Course Completion Rates

Dec 11, 2014

Course Completion Rates

Just wanting to get a feel for what other organizations are experiencing with regard to completion rates for e-Learning courses.

Just to set the scenario:

Of our 1000 employees, 45% of them failed to meet a sales metric over the last 90 days. Those individuals were then told they had 1 week to complete a related course.

This course, as do most of our courses, takes 7 mins at most to complete.

At the end of the specified time period we are seeing 25% completion. This is a pretty consistent % regardless of the course, situation, etc.

We always end up at 100% completion but it might take a month to get there (I am aware this is a systemic accountability problem).

Again, can anyone provide their 1-2 week completion %, and perhaps a few best practices you have employed that might benefit us at our organization?

6 Replies
Nicole Legault

Hi there Brandon!

Cool topic, thanks for bringing it up.

Unfortunately I personally can't share any completion rates but I'd love to hear from other community members if they do. Also, when it comes to  best practices for getting people to complete their courses sooner, like you said it's all about accountability. Can you do anything to motivate them to get it done sooner? Any incentives or perks you can offer to them for getting it done by a specific time?

I'd also love to hear if community members have other tips for motivating learners to complete their courses more quickly.

Thanks again for sharing your question here, Brandon!

Ralf  Baum

Hi Brandon,

It is difficult to assess the learning culture of a company. Each company is different and most of them have other rules in case of learning.

At least I have seen two different strategies in companies to forward the completion of trainings:

1) Pressure of the LMS and sneaking to the manager

In this topic the "dead line" of completion is quite tough. Due to the fact that the topic is very important the learners only have 1 or 2 week(s) to complete the course. If you do not complete you'll receive an email that you must finish this course until a specific date otherwise your manager/boss or "chief" gets the information about your non-completion

2) Completion rate and annual bonus

In this specific case your manager has to decide how outstanding your work was in 2014. Of course it is not (only) a subjective grading. It also depends on some data. If one of the "pillars of the bonus world" is the learning success people are quite motivted to complete the courses.


Just something from my experience knowing that the completion rate of the training was acceptable. In the busy business world perhaps some pressure is neccessary....

Bob S

Hi Brandon,

So this is "punishment" training?

Now I'm sure that's not how it is intended, but perhaps that perception is contributing to the issue. No one wants to embrace something they see as a consequence right?

My first thought is to re-position the learning as being key to success in the role/against goal. Then offer exemptions or test-out options to folks who have hit goal x out of last y months.

Second, a week is tight. Think vacations, sick days, off-site meetings, etc. I might suggest a two-week window.

Third, if it's just e-learning, that's another big opportunity. Instead consider having the learner meet with sales manager after the learning to discuss how they will be putting what they just learned into practice for the rest of the month. Set a short term SMART goal against the specific knowledge gained. This often best done in terms of agreeing to try something new/different for the rest of the month....  after all if what they were doing before was perfect they would have hit goal right?

Finally, consider some public visibility/competition. Never under estimate the competitive nature of salespeople!  A board (virtual or actual) listing the players and the learning topics and give either "completed" or "exempted" for completions. Motivates those that are doing it right (either sales results or personal development to get future results) and as importantly, makes it very clear who isn't playing.   Along with this, when you set a course deadline.... mean it. Close access to the course after the two-week period!  

Hope this helps and good luck.

Brandon Alsup

Thanks for your feedback!

We already have escalation policies in place, as you mentioned. I just feel like maybe we could strengthen the accountability there.

I love your thoughts on motivation. We are currently trying to put together a "Course Credits" type of program that would allow learners to spend these credits at a company store.


Brandon Alsup

Thanks Bob!

You've got some great stuff here; this is exactly why I threw this topic up on the discussion board.

I think repositioning the culture around the training would make a huge difference. We are very new to this type of training/training program and I'd hate for it to get the wrong perspective.

Your thoughts on the time-span are also noted. I guess my biggest fear in extending is communicating less importance or urgency as well as people just straight up forgetting about it. thoughts?

Bob S

Regarding the top-of-mind issue...  This may be a local example, but perhaps it will help.

Ever see those silly billboards up and down I-95 that say "Good news - Only 134 miles to South of the Border" .... "Pedro says - Only 80 miles to South of the Border" .... "Guess what - Only 22 miles to South of the Border"...  you get the idea.  (By the way, South of the Border is just  a highway tourist-trap gift shop/attraction type thing but what great marketing!)


Rather than a one and done approach with a tight deadline, consider making it a bit more realistic and then communicating status updates a couple of times.   Again you can tie this to the competitive aspect....  "143 of your colleagues have completed X course, have you?  6 days left so you don't miss out"

The reality is that as training professionals we sometimes have to be internal marketing pros too.  :)

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