Employee training refers to the teaching of specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSA) to an employee. It is any effort to improve current or future employee performance by enhancing an employee’s ability to perform through learning, usually by altering the employee’s attitude or increasing his or her skills and knowledge. The need for training is determined by an employee’s performance deficiency, or a performance gap.
Training needs analysis is the method of determining the organization’s training needs and determines whether the organization’s needs, goals, and problems can be met or managed by training. Training needs can be identified at the organizational, departmental and occupational levels.
Training Needs at the Organizational Level
Training needs analysis at the organizational level compares and contrasts training needs against business strategies and goals. Analysis at this level is the essential because it begins with assessing the organization’s strategic direction. Analysis at this level determines whether training will be the proper means by which specific organizational goals are accomplished, or whether some other form of intervention would be more suitable.
One way of implementing an organizational training needs analysis is through a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The strengths of an organization are reinforced with continued training and preservation of the present situation. An organization’s weaknesses are managed with training interventions. Opportunities are balanced against costs, and Threats are minimized by recognizing areas where training interventions could enhance the performance of employees and eventually, of the organization.
Training Needs at the Departmental Level
Personalized resolutions for particular departments or teams need to be assessed. A departmental SWOT analysis can be performed to assess these needs.
Training Needs at the Occupational Level
Training needs at the occupational level are closely linked with the needs of employees. Line managers can help resolve issues that relate to specific jobs or occupations. Individual needs can then be associated with the competence of each employee within their roles. Methods for analyzing the needs of employees include:
- Performance appraisals
- Performance reviews
- Data analysis
The results of the training needs analysis allows the identification of training goals by answering what needs to be done. The training needs analysis identifies which employees need training and what type of training is needed. Training is not always the best solution to the given situation, and it is almost never the only solution. Other solutions which are more suitable may also be recommended. These include responsibility and role defining, improved communication, job rotation, clarification of job descriptions, and performance support tools. The recommendation is often a blended solution of both training and some other action.
By Shirley J. Caruso, M.A., Human Resource Development