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How to assess employee training needs

Before selecting training for your staff, it’s crucial to conduct a training needs assessment. Here's a complete guide to conducting a training needs assessment.
Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager
2017-07-13

It’s great that you want to invest time and money into training for your employees – we all know the benefits that professional development brings to both individuals and organizations. But before you go ahead and decide on the best training program for your staff, it’s important to carry out a proper training needs assessment.

This way, you can determine just what kind of training your employees need, to make sure they’re confident and competent in completing the tasks you need them to do.

Unfortunately, when it comes to employee training, “one of the biggest mistakes that companies often make is that they start putting together training plans based on perceived training needs.” When this happens, we see training programs being designed around the leadership team’s perception of staff competencies and skill gaps, rather than their employees’ actual needs. This leads to ineffective learning – and watching your L&D budget go down the drain.

To prevent this from happening, employers and managers need to make sure that all training programs are based on the results of formal training needs assessments. But how exactly do you go about evaluating and assessing employee training needs?

Here, we’ll take a look at the steps you can take to conduct a training needs assessment for your organization.

What Does a Training Needs Assessment Do?

A training needs assessment should always be the first step to any training program if you want it to be a success. An assessment will help ensure that your training investment is properly targeted, to bring the best results to your company and staff.

Put simply, the assessment looks at each staff member and evaluates whether they have the skills and knowledge to do what you need them to do. This means considering the role of each worker and how it contributes to the business goals of the organization, then measuring their current level of competence, skill or knowledge in one or more areas.

When there’s a mismatch between the employee’s skills and the skill level you need them to have, you can then focus on finding the right training to bridge that gap and bring things into line.

How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

Keen to know the right way to conduct a training needs assessment?

The assessment should be a three-tiered process, that moves through the following steps.

Step 1: Organizational Assessment

In this first step, you will outline your company’s goals and objectives. Any training initiatives that are proposed from the results of the assessment must be in sync with these organizational goals and vision.

Step 2: Job-Task Analysis

Next, analyze the specific jobs and tasks that need to be carried out by staff. Be specific. Consider the skills, tools and resources needed. And how the capability of staff can be measured to ensure each task is being done correctly.

You can look at industry standards, time frames and measurements as you assess this. This will help you set more tangible goals as you develop training materials.

Step 3: Individual Assessment

You need to look closely at who is to be trained – on an individual, team and department level. Because “performance gaps may not always be across-the-board, necessitating training for every employee in the organization.”

Looking at performance gaps will help you ascertain whether there are skills lacking in individuals or whole teams. If the problem lies across a whole department, for example, there may be external factors, such as poor leadership or a challenging physical work environment.

Again, this will help you focus and target training initiatives and learning materials. These results will also allow you to personalize training towards individual employees, which is more effective.

Using the Results of Your Training Needs Assessment

Once you’ve carried out the assessment and gathered this feedback, you’ll have a clearer snapshot of the current tasks, skills and capabilities of your workforce. You can then see how you can use this information to create an effective training program that helps you to meet organizational goals and targets.

By using the results of your assessment to develop more focused training, you’re making optimum use of your L&D budget and helping employees to boost their skill sets and professional development.

For more insights, be sure to subscribe to the Go1 newsletter to stay on top of all the latest L&D trends. Or, you can book a demo today to find out how Go1 can help with your team’s learning needs.

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