Course completion is often a big challenge for training providers. It can be hard to get learners to do online training, for various reasons. For example, perhaps there is a lack of communication about the reason and importance of the training. Alternatively, the way training needs to be completed may be difficult for the type of work environment that the learners are in. An example of this would be computer-based training for an on-the-go learner population.

Whatever the reason, here are best practices for increasing your training completion rates.

Use internal communication

To make sure clients understand the importance of properly communicating learning goals, course launch dates, course due dates, course objectives, and course directions should all be well-communicated to learners before course launch. Learners should not be surprised when they receive an email inviting them to take training. Important things to talk through with clients include the following:

  • Users should be made aware of upcoming training from their manager well ahead of time.
  • If people don’t know about the training or don’t understand its importance, it can be difficult to get them to do it.
  • Ensure that deadlines are fully understood and included in all communications sent to the learners.
  • Put the time in on pre-launch. This gives your learners the opportunity to schedule a time to complete the e-learning and not feel under pressure when it’s time to take the course.
  • Make sure that client managers/admins are on board with the program. If needed, provide them with the training first, so they can be ambassadors of the training program.

Use automatic LMS-generated assignment and reminder emails

Take advantage of the communication tools within the learning management system (LMS). Best practices on how to use those communication tools include:

  • Messages for Admins/Managers
    • Notify administrators/managers about courses approaching their due date with users who have not completed them. The admin/manager can communicate with these users directly to remind them.
    • Notify administrators/managers about courses that have users who are overdue.
  • Messages for Learners
    • New course-assigned emails can notify an existing user that they have been assigned a course.
    • Reminder emails can remind a participant about an upcoming due date for activities that they have not completed.

Use reports to track completions.

Having an LMS that can provide robust and dynamic reports is crucial to increasing course completion rates. Consider running a report for a list of users who haven’t completed the training on time and reaching out to them directly. Once you have this data in hand, you can send it regularly to admins/managers for review. Have an email template or communication plan for this set up ahead of time.

During the training pre-launch activities, ensure that admin/managers understand how to run reports within the LMS. This will enable the clients to be fully empowered to increase their own training completion rates.

Offer completion incentives and recognition for users

Incentives don’t have to be an Amazon gift card. They can be as simple as ensuring that your courses include a certificate of completion. Completion certificates can be automatically accessible to learners after course completion, or managers can be notified when a certificate is earned and present a printed certificate to the learner. Completion certificates can provide a sense of satisfaction for the learner, keeping them motivated for additional training in the future.

Managers can also take further advantage of LMS-sent emails to be notified when a learner completed a course. They can then meet with those learners to determine how the training went and discuss with them what was learned and how it applies to their job. This recognition from management can help reinforce development and drive behavioral change.


Getting learners to complete training can be an uphill battle at times. However, having a concrete strategy in place can make it much easier. Key points to include in your strategy include the following:

  • Ensure that the learner is fully aware that training is coming soon. This can be done using the LMS communication tools or by having upper management email the learners. Learners should never be surprised about training assignments.
  • Use the LMS to send reminders to learners and managers about overdue course assignments.
  • Run regular reports on course completions, and use those reports to increase course completion rates.
  • Empower client managers and admins by training them on all the reports that they can use to run a successful training program.
  • Incentivize early course completion. It doesn’t have to be a gift card—think about having a nice completion certificate that users would want to print and display.

If you have all these strategies in place before your training starts, the expected outcome should be learners completing the assigned training at an increased rate.

For additional resources on how to increase course completion rates, the importance of dynamic and robust LMS reporting, and how course design can increase training completion, check out the following links:

Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.

Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!