Training is key—but which training is crucial?
In the UK, L&D funds are already stretched thin as organisations work with small budgets and high training costs. That’s why conducting a training needs analysis—a process that helps L&D leaders assess current performance and business goals to determine which training is most necessary—is so important. Miss this critical step, and you could end up wasting money on programmes your learners don’t need while overlooking the ones they do need.
A training needs analysis will help you identify programmes that are relevant and beneficial for your employees’ day-to-day work, so you’re making the most of your budget. Ready to get started? We’ll provide a breakdown of how to conduct a training needs analysis in six easy steps. You'll also hear more about our unique bottom-up spin on the process–plus you can check out our free training needs analysis template!
Ideally, your training empowers employees to contribute to your high-level business objectives. Identifying your business needs will help you prioritise training that fetches the biggest return on investment.
But according to the UK-based Learning & Skills at Work survey, many organisations are struggling to provide learning solutions that directly support business outcomes. The survey revealed that succession planning and people management are among the top three business priorities for many organisations, but few are identifying the training needs that fulfil those priorities. Only 4% identify the need to reskill employees, and just 8% plan to focus on developing soft skills.
Reflect on your business goals to gauge what your training should emphasise. Say leadership has set an annual goal of increasing customer retention by 10%. After reviewing customer exit surveys, your organisation’s executives determine that many people seem unhappy with your support. Based on this goal and input, you determine that building training for customer support reps would significantly contribute to increasing retention.
Once you have clearly defined business objectives, set your eyes on improving skill sets that will drive these goals forward.
You know which employee groups will need training to contribute to your company goals. From here, zoom out and review team members’ job requirements. This refresher will give you a solid benchmark to determine knowledge gaps in later steps.
However, tracking down job descriptions to find these requirements can be challenging. You might spend hours manually trawling job boards or sitting down with your Human Resources team. To speed up the process, use a tool like CompetencyCore for pre-built competency profiles or to build custom ones. You plug in a job title and pick from an AI-powered list of behavioural and technical competencies. So for the customer retention goal, you would look up required skills for support professionals — like listening abilities, problem-solving, empathy.
An overview of company roles, along with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for each, helps you get a broad sense of prospective training areas. But it isn’t as straightforward as pulling out your org chart and listing job descriptions. Keep in mind that some of the listed competencies may be outdated. Conduct industry research and check out recent job postings from other companies to gauge whether your requirements are still relevant.
Next up — compare your desired requirements for a role with reality. How are team members actually performing?
Only a third of L&D professionals in the UK say they actively identify skills and performance gaps before recommending a solution. But dishing out training without identifying performance issues is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole — the training probably won’t be relevant or useful, and the performance gap will continue to persist. We suggest using a combination of these sources to identify skills gaps in your employees.
Examine individual team members’ performance reports for the department you are hoping to train for. A support team may have a graph that shows the average resolution time for each agent, while a sales team reports on the number of closed deals for each rep.
Compare the data to the job requirements for that role. Are employees successfully executing the tasks? If not, speak with the department head about what skills might help improve these performance areas.
Send surveys to employees to ask about what areas of their job they feel confident in and where they feel they need training. For example, your survey questions could provide a 1-5 scale for each skill and ask them about the level of expertise they believe they have. Make room for open-ended questions, so employees can list ideas for training in areas you may not have thought of.
Taking the time to talk to each employee is the best way to find out about their unmet training needs. But imagine walking around (or scheduling Zoom hours) to ask each employee what training they need to do their best work.
Fortunately, there’s an easier way with a Learning Needs tool.
Our Learning Needs Tool is a collaborative resource for identifying training gaps. The tool regularly prompts employees to request new Learning Needs and provide input. Employees can also upvote Learning Needs that their co-workers share, so you know which training programmes are worth pursuing.
Once you have the performance gaps laid out in front of you, it’s time to choose which ones need to be addressed. There are a number of operational factors to consider, such as:
Next, it’s time to move from planning and priorities to taking action.
The next step is to create your training roadmap based on the skills gaps you identified earlier. Make training recommendations to stakeholders so that they understand what will be taught and why the education will be useful.
However, recommendations are only the beginning of your training process — you’ll also need to build the courses! Rather than standalone programmes, create a Collaborative Learning journey that includes social learning features — such as an authoring tool, peer feedback and discussion forums.
As your business needs evolve and technologies are updated, your training, too, will need a facelift from time to time. Make room for iterations as and when they arise with the help of a collaborative platform like 360Learning.
When training is done and dusted, it’s time for a report card. Gauge how well your training programmes performed with a formal review process.
There are many ways to gauge this impact, but a good place to start is returning to the business goals you identified in the first step. Did your company move closer to the objective in the months after the training was implemented? With our earlier customer support example, you would check whether retention increased by 10%.
Keep in mind that company goals are multifactorial, so it’s unlikely that your training is solely responsible for hitting (or not meeting) your objectives. Consider other areas of your business that the training might have impacted to get a more holistic view of its effectiveness.
Build on this training analysis with 360Learning’s bottom-up approach. It puts employees in the driver’s seat, letting them declare training needs instead of being mute recipients. This system motivates learners, keeps training relevant, and utilises institutional knowledge — saving time and money in the process. Download our free training needs analysis template to uncover how to get started with a bottom-up approach.