Workplace training

11 minute read

Training Needs Analysis: What It Is & How to Do It Right

Sara Meij

Sara Meij

You might be at the start of creating a fit-for-purpose learning and development strategy for your organization, or maybe you have already implemented one. Either way, identifying the performance gaps within your business helps in creating a learning plan for your employees that they will actually benefit from. 

If you already have a strategy in place, perhaps the mix of learning you’re offering your staff fits the bill for now. But there might be performance issues you don’t know about, that your staff is dealing with on a daily basis, which hinders their productivity. 

Training needs analysis helps to pinpoint which areas need addressing within your organization. It can also help to identify which employees need training and what kind of training is best suited. 

Not only does this allow you to spend your training budget more efficiently, but it also avoids being counter-productive in offering training to employees who don’t need it, or worse, to offer them the wrong kind of training.

woman taking training needs analysis test at computer

What is training needs analysis?

Training needs analysis is a business process to determine all the training staff need in a set amount of time to improve employee job performance, including progress and growth.

A training needs analysis reviews the state of your organization’s training and development and helps to pinpoint knowledge gaps that need to be filled so that you can set priorities and create a fit-for-purpose learning and development strategy.

Why is it important?

Training needs analysis helps you to get your organization’s learning and development priorities in order. The importance of training needs analysis is often overlooked in developing a training plan for staff. Three of the main benefits are:

  • It will give you a clear view of what skills and experience your organization needs to get ahead, and which of those are missing at the moment, hindering future growth. It allows you to create a learning and development plan based on facts, not assumptions.
  • Another benefit of creating a plan based on facts is that you avoid wasting time on training that isn’t relevant to your staff and isn’t helping your organization to grow and progress. Providing training where it’s needed will allow you to save time and boost employee engagement.
  • Wasting budget on ineffective or surplus training is one of the biggest money pits an organization can have. When you know exactly where training is needed within your organization, you increase your ROI (return on investment), saving money that would have otherwise been spent on ineffective training.

colleagues discussing training options

Training needs analysis flow

Training needs analysis will come in handy at three different times during your staff’s employment with your organization:

1. Initial training needs analysis

The very first step is figuring out what your organization’s objectives are with training and development, and what your employees want and need to take away from any future training. By running training needs analysis at this stage, you’d get a good picture of what skills and experience your employees have now, and in what areas they might need more training to fill any knowledge gaps.

2. Training needs analysis - new employees

Once you have a great learning and development strategy in place, and you’ve created and collected an abundance of training content, it’s crucial you make sure your employees know how to find it, and what training might suit them. Inefficient training does not help employee engagement and it doesn’t make the onboarding process for new employees a breeze either. You can use a training needs analysis at this point in time to ask new employees a few questions to pinpoint individual learner needs and to build a personalized learning plan for each of them. 

3. Training needs analysis - existing employees

Ongoing training and development are just as important for existing employees as it is for new staff. You can get on top of ongoing progress and development by for instance running a training needs analysis every six or 12 months to see if the training your employees are receiving is effective in filling the skills and knowledge gaps initially pinpointed. By doing these analyses frequently, you can adapt training needs and keep professional growth on an upward trajectory.  

With GoSkills online training, you can assign the course skills test to existing staff as well as new hires to see what gaps there are in knowledge prior to taking the course. The course syllabus is then tailored to focus on these areas specifically, with lessons sorted by strengths and weak areas. Managers can then monitor the progress of individual staff through the LMS.

Different types of training needs analysis

Depending on what you need to assess within your organization, there are different types of training needs analysis to consider for a broad range of situations:

Organizational analysis

What is the organization trying to accomplish overall is the main question asked with this type of analysis, which looks at strategies, goals, and objectives within the business and assesses the business needs. It’s about figuring out the “why” behind the need for training; who decided it was a good idea? Why is training seen as the solution to a business problem and what previous training has the organization offered its staff?

Person analysis

A person analysis determines which staff will be receiving training and what their knowledge level is on the task at hand, their learning style and who or what program will conduct training. It will also show why training is needed; because new software is being introduced for instance or policies and procedures have changed and staff needs to be updated on the new workings.

woman working on computer

Work/task analysis

This type of training needs analysis determines what skills and knowledge are needed to perform and complete a specific task. It’s important to know this before you get your employees to do training, to make sure that the training has enough overlaps with actual tasks they would need to do. 

Performance analysis

A performance analysis figures out if employees are performing up to standard or if it’s below expectations and if so if training can help close the performance gap.

Training suitability analysis

Before you head off and get cracking on a great learning and development strategy, it’d be good to know whether training is actually the best solution for your business problem or performance gap. Training is one of the solutions, but not always the most efficient one.

Cost-benefit analysis

Any organization would like to know what their ROI (return on investment) of training its employees is. Providing effective training to your staff, based on assessments of the business problem, future organizational goals, staff performance, and skill gaps, will be more effective. Effective training in return results in an ROI which is greater than the financial and resource investment made initially to provide the training.

How to do a training needs analysis

Now that you know what training needs analysis is and why it’s important, let’s have a look at how to do one. These are the initial three levels of training needs analysis:

1. Decide on key skill sets and learning objectives/outcomes

It’s crucial the organization has clearly defined learning objectives and goals first and then decides on the skill sets necessary to reach the required outcomes.

2. Evaluate the skills of staff and highlight the skills gap

Once you’ve determined the skill set needed to reach the agreed-upon learning objectives and goals, you’ll have to evaluate the skills of your employees to see where, if any, there are gaps in knowledge and skill that need to be addressed. You can find those gaps by doing elearning assessments, through observations and by conducting surveys and evaluations. 

3. Evaluate current L&D initiatives and priorities

Your employees don’t have unlimited hours in their workweek they can spend on training and development, so it’s important to prioritize determined knowledge gaps based on the organizational goals you’ve set. Get together with key learning and development people within your organization and rank the pinpointed gaps based on customer satisfaction ratings, company profits or other key indicators. 

Once you’ve gone through those three steps, it’s important to evaluate your current learning and development resources to see if they fit your new objectives and learning outcomes. There are many ways to train your team in the workplace, and there are plenty of ideas out there on how to include online learning and elearning into your L&D strategy.

man taking training needs analysis assessment

The benefits of training needs analysis

If you’ve come this far, you’re probably already aware of some of the benefits that doing a training needs analysis has to your business. Here are a few:

It allows you to identify knowledge gaps before they become a problem

This rings true across your organization, not just in the space of learning and development, but it’s better to know about potential problems and knowledge gaps before they become an issue. 

It helps your organization plan the training for the year

A training needs analysis takes the guessing work out of your training and development. You know what skill and knowledge gaps you need to fill within your organization. It makes it easier to create a plan when you know what training is needed and who needs it.

It highlights training you may have not considered

Instead of trying to cater to all or implement all new (or existing) training methods into your training schedule, a training needs analysis will show you what training might be useful based on what skill and knowledge gaps arise. 

It shows who should attend which training sessions

Neither your organization nor your employees have unlimited time to attend training and development opportunities, so a personalized training plan will allow you to spend your L&D budget wisely, and create the most benefits for your employees.

It helps prioritize training needs

Training needs analysis helps pinpoint which skill and knowledge gaps need to be filled as soon as possible, and which ones can wait. That’ll help in prioritizing training for your employees. 

Wrap up

Are you ready to accelerate your learning and development based on what skill and knowledge gaps need filling within your organization? GoSkills' award-winning training platform can help you identify the skill level of your employees and make learning enjoyable with engaging, bite-sized courses. Try it for free today!

Sara Meij

Sara Meij

Sara is a digital communications expert and former journalist with a passion for writing. In her spare time she loves Latin dancing and getting outdoors to run, hike or mountain bike.

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