As an L&D professional, you work tirelessly to train your staff and to develop your training programs so that they’re effective. But how do you know when and if you’ve implemented too much training to the point where it’s no longer effective? And how do you know when your learners will become fatigued with your training materials or methods?
What Is Over-Training, and Why Is It Bad?
Over-training can occur in different ways. Sometimes, organizations place too many training demands on newer employees or other employees who are expected to learn the ropes of a new role while also performing their everyday work functions.
Other times, organizations repeat learning material and topics so much in their training programs that employees become apathetic to the material they’ve encountered and stop listening and engaging with the material. And sometimes, employees are just exposed to way too many training resources at once on a consistent basis without clear direction or insight and can become overwhelmed as to what they’re supposed to be learning and when or how they should be developing.
All forms of over-training are bad because they can lead to:
- Increased rates of stress in employees;
- A significant waste of time and money dedicated to learning resources that aren’t being properly developed, managed, or consumed; and
- Apathetic employees with decreased engagement levels.
Signs Employees are Being Over-Trained
You can tell your employees are being over-trained when they:
- Begin to exhibit outward signs of stress and start missing work more often
- Show even worse performance at work after they’ve undergone training
- Stop completing exercises and assessments in their training environments
- Cease participating in your training programs or quit working for your organization
How to Avoid Over-Training Employees
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can ensure you don’t over-train your employees.
- Understand trainees’ current work demands and workloads, as well as any other commitments that they have. And always strive to integrate your trainees’ exercises and learning material within the context of their everyday work environments so that they are more likely to retain and contextualize the material they’re learning.
- Offer microlearning and e-learning options to trainees so that they can learn at their own paces and so they have opportunities to cover training material when it’s most convenient for them.
- Avoid distributing redundant learning materials. Keep detailed records of employees and what information and skills they’re well-versed in already. Also, distribute learning materials in different formats to reduce redundancy (i.e., videos, modules, handouts, live webinars, etc.).
- Provide hands-on opportunities for your trainees so they can experience firsthand what they’re attempting to learn. And offer informal learning opportunities so that trainees can discover best practices on their own and learn at their own paces.
If you keep the information outlined above in mind, you’ll be able to avoid over-training your employees, increasing the overall effectiveness of your training programs.