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Training Needs Assessments (TNA): A Guide for Employers

Understanding your employees’ training needs can help you determine where to best utilize resources to increase productivity in the workplace and set your team members up for success. A training needs assessment (TNA) allows you to identify training needs throughout your organization. In this guide, you’ll learn what one is and how to conduct one so that you can begin designing and refining your employee training program.

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What is a TNA?

A training needs assessment (TNA) is the process of identifying what employees need to succeed in their roles, meet goals and be as productive as possible. These assessments identify performance areas in need of improvement to fulfill workplace requirements.

Employers use training needs assessments to save time and money by pinpointing specific areas where professional training resources could be beneficial. Training needs analyses are most often completed by the human resources department or training professionals within the organization.

How can a training needs assessment benefit your business?

Conducting a needs assessment for training benefits your organization for several reasons.

Improvements in employee training outcomes

A training needs assessment allows you to prioritize necessary training based on what will have the biggest impact on your company’s productivity. As a result, employees learn skills and develop abilities to exceed expectations in their roles, and your training programs become more effective.

In addition, a needs assessment for training sets clear expectations for how employees should perform and improve during and after training, establishing a benchmark for evaluating training efforts. An assessment opens the doors to ongoing improvements to your training program over time.

Identifying opportunities for upskilling

If your company is moving into a new line of business, adopting new technology or tackling a project with a new scope of work, a training needs assessment can help you determine whether your team has the skills necessary to adapt. In this way, an assessment enables you to identify opportunities for upskilling, the process of helping employees develop and strengthen skills so they can take on new challenges and roles.

Smarter resource allocation

Most organizations have limited funds for new employee training and other skill development programs. By performing a needs assessment for training, you can better manage your budget, spending on what your employees actually need to succeed. Smarter resource allocation will help you save and maximize your return on investment in training over time.

Increased employee engagement

Well-designed training programs help employees feel empowered and prepared to complete their assigned job duties. An effective training program can also leave team members feeling more motivated and inspired.Performing a training needs assessment is the first step toward creating the type of training program that gets these results and fosters employee engagement.

Closing performance gaps

When employees lack the necessary knowledge and skills, performance gaps can form among teams, departments and entire organizations. A needs assessment for training can help you identify existing performance gaps and develop a strategy to close them for the benefit of your company.

Better employee retention

A training needs assessment can lead to improvements in the effectiveness of your training programs. When an employee attends useful training, they get the message that you’re investing in them and their success is tied to the organization’s success. Since team members who feel valued are more likely to want to stay at your company long term, a training needs assessment can aid in employee retention.

More opportunities for internal hiring

When your team is well-trained, your employees will be in a better position to take on new roles and move into management positions. Since a training needs assessment can strengthen your training efforts, performing one is like planting seeds for future promotions.

Types of training needs assessments

The following are common types of training needs assessments that companies use.

Cost-benefit analysis

A cost-benefit analysis analyzes the return on investment of an organization’s training programs. It weighs the costs of training versus the outcomes, identifying wasted expenditures and areas where investing more may be beneficial.

Person analysis

A person analysis looks at each employee and determines whether they require training to fulfill their duties and be as productive as possible. This analysis may also determine if training instructors are effective in their positions. Not just for training, a person analysis may also be performed before designing a performance improvement plan for a particular employee.

Organizational analysis

An organizational analysis examines what kinds of training the organization needs. It identifies the company’s overarching goals and how they can be met through training programs.

Work/task analysis

A work/task analysis explores the effectiveness of how employees perform a certain task. It also determines whether the implementation of training can further improve productivity for particular tasks.

Performance analysis

A performance analysis measures employee performance and assesses whether it meets the company’s needs. It analyzes any performance gaps and determines whether training would improve overall productivity at work.

How to conduct a needs assessment for training

Follow these steps when conducting a training needs assessment for your business.

1. Define your company’s objectives and goals

The first step when conducting a training needs assessment is to clarify your company objectives and goals. Knowing what you’re hoping to accomplish can help you determine what areas you should focus on when it comes to employee training.

2. Poll employees with similar positions on their training needs

Present your employees with your organizational goals and objectives as they relate to each division. Then, have your team identify the training they believe they need to further these goals. Ask them to list up to 10 areas where they could use training to be more productive and increase workplace performance.

3. Prioritize the training needs your employees identified

Once you understand your employees’ training needs, prioritize each based on the order of importance. For example, if one of your company’s goals is to increase customer retention rates and your customer service representatives list communication training as one of their training needs, this would likely be higher up on the list than a training on time management. Even though both of these are important, communication training could directly impact your company’s customer retention rates.

4. Evaluate current training methods and make changes where necessary

If you currently have training programs in place, take the time to evaluate their performance and determine areas that need improvement. Implement new programs where necessary to meet your team’s needs.

5. Create a training strategy that focuses on prioritized training needs

Organize a training strategy that addresses the needs you established as priorities for your organization. Ensure management and staff are on board with the strategy and committed to seeing it through.

6. Regularly assess employee progress as a result of training

Make it a priority to regularly analyze how your training programs are performing. Look for improvements in certain areas, and check to see if employees are becoming more effective in their roles. As you analyze the progress, establish clear guidelines for measuring performance and implementing changes when necessary.

FAQs about training needs assessment

What’s the difference between a training needs assessment and a training needs analysis?

A training needs analysis is closely connected to a training needs assessment, but it is a more in-depth look at your organization. With a training needs assessment, your goal is to identify areas of focus. An analysis goes deeper, trying to determine why performance gaps exist and how to prevent them from occurring in the future. Often, a training needs assessment is the first step in performing a complete training needs analysis.

What’s the difference between a training needs assessment and training design?

Training design is when your organization develops a training program. A training needs assessment is the process of pinpointing what training your employees require. Performing a needs assessment for training is often the initial step in training design.

What are typical competencies that need training at work?

Common competencies that may require training to improve the overall success of the workplace include:

  • Risk management
  • Leadership
  • Adaptability
  • Customer service
  • Communication
  • Innovation
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Self-management
  • Technology
  • Teamwork
  • Result orientation

You can often apply many of these competencies to different positions. However, it’s also important to assess each department to determine specific competencies that need training.

What techniques can you use to assess training needs in the workplace?

Techniques you can use when analyzing training needs include:

  • Work samples
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews with employees
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Observation
  • Conversations with management
  • Report studies
  • Comparison to the performance of competitors
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