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Last Updated on January 22, 2021

If you are thinking about providing training for your employees, then how do you go about deciding what training would be the most effective, productive and useful? Well, this is where Training Needs Analysis can be so useful and so below I’ll explain how you can use this technique the right way!

What is training needs analysis?

What Is Training Needs Analysis?

Training needs analysis is the process of evaluating and deciding what training would be most beneficial for your employees to undertake, to fill in gaps in knowledge.

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono (Symonds)

So in essence, it is about having a strategy to work out the most effective, beneficial and productive training that you can provide staff and employees in your workplace, to fill gaps in knowledge.

The benefits of filling these gaps with training include to:

  • Help staff work better as teams
  • Improve productivity in the workplace
  • Provide staff with skills that aid their own career development
  • Improve the overall working environment and vibe for all staff, creating a better workplace

Having a well-trained workforce who feel motivated and who have the chance for their own CPD (Continuing Professional Development) is a great way to move your company forward.

Why We Need Training Skills Analysis

Choosing the right training is essential for two key reasons:

1. Training has a cost, both in terms of time and finances. So, choosing the right training is vital for minimising costs and maximising efficiency.

2. Get the training right and your workplace can flourish with happier and more skilled employees and the costs of training will, in essence, pay for themselves.

Training Needs Analysis Models, Stages and Process

We suggest a 5-step approach to really getting to understand what training you are best off providing employees. These stages are as follows:

Stage 1 – Detailing the Organisation Status and Future Goals

The first stage we recommend is to detail briefly, on the analysis report, the key goals of the business and where the business is right now.

In other words, we are looking here to identify any obvious training needs that will undoubtedly be needed to take the business in the direction that it aspires to go towards.

Stage 2 – Legislative Analysis

This stage involves considering any training that will clearly be required by law and needed within the business.

If staff must undertake certain training to do their jobs correctly, then this training is clearly going to have to be included and given very high-priority in the training needs.

Stage 3 – Evaluating Existing Skills Gaps & Budgets

Understanding what skills sets already exist in the company and where the key gaps in knowledge are, is an essential part of assessing planning needs.

Many training planners will miss this stage but it is essential if you want to optimise the money you spend on training.

Stage 4 – Factoring in Responsible Management

As a responsible manager or business owner, there are some training titles that will not necessarily directly improve productivity but they are areas of training that can be deemed ethical to provide your staff.

Some training that might not be considered essential in a productivity sense.

Nonetheless, in a responsible business, there can be a strong argument made for staff to have training in topics such as Mental Health in the Workplace, Digital Wellness, Mindfulness in the Workplace or Inclusive Leadership.

Stage 5 – Detailing the Training Plan, Targets and ROI

ROI (Return on Investment) will need to be considered in this stage given that, as a training manager or decision-maker, you will often have to substantiate to higher management the need for certain training and how it adds value.

Online teaching guide PDF

Training Needs Analysis Models

1. New Staff

Onboarding staff is an ESSENTIAL process!

In a research study, we recently did at Symonds Training & Research as part of an academic paper, we found a 45% greater staff retention rate of new hires, where onboarding is a key part of the strategy for welcoming new hires.

Dr Valeria Lo Iacono (Symonds)

Training for new staff will inevitably make up a part of your final training strategy and plan.

The training needs analysis findings should, without question, include consideration for these new and future employees in addition to existing employees.

2. Existing Staff

For existing staff, you will want to evaluate:

  • What skills they already have
  • What skills could benefit them in their specific role
  • What training they would like for their own development (if it were available)

3. Managers and Team-Leaders

Managers tend to get a certain job position for one of two reasons. They either:

  • were brought into the role from another company
  • or they were promoted from within the company

Both types of manager may need certain training.

In the case of someone coming into the company as a new hire, onboarding can be an essential need so that they learn the company culture, ethics and have an opportunity to grow into their role in a productive and positive manner.

For managers who have risen through the ranks of a company, they normally have a good understanding of the company culture, but then oftentimes they lack key management skills and experience.

So, based on these differences, you can see that training that managers need can vary according to how the role was acquired.

This example above, is exactly why it is essential to make sure that you provide the right kind of training for the right employee.

Techniques for Gathering Information for TNA (Training Needs Analysis)

There is not one technique for gathering information to develop a TNA plan. You should consider including the following:

1. Observation

Certain training needs can become very obvious through observation. Certain staff might struggle with certain activities and including these observations is a simple one-step to creating a training needs plan.

Employee observation to analyse for skills gaps

2. Staff Feedback

Feedback such as during individual annual staff appraisals can be a fantastic way to evaluate the needs of individual employees.

Emailing all staff (including managers) an open-ended questions questionnaire on their training needs, skills, training ideas etc. can also be an easy way to get staff input.

3. Factoring in Company Goals, Targets and Mission Statement

By reading and analysing company targets, the mission statement and goals, you may or may not see a gap in which is currently being achieved and where you as a company want to be.

Use this research and factor this into the training needs plan.

4. External Assessor

Personally, I would be hesitant to use an external assessor but many companies do find great value in this.

External business analysts can be expensive and often themselves fall short in terms of what they provide, given that it can take them time to really understand your own business.

Having said that, they do bring experience, an external set of eyes and thought process into the training needs analysis.

5. Using a Skills Matrix

What I have found very useful in the past and that I recommend is to use a Skills Matrix for trying to understand where you stand in terms of skills and knowledge within your work teams.

Meeting Training and Learning Needs

Once you have created a solid training needs plan and hence understanding of what skills needs to be provided to employees (including management and new hires), there are a number of ways to provide this training.

1. In-house Training

A simple enough way to provide training in-house and to all employees is to develop your own courses.

To do this, you can quite easily buy pre-designed and customizable training course materials that you can then use to shape your own training.

Classroom lesson plans

You may have your own trainers in-house who can provide the training or you can hire in an external trainer to provide the training.

This can be a cost-effective way to provide skills training to staff, given that it will reduce lost time if staff have to travel to attend external training.

As a part of in-house training, you can choose also to use elearning training as a part of this strategy.

2. External Training

As touched on above, external training can be costly time-wise and it also tends to be a more expensive solution versus in-house training.

External training often means that you will need to help cover the costs of the training venue through to the cost of the external training.

You might though want to bring in an external and skilled trainer to provide your in-house training.

3. Conferences and Events

For filling gaps in knowledge and for making sure that staff they are up to date on what’s going on the industry, conferences, workshops and other events can be an excellent option.

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Dr Valeria (Lo Iacono) Symonds

Valeria has been involved with education for over 16 years. She has taught in the UK at the University of Bath and Cardiff Metropolitan University (where she got her PhD), in addition to working as a researcher at Exeter University. Valeria additionally has several years of experience of also working with Ofsted and Cardiff University in management roles & is she is the founder of Symonds Training.

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