Jan 11, 2020 in Research

Negative Effects of Over Experienced Employees on Productivity


There are numerous factors that affect productivity including stress, motivation, training and above all, the level of working experience of an employee. Employees acquire their experience as a result of working in a particular field or profession for a certain duration of time. Over experience is whereby the worker is too familiar with a particular job to an extent that he is deemed overqualified.  The level of mismatch between a worker’s level of experience and the requirements of their jobs is a popular phenomenon in especially OECD countries. Statistics shows that out of a group of four workers, one might be over experienced. However, that figure varies depending on particular state and diverse socio-demographic groups. Therefore, over experience seems to be a vital issue for many organizations hence raising the need for its study. This paper shall discuss the negative effects of over experience on productivity.



The results of numerous investigations on the negative effects of over experience on an organization’s productivity reveal diverging views. Some researchers depend on the human capital theory to explain the relationship between over experience and productivity. The proponents of that theory draw conclusions concerning the impact of over-qualification on a company’s productivity by examining their effects on wages. Accordingly the more experience an individual has in a particular task; the more one is likely to demand higher wages or keep agitating for higher wages. This is a result of the mismatch occasioned by the level employers are willing to offer for certain jobs. Scholars also rely on another theory that attempts to explain the existence of the relationship by identifying the impact of over-qualification on an employee’s job satisfaction and other factors affecting a worker’s productivity. According to this theory, the more over qualified an employee is, the higher the likelihood that he will attain job satisfaction.

Although those two tendencies of research resemble each other to a certain extent, they result in diverse outcomes. The human capital theory frequently reveals that workers with many years of experience are likely to increase a firm’s level of productivity as opposed to inexperienced and hence under qualified employees, who are performing similar tasks. On the other hand, the subsequent theory does not give a precise prediction of the most probable outcomes. Nevertheless, both theories have certain limitations. For instance, the human capital theory assumes that it is possible to transpose the impact of a person’s experience on the level of productivity which is not always the case.  Similarly, the second theory that relies on job satisfaction is insufficient because evidence shows that that factor merely affects an employee’s job performance by 30%. That means that there are possibly other factors that affect the productivity of over experienced workers significantly besides job satisfaction.

Negative Effects of Experience on Productivity

As earlier mentioned, job satisfaction is one of the most fundamental aspects that might affect an employee’s productivity. Studies reveal that the level of job dissatisfaction among over experience workers is high since they are forced to perform tasks that are below their real levels of expertise. Consequently, that might reduce the levels of motivation among experienced workers and hence affect the quality of work done by the employee. The ultimate result is that the firm’s productivity decreases drastically. Such cases normally arise when individuals who are looking for jobs lack an understanding of what the job they are applying for entails due to their over optimistic nature. For example, some people usually think that they will be expected to perform administrative functions while the employer is only in need of an employee who can work at the reception. In such an instance, the employee likely to exhibit dissatisfaction with the job and this may result in underperformance.

Over experience also has a significant impact on an employee’s ability to adapt to the constantly changing technological environment. Employees with a lot of experience working in a particular environment may find it difficult to use new technological advancements and innovations. That is because most of them are used to routines and adapting to a new working environment is very difficult because of their rigidity. In such instances, the firm’s productivity is likely to decrease when a firm decides to introduce the use of new technology in their production. As such in a working environment the most experienced employees are more likely to show resistance to change compared to the less experienced individuals.   

Over experienced employees are also likely to affect the entity’s staff turnover ratio. An individual who considers himself overqualified for a particular task is less likely to get satisfaction from the current job. Such an employee is always on the lookout for a job that will match his level of skills. Most jobs seek workers with experience and as such they are more likely to get an opportunity more easily. This will have a direct impact on the company’s staff turnover rate and consequently the work productivity. Where they hold key positions in the organizations production may be halted as the company seeks out a new person to fill in their post.

The over experienced individuals may also have a negative impact on the other workers in the organization particularly those who are not as skilled. According to the human capital theory, they are likely to agitate for more wages as oppose to the less experienced individuals. In an organization where certain workers begin demanding higher wages, all the other workers join them in agitating. In as much they may be justified in their quest for higher wages owing to their experience, they may create a negative mood in the working environment whereby the other workers may also feel entitled to higher wages. Consequently, the productivity of all the workers in the organization is likely to decrease since all of them may be unsatisfied with their level of pay. The overall productivity is likely to diminish as they agitate for better wages. 

As stated in one of the theories, over qualification has an impact on the job satisfaction of a worker. Job satisfaction in turn affects the happiness of the individual concerned. Therefore the more satisfied an individual is, the more likely they will be happy at work compared to an employee who is less satisfied. Studies reveal that an employee who is unhappy with their work cares less about their employers or jobs and are unlikely to show up at work consistently. This results in less productivity and the quality of their work consequently suffers. Such a position contrasts with where the employee is happy with their work. The will exhibit enhanced enthusiasm towards their jobs and hence improved productivity.


The above discussion outlines the relationship between over experience and productivity. Two theories explain the negative effect that over experience has on the productivity of a worker. These theories include the capital theory and job satisfaction theory. Workers, who have a lot of experience, and by extension more qualified, are likely to feel frustrated by doing a less satisfying job. Doing a less satisfying job may reduce an individual’s motivation, make them resistant to change, impact the organizations turnover ratio adversely, influence the other workers negatively and reduce their happiness while at work.


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