Why You Need To Run A Training Needs Assessment (And How To Do It)

Why You Need To Run A Training Needs Assessment (And How To Do It)
iStock.com/Worawee Meepian
Summary: What is a Training Needs Assessment if not a tool that saves you time, money, and the respect of top management? Could it also be your ticket to more successful training, engaged staff, and a well-allocated training budget? Well, you’re about to find out.

6 Reasons You Need A Training Needs Assessment

Imagine for just a moment that the financial year is coming to a close, and you’ve still got training and development budget left to spend. How do you decide which people or teams should receive training, and what kind of training they should receive? Is it a flip of a coin? A toss of the dice?

You might have considered this spontaneous approach, but you’d never actually do it, right? Because you know that training isn’t a chance event. Rather, it’s a business expense that needs to pay off. And this means that the who, when and how of training should be strategic. Your secret weapon to strategic training decisions? A Training Needs Assessment.

Here are some of the top reasons you should be identifying training needs in your company:

1. Train The Right Employees, With The Right Approach

One of the outputs of the Training Needs Analysis process is a list of who needs what kind of training. For example, you might find that the IT team is falling behind industry standards and needs a course in the latest tech innovations. Or maybe the IT intern is coming on full-time and requires mentoring to become a productive part of the team.

Why is all this important? Because tailoring courses (and their delivery) to each team or employee in your company is essential for training effectiveness. After all, the more relevant the content is to the employee, the more likely they are to engage in learning, and the more successful your training will be.

2. Prioritize Training Needs With The Highest Business Impact

A Training Needs Assessment identifies the specific knowledge and skills that employees need to become more productive, efficient and innovative in their jobs. And by performing better in their jobs, employees help the company achieve its strategic goals.

This makes the needs analysis a powerful tool in the face of limited time or budget. Because by spotting the skill gaps that are affecting the company’s bottom line, you can prioritize training for the biggest business impact.

3. Identify Tools And Methods You Never Considered Before

One of the steps in a Training Needs Assessment involves surveys, observations and other forms of evaluation to identify learning obstacles. Of course, this tells the company who needs more of the old training. But it can also reveal new training approaches that hadn’t been considered before.

For example, let’s imagine that a survey reveals that classroom-based workshops take too much time out of the workday, and employees are falling behind on their responsibilities. As a result, employees feel stressed and negative toward training. This insight might lead the company to choose an LMS so that employees can learn from anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace.

4. Achieve A Greater Return On Investment

Ask any CFO what the importance of a Training Needs Assessment is, and they’ll give you 3 capital letters: ROI. Because they know that training decisions based on real, measurable skill gaps are more likely to result in learning and performance improvement, the return on training investment every company is looking for.

But there’s more. Through the Training Need Analysis process, you’ll be able to measure how effective past training was, too. For example, have skill gaps closed since the last assessment? Have learning obstacles been removed? Or, are employees still unable to meet their performance goals, despite previous learning initiatives?

This kind of evidence of the effectiveness of training is hard to ignore. Which is why a Training Needs Assessment builds credibility for training among stakeholders, earns the respect of senior managers, and justifies the need for a training budget. Do we even need to continue?

5. Engage Staff In Continuous Learning And Development

Employee engagement might not be something you expected to see on this list. But, boy, does it belong here! Why? Reports have shown that staff who feel their employers listen to and acknowledge their input are almost 5 times more likely to feel encouraged to do their best work. And a Training Needs Assessment is the perfect way to make them feel heard.

To start with, learning needs assessment questions in the form of surveys or interviews get employees actively involved in training decisions. For example, when employees say they need a more digital training delivery and are gifted with a powerful LMS, like TalentLMS, in the next quarter, they’ll know the company is listening to their needs.

More than that, the results of a needs assessment give managers the insights they need to plan the best development paths for their employees and succession plans for their teams. In other words, it’s a real win-win.

6. Make Organizational Change An Easy Transition

An old saying is that the only constant in life is change. And the same applies to business. Because the chances are that your company has already, or will still, adopt a new software program, restructure a department or shift its strategic vision. So, if you can’t avoid change, how do you best equip employees for these transitions?

The answer, of course, is training. But to understand which training will be the most helpful to employees in times of change, you have to assess their needs in each situation. For example, fostering a customer-centric culture might require training in customer service and related soft skills. Learning how to use a new training platform, on the other hand, requires technical training.

How To Perform A Training Needs Analysis

If by now, you’re not wondering how to conduct a Training Needs Assessment, you haven’t been paying attention. Because there are lots of solid reasons to start evaluating training needs in your company today. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Set Clear Business Objectives
    First, identify the objectives of training. Is the company’s goal to reduce costs? Improve innovation? Or is maybe the aim to become more efficient? Understanding the performance areas that employees need to improve on in order to help the company achieve its goals is the key to the next step.
  2. Identify The Competencies Needed To Achieve Them
    Once you know what employees must improve on, identify how they will improve. In other words, which knowledge and skills will they need to develop in order to become more productive, efficient or innovative?
  3. Remove Learning And Performance Obstacles
    Next, through surveys and other evaluation techniques, identify any obstacles that would prevent employees from learning and developing their knowledge and skills. This could be anything from poor training delivery methods, to a lack of management support.
  4. Provide The Appropriate Training
    Finally, armed with information from the previous 2 steps, design and deliver the most appropriate training for each employee or team’s needs. (And be confident that the results will be positive.)

Dive into the full details of the Training Needs Analysis with this step-by-step article.


It’s hard to deny that a Training Needs Assessment requires a bit of extra effort. More importantly, though, it saves time and resources by ensuring that the right training is delivered to the right people in the right way, and for the best results.

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