how many places were available and how many people would really love to have been able to get one. Tell them that they will be letting themselves and their colleagues down if they don’t show up. And if they don’t show up, tell them to find some money from one of their more-important-than-training projects to reinstate the funds in the budget. Rant over, for now.

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