There are so many reasons why employees don’t engage with training programs that we could fill a season of late-night icon David Letterman’s “Top Ten.” For the sake of time, we’ll stick to the Top 3.

Starting with Number 3…There’s No Marketing Plan!

“Thanks for the email with login information, but what is this program all about?” Every learner’s first question is, “What’s in it for me?” When we fail to market the program and don’t answer that vital question, it’s no wonder employees don’t feel a great urge to embrace it.

Providing a clear incentive has always been the bedrock of good learning programs; not providing one is inexcusable. Today, we can be very creative in how we get the message out. Video and animations create a familiar YouTube-like experience. Recently, there are more and more programs that never use the word “training” at all. One offered, enticingly, “Get ready to rock Jukebox and have the opportunity to select a personalized path to success.”

Don’t expect your training team to be the marketers for your programs. Engage your in-house marketing team to assist with your most valuable assets: your employees. Marketing is such a crucial part of the rollout process that not placing a value on it can sink your initiative before it starts.

Coming in at Number 2…The Program Isn’t Designed with a Learner in Mind!

One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work anymore.

We have now entered a universe where the learner wants to be the sun, and all the resources must revolve around them. Employees can identify a generic program immediately when they realize it doesn’t provide value for their role in the organization.

Today’s employees want to be informed when new content becomes available but crave the flexibility to consume it on their own schedule. They like an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI) with robust search capabilities. They also want to contribute to the curriculum by offering feedback through surveys and social media.

Developing a learner-centric approach takes commitment and hard work. Each job description must be clearly defined and assessed with competency mapping. This process forms the foundation of a tailored performance plan for each employee, based on the strengths and weaknesses their managers identify. It’s worth the effort.

Generic programs continue to fail in the face of low engagement and poor employee evaluation. Low utilization plagues most non-compliance (read: not legally mandated) training, and evaluating employees on generic programs sheds little light on their job proficiency.

And the Number 1 Reason Employees Are Not Engaged with Training Programs Is…Modality.

Anyone who has ever been a teacher knows one thing for sure: Everyone learns differently. Some people need to read the material, and others need to hear it explained. Some need to watch it, while others must actually do it themselves. Too many programs rely on a singular approach that only offers one method. Learners are forced to read, follow a self-paced program or sit through instructor-led classes. If you can’t learn it with the modality offered, tough luck.

When building training programs, we must consider the medium – or media – used. Do we build it so it can be accessed through multiple devices? Employees want the option to learn when and where they want and with the device they have on hand.

Finally, we must consider the treatment of content. Our goal should be to create training programs that are engaging and easy to understand. We can start accomplishing our goals by utilizing techniques like microlearning and incorporating video, animation and gaming assets.

It’s crucial that you avoid these three traps. Setting a training plan up for failure is no joke.

But there are lessons in the punchlines. Letterman had another bit he called “Stupid Pet Tricks.” From watching pets and their owners perform feats that obviously required hours of training, what I remember most is that both of them seemed to be having a good time. Some people think that training can’t be personalized, much less fun. I’m not one of them. I hope when you create your next training program, you’re not either.