Learning & Development

What Is Learning Fatigue, and Why Should HR Care?

Although many organizations struggle with giving employees enough opportunities for learning and development, there are problems on the other side of the coin, as well.


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When too many learning options and training activities are being pushed, employees may suffer what’s known as learning fatigue, which is the result of being overwhelmed by the volume of learning, training, upskilling, and related options and requirements.

Ways to Avoid Learning Fatigue While Still Providing Employee Development

Given that employers want to provide employee development, here are some tips to keep development programs positive and avoid veering into learning fatigue:

  • Ensure employee development programs are tailored to the individual.
  • Create appropriate timelines without expecting new skills to develop overnight.
  • Allow employees to explore learning options, but don’t push too many at once.
  • Tailor materials to varying starting points. For example, don’t have all employees start with a “basic” level on a topic; some won’t need it and will quickly be bored. Consider having skills tests for employees to discover the best training starting point for their existing skill level in a given topic.
  • During actual training sessions, give lots of breaks. Consider holding training in areas with ample natural lighting.
  • Take steps to ensure employees don’t feel behind on their work when they attend training. This might mean spreading training out over a longer time frame or finding people to fill in while an employee is away.
  • Remember that there are many learning styles. Ideally, employees will have choices for how they learn new things, which can help them stay more engaged in the training and less likely to quickly feel fatigued or overwhelmed.
  • Find ways to ensure that the training is tied to the big picture. If employees understand how the new materials/processes/tools will help them be more efficient at their jobs, they’re more likely to want to be in the training session. Having a positive attitude up front can help the long-term outcomes of the training and reduce how quickly learning fatigue sets in because they’re more engaged.
  • Ensure that training sessions are done in ways that maintain engagement. If the materials are boring, the literal fatigue sets in sooner, and learning fatigue will be soon to follow.
  • Ensure to set expectations at the outset of any training. When people know what to expect, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed—even when the materials are comprehensive and time-consuming.
  • Get leadership on board with training initiatives. They need to be supportive.
  • Use technology to your advantage to make training simpler and easily accessible. Use it for individual customization whenever possible.

HR is invested in learning fatigue because training often falls squarely on HR’s shoulders. These tips can help HR teams and managers make training more effective and less likely to quickly result in learning fatigue.

What has your experience been? Has your training been met with frustration rather than appreciation? What have you done to combat this in the past?