Online Training Needs Analysis

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Online Training Needs Analysis

This article discusses the benefits of ongoing staff training, and the advantages of online surveys in the skills audit and training needs analysis process, compared to the alternative paper-based and face-to-face methods.

Written by Paul Quinn, 2006.

To most organisations, the benefits of investing in ongoing staff training are clear. They include:

  • Process improvements: reduced duplication of effort, less time spent correcting mistakes, faster access to information, etc.

  • Cost savings: lower staff turnover, lower recruitment costs; reduction in bad debts; reduced customer support calls; reduced help desk calls; reduced need for supervision; reduced downtime; increased staff productivity; fewer machine breakdowns; lower maintenance costs, etc.

  • Improved profitability: increased sales; more referrals due to better customer service; new product ideas; improved customer satisfaction and retention, etc.

  • Performance improvement: in quality, quantity, speed, safety, problem solving, etc.

  • Behavioural improvements: in attitude, ethics, motivation, leadership, communication, reduced staff conflict, etc.

  • Increased staff satisfaction: Well trained staff tend to be happier, stay longer, and are more loyal.

Furthermore, research undertaken to uncover the financial impact to an organisation of investing in staff training shows a clear and quantifiable link between an above average investment in staff training and superior bottom line performance:

  • Based on the training investments of 575 companies during a 3-year period, researchers found that firms investing the most in training and development (measured by total investment per employee and percentage of total gross payroll) yielded a 36.9% total shareholder return compared with the 25.5% weighted return for the S&P 500 index for the same period. [1]

  • Firms that invest $1,500 per employee in training (per year) compared with those that spend $125 experience an average of 24% higher gross profit margins and 218% higher revenue per employee. [2]

  • Just a 2% increase in productivity has been shown to net a 100% return on investment in training. [3]

  • A Louis Harris and Associates poll reports that among employees with "poor" training opportunities, 41% planned to leave within a year, whereas of those who considered their company's training opportunities to be "excellent", only 12% planned to leave within the same period.

So, if we accept the findings above that support the case for investing in a formal staff training program, how does one go about identifying staff training requirements and putting a suitable program in place?

Enter The Staff Skills Audit:

If a company's strategic plan involves doubling the workforce size within 3 years and opening two completely new divisions during that period, then you would hope that the company's HR Management team have a good handle on what skills the company currently has, and what new skills it needs to obtain in order for the company to meet its business objectives. As such, a staff skills audit (uncovering current situation) and training needs analysis (guiding future direction) is a vital first step in obtaining company-wide quantitative data on what skills an organisation's workforce currently has, and (based on the company's business objectives) where the skills gaps lie.

Whilst conducting face-to-face meetings with a select few staff members to discuss training requirements, or ensuring training needs are raised with staff at their annual performance reviews can both be a worthwhile exercise, neither approach will give you an accurate company-wide picture of the organisation's skills status and future training requirements at one point in time. As such, an annual or bi-annual online staff training needs survey is becoming an increasingly popular approach to address this requirement.

When assessed against the alternatives of paper-based or face-to-face training needs analysis surveys, we find the online approach has a number of clear advantages. These include:

1. Speed and ease of reporting: online survey results are generated instantly, and anyone given authorisation can access the results from any web browser in the World, at any time, with the data securely held on encrypted servers. If the same survey is used results can also be compared from month to month, or year to year to help spot trends and assist with budgeting and planning. The online approach also saves significant time with distributing and administering the survey as a survey link is simply e-mailed to employees.

2. Data entry time/expense/errors: the online survey quickly stores the exact data and scoring entered by each employee. Management's data entry requirement is removed.

3. High cost: compared with the paper or face-to-face alternatives, the online TNA process has been shown to cost up to 80% less, and reduce decision making time by up to 90%.

4. Consistency:
when a decentralised, verbal training needs analysis system is replaced by a centralised online process, the training survey issued is the same for all employees and comparison of like-for-like results made easy.

5. Interviewer bias or interpretation errors: the 'interview' is in the form of an online survey and what the employee types is exactly what HR report on.

Once the company-wide survey has been conducted, the next steps in the training strategy development process include:

1.Analyse the survey results.
2.Create a staff training profile.
3.Develop a training development plan.
4.Communicate the training development plan to all employees.
5.Implement the training.
6.Evaluate the training effectiveness. [4]

It is recommended that this process be conducted on a 12 monthly cycle at a minimum.

In short, a well constructed skills audit and training needs analysis process will provide a fast and accurate snapshot of workforce training requirements, assist with training vendor selection and budgeting, and ultimately help improve employee retention levels and overall staff satisfaction.

Trial an Australian-built training needs analysis online survey tool:

PeoplePulse is an Australian built online feedback and survey tool used extensively by Australian and New Zealand based organisations to conduct online training needs analysis. The tool can also be used by HR to conduct cost effective staff climate surveys, exit interviews, and 'new starter' feedback surveys to name a few popular uses.

Please complete the form below to arrange your FREE custom-branded training needs analysis survey demonstration and a PeoplePulse pricing and information sheet.

Upon completing the form below, a PeoplePulse representative will contact you to discuss your needs and current situation. From there we will set up your demo and arrange a suitable time to show the system to you:



Please be assured that your correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or any other details you provide to outside sources.

The above demonstration request form was powered by PeoplePulse.

Article written by Paul Quinn, Director of Quinntessential.

Research sources:

1. American Society for Training and Development (ASTD).
2. Laurie J. Bassi et al., "Profiting From Learning: Do Firms' Investments in Education and Training Pay Off?" American Society for Training and Development, 2000.
3. "The 2001 Global Training and Certification Study," CompTIA and Prometric.
4. - 'Training Needs Analysis and Skills Audit'.

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