Should you charge employees for not attending training?

In most countries you can, and some companies do, but should L&D charge employees if they don’t show up on a training course?

I was discussing this with the L&D manager from a major betting and gaming business.

She said they had issues with people enrolling onto a mandatory ‘presentation’ course, and then not attending. The main problem for L&D was that this course was provided by an external provider, who charged the company regardless of whether people showed up or not.

As a result, L&D made the decision to charge employees who failed to attend (without giving sufficient notice).

The result?

Everyone gives notice if they are unable to attend, providing an opportunity for L&D to manage accordingly. This has greatly reduced the money wasted, and guess what? Not a single employee has fallen victim of the charge.

There are some additional benefits to this approach:

  • Employees are able to ‘push back’ on managers that suggest the cancel (e.g. in order to attend a meeting) – the employee can simply explain that they will get charged if they don’t attend
  • Employees are likely to perceive the course as having greater value when some cost is attached to it, and are likely to get more out of it as a result

Be aware, the way this approach is implemented matters. The L&D manager is quick to highlight that the ‘what & why’ was communicated in advance, and it was felt ‘fair’ to pass on an external cost to employees who incur it unnecessarily. As a result, this approach is only used for this one ‘external’ course.

Which leads us to some issues/limitations with this approach:

  • It is not yet deemed ‘fair’ to use this approach for internal courses, despite them still having an associated cost
  • The increased behaviour is that people provide notice (rather than directly increasing attendance), resulting in extra effort for L&D in rescheduling, refilling places etc.
  • Although it sends a message that courses have a cost, it doesn’t focus on the value that the employees will receive by attending.

Generally, I’d prefer employees to focus on the value they will get for the course, commit fully to attending, and defend their place because they want to attend. I’d also prefer that L&D get managers ‘on side’ to encourage employees to attend, rather than provide a point of friction.

So, ultimately it depends on what you want to achieve, and the message you want to send employees… but remember that there are alternatives that can yield better results, although perhaps aren’t as quick to implement.

What do you think? Do you charge employees if they don’t show up? What other quick wins have you tried? (Please let me know in the comments below).

About The Author

Alexis Kingsbury

Alexis is founder of the Parentpreneur Accelerator and Making Greatness Ltd. He is a serial entrepreneur, with experience creating start-ups in a variety of areas, particularly in SaaS and EdTech. He is also a lucky husband and proud dad, and now helps other 'parentpreneurs' like him to achieve their dreams of having successful businesses, making a difference in the world, and spending time with the people they love.

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