Does Your Training Give Your Team Information Overload?

Lo Kidd

February 16, 2021

For lots of companies, employee training means getting through content as quickly as possible. Even if it means information overload. And if your only goal is speed, this strategy makes sense. But if you want a highly productive team, rushing through onboarding doesn’t work. 

Instead, you’ll just leave your team feeling confused, frustrated, and not super confident. And this can lead to unnecessary stress and mistakes that will negatively impact your business well into the future. 

So, let’s level set really fast. Your company training doesn’t have to go this way! By slowing down the process, you can avoid information overload, make your training more effective, and keep everyone on the same wavelength.  

 Here’s how:

Why is information overload such a big deal? 

Just like it sounds, information overload is when you give someone too much new knowledge at one time (sometimes referred to as “info-dumping”). So, instead of being helpful, all this information becomes overwhelming. And it doesn’t stick. 

How information overload feels

Meaning, if you present all of your training content on Day 1, you’ll end up going over it again and again. And the training that you tried to race through will end up taking much longer. 

Think of the “info-dumping” approach as trying to get 3 weeks’ worth of clothes into a carry-on bag. No matter how hard you try, not all of the clothes will fit at one time. 

And while you might be able to technically close the suitcase, odds are it will break during your travels. Meaning, your clothes will be everywhere. And there’s a good chance you’ll lose a few things.

Similarly, if you teach the average person something right now, they’ll forget roughly 50% of what they learned within an hour. And more than 70% within 24 hours. But if you overload them with information, they forget even more in this time frame.

4 tricks for avoiding information overload

But luckily, there are a few easy tricks to keep information overload out of your training program. Here are the ones we love:

1. Present content in bite-size bits

Before you start getting people up to speed, you need to sort through all your training content and decide what knowledge is necessary when. Then, make a day-by-day game plan from the start of training all the way through the end. Just be sure to outline what exactly they need to go through on which day. 

🔥 Tip: Use Trainual’s Time Estimate feature to make sure you’re only handing out about 2 hours of content max. Then, assign the content out with Due Dates. That way, people know when to go through what – and actually get it done. Try for free.

For example, when onboarding, employees aren’t going to need every need-to-know on Day 1. So, we spend the first week training new hires on what we do. Our founding story, our mission, and our company-wide policies included. 

Admittedly, this isn’t a whole week’s worth of content. So, we spend the rest of the time introducing our new additions to the team. That way, they get a break to absorb the information – without wasting any time.

Then, for weeks 2 and 3, we dive into the how-tos. Meaning, this is when employees learn the processes, policies, and procedures related to their specific roles. And they start to hop into department syncs and meetings so they can start getting the cadence of everything down. 

By making information available at the right time, there’s less space for confusion or overwhelm. Meaning, a lot more gets absorbed on the first go!

2. When it comes to information, less is more

I’m not saying skimp on the training content (in fact, don’t!). Just make sure that what you assign out gets your trainees the information they actually need. And presents it more engagingly

For example, we’re big fans of building content that uses several methods – like video, text, and interactive quizzes. Because it’s proven to make your training stickier! 

🔥 Tip: Quick Embeds makes adding gifs, screenshots, .pdfs, and videos to your training content as easy as dropping a link (literally). Try for free

But we’re also the first to admit that there’s a fine line between helpful and distracting. Like you don’t need a quiz after every single slide or a gif of a cat “just because.”

So, if you’re embedding a video, .pdf, or whatever, make sure it adds value. Meaning, anything you add makes the topic clearer or more memorable. If not, get rid of it!  

The same goes for content in general. If you aren’t sure if or when the knowledge will be put to use, it’s got to go.

(Or, make it an optional lunch and learn. That way, the opportunity for further learning is there – but you’re not cramming in more for the sake of!)

3. Make training more enjoyable 

A lot of the time, making your training content engaging is the same as making it enjoyable. Think more Blue Planet – and less high school biology.

No really - training can be fun and engaging!

But part of making it enjoyable is also making your training more empathetic. For example, if you’re hosting a more hands-on program, set aside time to eat, stand up and stretch, or go to the bathroom. 

A lot of the time, people won’t ask for what they need. Especially if it feels disruptive. When this happens, they’re way more focused on what they need than what you have to say (or the content being taught). 

So, schedule breaks into the agenda! As a general rule, you want to throw a 15-minute breather in about every 90 minutes. And this goes double if the training or onboarding is happening remotely. 

🔥 Tip: As you get back from a break, let people know when the next one happens! This will make them more excited to participate and help alleviate that feeling of the day dragging.

Plus, with the extra wiggle room in the schedule, your employees will actually have time to absorb what they learned. So on top of making training a lot less exhausting, it also helps them learn more. 

4. Let people learn at their own speed

While some content is super helpful when it’s taught hands-on, a lot of training is more effective (and much more cost-effective) without a manager breaking down the concepts. Instead, let your team take control of their training by going through it on their own. 

In a group setting, the manager leading the training program will always go too fast for some people and too slow for others. And no matter how hard you try, you’re going to lose a few folks. Whether it be to confusion, boredom, or both. 

But by sending your team through Trainual, the trainee only moves onto the next topic when they fully understand the current one. Meaning, your trainee can go through the content as fast or as slow as they need. 

Plus, if they aren’t sure if they understood something, they can simply go back for a refresher. This allows your team to draw deeper connections throughout the training – making it a lot harder to forget! 

And whenever they feel overwhelmed, they can (and actually will – even if it’s not scheduled) take a break. Meaning, your trainee stops well before blowing past their limits.

As a result, they never hit the point of information overload. So, once your trainees are through training, that’s it! They’re actually up to speed. No need to retrain unless a policy, process, or procedures changes.

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