What is a Training Needs Analysis? (And Why You Need It)
Training needs analysis is a powerful tool.
It’s one of the most important things you can do for your business organization.
And you want your business to succeed, right?
Of course you do.
That’s why you want to make sure your employees receive the best training possible.
And we’re here to show you how to do it.
Let’s dive in.
What is Training Needs Analysis?
Training needs analysis is a process in which an organization determines its employees’ training and development needs to ensure they effectively perform their jobs.
This analysis identifies the skills needed throughout the organization to progress and grow while also pinpointing any knowledge gaps that need to be filled.
Once the organization is aware of its employees' existing skills and the areas in which they are lacking, the organization can begin shaping or updating its employee training program.
Why a Training Needs Analysis is Important
A training needs analysis has the power to transform your organization. It will guide your learning and development priorities, including the following:
1. Clear view of organizational needs
It will help you build a learning and professional development plan based on facts rather than guesswork.
You’ll gain clarity on the specific skills, behaviors, and experiences needed for your organization’s success and identify any learning gaps that may be hindering growth.
2. Avoid training that isn’t relevant
A training needs analysis will give you insight to pinpoint training that is not useful or productive.
You’ll avoid wasting time and money on irrelevant and unnecessary training that’s not helping your employees or organization.
3. Increase ROI
Why would you waste money on ineffective or surplus training?
This analysis will show you exactly where training is needed and where it is not. Therefore, you can increase your ROI by saving money that would have been spent on unnecessary training.
You’ll also have peace of mind knowing you’re investing in the areas of training that will yield the best return.
Key Points of a Training Needs Analysis
When should you complete a training needs analysis?
Since training needs can often change, there are three key points in your organization when it’s best to perform this analysis:
1. Initial training needs analysis
The first step is to determine your organization’s training and development objectives and what skills your employees need to learn from future training.
An initial training needs analysis uncovers the skills and experience your employees currently have while also identifying areas where there are knowledge gaps.
You can prioritize filling a specific performance gap in your training program by creating content for them first and then moving to subjects where less training is needed.
This allows you to create a personalized training program for your learners.
2. Training needs analysis for newbies
Once you’ve created and curated plenty of training content, your employees need to know how to access the specific training they need.
New employees can fill out a training needs analysis questionnaire to reveal their individual needs and help you build personalized learning plans.
If you use a learning management system (LMS), this process can be automated.
3. Training needs analysis for existing learners
Since ongoing training is important for existing employees, performing regular analyses helps determine how effective training is.
You can run a training needs analysis every six or twelve months to find out if the training is, in fact, filling the knowledge gaps initially pinpointed. Frequent analysis also allows you to adapt or change training content on an as-needed basis.
Benefits of Training Needs Analysis
You’ve already read about a few benefits training needs analysis can provide for your business. Here are some additional benefits:
1. Pinpoint knowledge gaps
One of the biggest benefits of a training needs analysis is finding knowledge gaps that will potentially cause problems down the line.
This allows your organization to proactively establish effective training solutions before any issues occur, which saves your organization time, money, and frustration.
2. Plan your training
Once you pinpoint knowledge gaps and determine which employees need what training, it’s easier to plan for your upcoming training program.
You’ll know exactly what skills and competencies to include in your training plan, and you can be confident that your selections will be beneficial.
3. Highlight training needs
You may think you already know what kind of training your employees need, but the needs assessment will highlight particular training needs based on new skills and knowledge gaps you may not have realized you had.
Without this new information, you may not have considered an important area of training that could ultimately hinder your business.
4. Focus on the right training
What about training material that is outdated or no longer relevant?
A training needs analysis will help you focus on the most important areas of training for your organization.
It will also highlight areas where no further training is needed.
5. Pinpoint the right learners
It’s important that the right training reaches the right people. Not everyone in your organization needs to attend every training session.
A training needs analysis lets you match learners with the appropriate training to create more personalized plans.
6. Prioritize training needs
Which skill and knowledge gaps need to be filled first?
A training needs analysis identifies which learning gaps need to be covered immediately and which ones can wait.
Key skills that directly impact the success of the organization should be addressed as soon as possible. Additional training can be prioritized in order of importance and before a lack of training would negatively affect your business.
Types of Training Needs Analysis
These types of training needs analysis can also be thought of as steps. You may want to employ them all or just a few — it depends on your organization’s needs. Choose from the following types of analysis:
1. Analysis of the organization
This analysis looks at what the business is trying to accomplish overall — its strategies, goals, and objectives — and evaluates its needs.
It’s about determining why training is considered a solution to business problems and what the organization’s previous training program offered.
2. Analysis of personnel
A people analysis helps you figure out the needs of an individual learner. You’ll determine which employees need training, their current knowledge level, and their learning styles.
You’ll also learn why specific training is needed, the goals for receiving training, and past experiences with others who’ve undergone similar training.
You can also begin considering subject matter experts (SMEs) and potential instructors for your training program.
3. Analysis of work/tasks
It’s important to complete a work/task analysis before training employees.
This analysis describes the job or task at hand and the required skills and knowledge needed to perform that job or task successfully. You’ll dive into the details of the main job duties and skill levels required to ensure your training program covers all relevant tasks.
You can also start interviewing SMEs, champion employees, supervisors, and managers to learn their perspectives.
4. Analysis of personnel performance
A performance analysis tells you whether your staff is performing up to your organization’s standards or falling short of expectations. You can use this information to identify which training will help close performance gaps.
5. Analysis of training appropriateness
If your business is experiencing problems, better training may or may not be the solution.
Performing a training appropriateness analysis first will help determine if training is the best solution for your organization.
6. Cost-benefit analysis
Training programs cost money to create and deliver to staff members; therefore, organizations want to know their ROI for employee training.
By providing effective training based on needs assessment, organizational goals, job performance, and knowledge gaps, your ROI will likely be greater than the initial investment made to provide the training.
Training Needs Analysis Methods
You can use one or more methods to conduct an analysis, but not every method may be appropriate for your specific business. Select the method(s) that best fits your organizational goals:
Asking employees to complete a detailed questionnaire about their current job role and previous training is an easy way to learn about your organization’s training needs.
Employees can also choose topics they feel are significant to their training needs and then rate their degree of knowledge or skill in different competencies.
Observing employees while they’re working is a great source of information that allows you to evaluate your staff through what you see and hear firsthand.
You’ll gain a clearer understanding of how the job is performed while also identifying strengths to build upon and weaknesses to overcome.
Direct conversations with your staff can give you a better understanding of job performance and deficiencies. You’ll also gain clarity about your employees’ impressions by asking in-depth questions.
Speaking with managers and supervisors is a good place to start.
Take a look at this Interview Guide from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).
4. Check the work
What is the quality of the work being produced?
Reviewing your staff’s work will help determine whether they have the proper skills to perform their roles efficiently or if knowledge gaps need to be filled.
A simple online assessment with multiple-choice questions is a quick way to evaluate your employees’ knowledge and skills.
6. Check out the competition
You need to know where your organization stands within your industry.
A quick investigation into how your competitors are performing can help you determine specific areas where additional training is needed to help your employees perform more competitively.
How to Conduct a Training Needs Analysis
Now that you have the basics down, let’s look at how to conduct a training needs analysis. Here are four steps:
Step 1: Define company learning objectives and outcomes
First, review your mission and values, and determine where your organization is headed. Use this information to set training goals and learning objectives. Your training program needs to stay in line with your organizational goals — even as they evolve.
Second, examine the roles and positions within your organization, and note the required skills and abilities for each, including education levels and industry experience. This will help you decide which skills your staff needs for job performance.
Third, calculate your ROI. Figure out your success metrics and keep them aligned with your goals.
Lastly, determine if you have the right staff. Is there anyone else you need to hire?
Step 2: Assess staff skills and highlight gaps
It’s time to assess your employees’ current skills and abilities to find any knowledge gaps to be filled. You’ll also learn who meets your expectations and who needs further training.
You can use the methods discussed above in the previous section for this training needs assessment.
Step 3: Assess L&D goals and priorities
Now you can start crafting your training program. Remember that your staff has limited time to devote to training, so prioritize knowledge gaps based on your organizational goals and rank the identified gaps based on key indicators.
Next, decide how you will deliver and reinforce the training to ensure your employees learn and implement these skills.
Note: If your organization already has a training program that you’re updating, be sure to evaluate the entire program to see what is still working, what can be changed, and what is no longer needed.
Step 4: Mandatory compliance
Don’t let non-compliance be a downfall for your organization.
Make sure you conduct mandatory compliance training and are up to date with any required licenses or regulations.
You may want to include mandatory training schedules and codes of conduct for all employees or department-specific training needs.
Tips for Training Needs Analysis Success
Now that you know how important training needs analysis is for your organization, we’ve gathered some tips to help you further:
1. Prioritize training
While conducting a training needs analysis, you’ll notice certain departments and groups need more training than others. These specific knowledge gaps may be due to business growth, lack of learner engagement, or changes in products and services.
Prioritize your efforts to cover those individuals and areas that need training the most.
2. Find SMEs
How will you obtain educational content for your learners? One of the most efficient ways to acquire training material is to seek out subject matter experts within your organization.
Finding these SMEs is advantageous because not only do they know their topics inside out, but they also know how each subject relates to your specific business.
3. Delivery tool for training
You’ll need to decide how your training will be delivered and which method provides the best ROI.
Available forms of training include classroom sessions, coaching or mentoring, online training, role-playing, hands-on training, etc.
Your decision will largely depend on your budget and time constraints.
4. Review business roles
When planning your training program, consider the various roles in your organization and how these roles interact with each other.
Many of your daily processes may depend on a chain of different roles working toward the same outcome. If there are links in that chain that are weak, it will affect the others.
5. Training content
It’s essential to find the most effective way to present training content to your staff, so they readily absorb and retain it.
To quickly build content, you may want to use an authoring tool (software that helps create digital content).
6. Think about the big picture
It’s important that you review and define your organization’s goals.
If this information is not clear to you from the start, you risk wasting a lot of time crafting a training program that may end up being irrelevant to your organization’s objectives.
7. Look back on the past
To help shape your current training program, review your organization’s previous training approach. This could help you avoid past mistakes, provide an archive of lessons for reuse, and tell you which ideas worked well in the past.
8. Take a look at the technology
Take time to learn about the latest technology as well as the technology within your organization. You don’t want to spend copious amounts of time creating a training program for an IT system that is due to be replaced.
To get the best ROI on your training content, be aware of the types of technology at your disposal as well as any upcoming changes in processes or procedures.
9. Make it personal
Looking for ways to engage your learners?
One powerful way to do this is by delivering personalized, relevant content.
Show your staff you care and that you took time to identify training materials that are useful, current, and helpful specifically for them.
You Know You Need a Training Needs Analysis
You care about your employees and the success of your business.
You know how crucial an effective employee training program is to an organization.
And you now know the benefits and power of training needs analysis.
Why not use it to select the right training that will give your employees the knowledge and skills they need to thrive?
So go ahead.
Take that first step.
You know you need to.