6 Real Reasons Why Employees Fail Their Certification Online Training

Online Training Certifications 6 Reasons Of Failure
Summary: We all love colorful certificates, and we enjoy showing them off well into adulthood. So why is it that corporate certification courses have such low uptake and such high failure rates?

6 Reasons Of Failure In Online Training Certifications

Certification falls into three categories. Social certificates are shiny doodads you can post online, but they have a minimal corporate impact. Completion certificates are more for personal satisfaction. They’re useful in certain official contexts, e.g. a charity run or college application. Verified certificates are the highest level. They’re compatible across multiple organizations and institutions because they are validated by recognized regulatory bodies. The curriculum, test modules, and the certificates themselves have to be evaluated, approved, and stamped/signed. But why are your certificate courses performing so poorly? What’s the real reason why employees fail their certification online training even though you’ve stressed its importance? And how can you turn things around to improve their performance and L&D ROI?

1. Irrelevance

How did you pick the subject of your certification course? If it’s a matter of compliance, it’s pretty straightforward. We all see the need for industry-based licensing or safety certification. But outside of that, what were your criteria, and did you check in with your team? It doesn’t matter how good your course is if your trainees aren’t interested. They simply won’t sign up, and if they do, they won’t put in any effort. As a result, they will fail. Before offering certification-based content, find out if there’s demand for it. Does it fulfill a specific gap or goal? Another way to make it more relevant is to emphasize the real-world repercussions and benefits.

2. Low Application

Similarly, why did the trainees enroll? If it’s a mandatory course, then that’s fine. But if it’s voluntary, the training certificate itself has to be worth their time. Are they doing it for a promotion, or to find a job elsewhere? Will it be usable outside the office? Can it help them qualify for a higher course? Does it teach a skill they value at a personal level? If these qualifications aren’t addressed, then even if learners sign up, they won’t work hard enough to pass. They might also fail if the content is too complex to use in everyday life and/or work. They might be failing because your materials are incomprehensible and inapplicable.

3. Excessive Length

How long does it typically take to earn certificates? Depends on the subject, really. You could probably gain fire safety certificates in a day while training to actually fight the fire can take months or even years. Remember though, adult trainees are pressed for time. If it takes too long, they’re likely to drop off. Procrastination could also lead to a last-minute panic, resulting in failure. Keep courses as brief as possible, and if they must extend, include a study plan. Check in with periodic notifications, reminding trainees of their timetable. You might also consider breaking more involved certification online training courses into separate certificates. For example, your comprehensive sales course becomes seven distinct courses that impart certain skills or abilities.

4. Exaggerated Brevity

You’ll hear that a course can never be “too short.” It can, though, if it’s a certification course. Trainees need a specified level of expertise to be licensed and/or registered, especially for compliance courses. They have to be comfortable stating regulations, interpreting their scope, and implementing their range. So, for example, a course that tests your ability to recite complex laws is inadequate. Graduates will quote regulations but may still engage in non-compliant activities. Or they might be fine with the exam portion that states rules but fail to recognize cases of non-compliance. Length doesn’t always signify depth, so audit your course both for duration and depth.

5. Inadequate Upgrades

The physical or virtual version of your certificate doesn’t have to change. You can recycle the same one forever, simply changing the name and date. However, the subject matter does shift. For example, at different times, we believed first aid for nosebleeds involved polar opposites. (a) Lean forward, head between knees, damp cool cloth at the back of your neck, and pinch your nostrils shut. (b) Lean back or lie down, damp cloth on your forehead, pinch nostrils shut. There are books, demos, and even medical experts that advocate both. So, both sets could fail their first aid certification, depending on who’s administering the exam. Check that your material is fully up to date and is verified by trusted regulatory bodies.

6. Lack Of Motivation

One of the most common reasons why employees fail certification online training is poor motivation or drive. They don’t see what’s in it for them or why they have to actively participate. Thus, they’re unable to fully immerse in the content and pass the certification course exam. There are a number of ways to tackle this problem. You can let them set their own goals throughout the course, in addition to achieving the organizational objectives. Or allow them to create their own training schedule and stress the benefits that the certificate can bring, such as giving them the ability to work in other departments and potentially be in line for that big promotion.


Certification courses seem like they should be pretty popular. After all, you have something tangible to show for your hard work. And it can be especially gratifying as social proof. It validates you to acquaintances with a general suspicion of online training. But what makes employees fail their certification courses? If it’s too long, too short, or too outdated, trainees won’t do well. Update your content regularly and consult your trainees on the exact certification they require. That way, your curriculum will match their interests, they’ll apply more effort, and their success rates will increase.

Invest in an LMS that can help you manage and monitor your online training certification course and improve completion rates. Our online directory features the top platforms that feature certificate management. You can even compare systems on your shortlist to see how they stack up.