5 Signs You're Overtraining Your Employees

Posted by Francine Haliva on Sep 22, 2015 4:39:59 AM

Everyone knows that overtraining is bad when it comes to workouts, but is it possible to over-train your employees?  The answer is yes. Even though continuous learning, skill development and training are important, overtraining can lead to employee 'burnout.'  And just like an athlete, companies that over-train their employees may experience a decrease in performance, failure to make progress, and a loss on their investment. We have compiled a list of 5 common 'symptoms' of overtraining your employees and how to prevent it:

1.    Stress

It is common knowledge that investing in your employees leads to a better workplace environment. Most companies offer continuous training to their employees to add value and keep employees up-to-date on new trends, technologies and information in their particular area of work. However, some companies go overboard by requiring their employees to complete an unrealistic number of hours of on-going training while maintaining the same level of efficiency. This overtraining can become very stressful to the employee over the long term and can lead to underperformance, employee frustration, higher turn-over, and reduced productivity.

2.    Loss of Interest

Let's face it. Long and extensive training sessions can quickly turn tedious and boring. Once an employee loses interest in what they are learning, much of the information being taught will not be retained after the training period. In fact, according to the Association for Talent Development (2015), learners forget 58% of what they just learned within an hour after training ends. This especially holds true with continued training programs that repeat the same information again and again in the hopes of 'drilling it in'. Employees may end up tuning out because they believe they already know what's going to be said, the topic is confusing, or uninteresting. As a result, they may miss any new information that's being added.

3.    Too Much Time in the Classroom

Many training programs spend too much time in the classroom focusing on theory rather than hands-on application and experience.  Once outside the classroom, employees are expected to hit the ground running and begin showing results. Imagine everyone's (yours and theirs) surprise and frustration when they try to apply the knowledge they learned to their day-to-day work and come out shorthanded.  

Related post: Employee Onboarding: So you hired them…what now?

4.    Running Out of Time and Money

Managers are constantly challenged with balancing the benefits of training with the business needs of the company.  This means ensuring that training costs and time away from the desk don't cause productivity levels to suffer or hurt the bottom line.  If not watched carefully, overtraining can quickly increase indirect costs associated with training which may include: participant's wages, the cost of temporarily replacing staff or the cost of productivity lost while they are being trained, the cost of time spent setting up the training, administrative costs, etc.   

Related post: Losing Money on Employee Training? Performance Support to the Rescue

5.    Losing Staff

The immense amount of knowledge employees need to know to succeed in today's workforce is overwhelming and it is important to have a well-planned training program in place.  Better trained employees reduces turnover, but too much training can have them headed out the door.  They may leave because they feel that so much training translates to overly high expectations or just out of sheer boredom. To keep the staff happy there needs to be a balance between workload, training, and life. 

How to Prevent Overtraining Your Employees

And now back to our analogy. To prevent overtraining, an athlete will usually turn to a coach.  The coach is there to make sure they stay motivated, follow a balanced diet for energy and health, and provide pointers to improve performance.  To prevent overtraining employees, companies can turn to Performance Support Systems

The key concept of Performance Support is to provide tools and resources within the work environment so that employees do not have to stop for training every time something is new or changed or forgotten. Its main goals are to:

  • Shorten training time
  • Reduce the need to re-train
  • Lower the overall cost of competence
  • Generate higher performance and productivity levels
  • Reduce performance degradation on the job

Performance support allows employees to learn while they work resulting in improved performance.  It empowers employees and allows them to do their jobs to the fullest of their capabilities, stress-free and without spending countless hours in training sessions.  Learn how leading organizations even feel comfortable eliminating large portions of their training programs knowing that Performance Support is there to guide their employees at the time of need.


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