Recently, many companies have been investing heavily in employee training programs. But some have skipped an important step: the training needs analysis. To achieve results, you need to know where to focus your efforts, and the plan has little chance of success without this preliminary analysis.
Here we explain how to identify the company’s needs and focus employee training in the best way.
The importance of identifying training needs
Companies are in a constant state of change, be it technological, organisational, or even to do with the business model itself. Some changes can affect an organisation’s human capital and modify the way they work, their responsibilities and tools. This means that an employee who had been perfect for a role, may not be further down the line, unless appropriate steps are taken.
In these cases, training can play a vital role in equipping the workforce with skills and knowledge. If we can identify training needs promptly and create tailored programs, we can:
- Achieve the company’s goals.
- Maintain a flexible, versatile, and effective team.
- Avoid dismissals by investing in internal talent.
The benefits of employee training and development
Identifying and analysing training needs is not just a necessary response to our ever-changing context; it is also immensely beneficial to the company and its employees.
The benefits for employers
It benefits the company by:
- Increasing productivity and quality.
- Improving the working environment and interpersonal relationships.
- Boosting staff motivation and engagement.
- Making it easier to adapt to market changes.
- Fulfilling the organisation’s needs and the goals it is working towards.
The benefits for employees
For employees, on the other hand, training:
- Satisfies their professional needs and ambitions.
- Enables them to develop their technical skills and knowledge.
- Makes it easier to adapt to changes introduced by the company in terms of tools, processes, etc.
- Boosts personal motivation.
- Helps them reach individual goals.
Types of training needs
A company’s training needs can be varied, just like the types of training available for employees:
Technical or technological training
Some jobs require specific technical skills. Technical training, therefore, aims to teach the employee the practical element of their work. This is usually related to the use of IT programs, tools, and machinery, etc.
It’s important that the company ensures all employees know how to use tools effectively to achieve the best results, and avoid, in some cases, accidents at work.
Product quality training
In product manufacturing businesses, quality training is crucial. It makes employees aware of the measures and requirements that are in place to prevent, identify and eliminate sub-standard units.
Product quality is often what differentiates us from the competition, and this type of training gives employees the knowledge they need to uphold the company’s quality standards.
Skills training is another type of training need. In this case, the aim is to develop or improve the abilities required to carry out a certain job. For example, an administrator might receive training on how to answer the phone using a specific tone and greeting in line with the brand image.
Soft skills training
Soft skills relate to individual personality traits, such as communication or the ability to work in a team. In some jobs, especially in public-facing roles, these are fundamental, so we might train employees to be friendlier with customers and make them feel at home.
In general, however, companies in all sectors are attaching more importance to their employees’ soft skills. Many problems arise due to a lack of interpersonal skills among staff, so there are clear benefits to addressing these areas.
Teamwork and cohesion among staff must not be forgotten. Training in this area can enable better decision making, problem solving and development skills, in order to deliver better commercial results. This also motivates the team and makes for a much more enjoyable day-to-day working environment.
5 steps to identify training needs
So how do you go about identifying your company’s training needs? Here is our step-by-step guide.
The first step of the needs assessment is to establish a performance standard target or define the results we want to achieve. The aim is to identify the ideal way in which employees should be carrying out their work. This then provides a benchmark to compare to current standards and identify requirements.
2. Investigation and analysis
A fundamental step in the company’s training needs analysis is to evaluate which areas of knowledge and skills require improvement and determine an employee’s current level.
This takes several different forms:
- Observation and comparison of the employee’s performance versus expectations.
- Individual interviews to gather information directly from employees and their line managers.
- Surveys to assess a person's knowledge or skills.
- Simulations to test an employee’s technical abilities.
One of the most useful tools throughout the analysis process is performance review software, which evaluates the results for each employee and, in turn, identifies areas for improvement. In this way, we can also take full control and analyse how the training is helping them to achieve the desired results.
3. Field research
Once we know what the areas for improvement are for each employee, the next step is to ascertain exactly what they are doing wrong, the obstacles they are facing and how the company can help them.
Normally, it is a knowledge or skills gap that stops an employee from carrying out a task correctly. However, we need to analyse the causes closely to design a tailored solution.
It’s important to organise training needs for a person or department in order of priority. There will always be something that requires improvement, but we have limited resources and time to dedicate to training. Therefore, prioritising correctly and paying attention to the goals is key.
At this point it is important to reflect on the company’s strategy and its medium-term business goals. This means identifying the skills and knowledge required to achieve them and prioritising these above the rest.
For example, if you want to attract more potential clients via the sales team, you may need to ensure that they have the information and skills required to do that. You could provide training, for example, on email or telephone sales techniques.
5. Types of training
The next and final step would be to choose the appropriate type of training:
- cost, etc.
Ultimately, to design and shape the organisation’s training plan to achieve the desired objectives.