Workplace Training Needs Analysis [Complete Guide]

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Training your staff is an incredibly important part of corporate growth. Roles are constantly changing, so employee task comprehension levels need to be reviewed regularly. 

But just coaching your team on new tasks alone isn’t enough to keep them up to speed. That’s where training needs analysis comes into play. 

Let’s dive deeper into needs analysis to define what it is and why it’s so important. 

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What is TNA in Training?

Similar to skills gap analysis, a training needs analysis or training needs assessment is designed to define what level of coaching your team needs. 

The assessment overviews their level of task comprehension to highlight what skills/understanding they need to reach optimal levels. 

Once the knowledge gaps have been defined, the analysis suggests training methods to help minimise or eradicate deficiencies. 

But when should you be scheduling training reviews?

How Often Should a Training Needs Analysis be Conducted?

Before running any rounds of coaching you should conduct robust training needs analysis to ensure your tutilage will be as effective as possible. 

However, there are also more defined times when analysis could be pertinent. These include: 

  • Following a hiring process
  • After performance reviews
  • When performance levels begin to slip
  • As part of career development plans
  • When roles change
  • To capitalise on industry trends

But it’s also important to highlight that not all needs analyses are created equal. Different skills, outcomes, and environments require different approaches. 

Let’s take a look at some nuances of training now. 

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Proactive vs. Reactive Needs Analysis

Two core types of analysis to be aware of are proactive and reactive. But what are these approaches and what do they look like?

  • Proactive training reviews coaching requirements concerning corporate growth while keeping employee career development plans in mind. 
  • Reactive training usually follows a business change. When someone who performs a specific role leaves the business, another employee needs training to complete that job description. 

One example would be a PPC (pay-per-click) specialist leaving a marketing team. Before they leave, someone will need to be trained to ensure no loss of budget or performance occurs. 

You can’t prepare for everything your business throws at you. However, regularly completing proactive training gap analysis ensures less key-person dependency in your company. 

Learning Needs Analysis vs. Training Needs Analysis

Training and learning needs analysis might sound like interchangeable words to mean the same thing. But there are subtle differences between them. 

  • Training is completed in a classroom or online forum and is delivered by a teacher, tutor, line manager, or other SME (subject matter expert). 
  • Learning, on the other hand, is more individual-led education. In this case, ‘learning’ refers to new knowledge gleaned from practice or study. 

It helps to think of training as consisting of two parties, whereas learning is more about personal evaluation – more of a solo process. 

Training Needs Analysis Example

For a real-world example of a needs analysis, let’s look at new workers in a retail environment. 

New employees may already have customer service skills from previous sales roles. However, further analysis might show gaps in their knowledge and understanding of your product range.  

The key here is to set SMART goals to measure their training against. However, a strong, measurable target might be getting them to learn specific product information before moving on to other areas of development. 

In this example, a good developmental approach would be to employ a healthy mix of training and learning. This ensures new employees gather knowledge from an SME while completing their own research.

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Importance of a Training Needs Analysis

As we said at the start, training is important for every business to stay up to date with industry standards. Tasks are changing, but so too are workers. 

Recent statistics show that Millennials and Gen Z employees prioritise workplace training more than other generations. In addition, the same report found that two-thirds of 16-34-year-olds feel that training provisions and development opportunities improve their commitment to an employer. 

When future workforces care this much about development, employers need to be sure that team leaders and line managers effectively distribute valuable insights and manage knowledge gaps when they occur.

Types of Training Needs Analysis

Training needs analysis generally consists of three core development areas: 

1. Knowledge: Particularly important for businesses that employ staff with minimal work experience – the hospitality sector would be a prime example. Because restaurants and bars have specific compliance requirements, workers need role-specific knowledge. 

2. Abilities: Developing an employee’s ability levels through training needs analysis is hugely beneficial. This area of development could focus on abilities like decision-making or time management. 

3. Skills: A Government survey showed that 36% of all vacancies in 2022 were related to skill shortages. Enhancing hard and soft skills is a crucial element of training needs analysis. 

However, because every role and person is different, the quantities of each core training type required for your employees may vary. 

Taking our retail new starter example from above, because the main developmental goal was product understanding, the knowledge stage of the training would need to be more robust than the ability or skills sections. 

Varying levels of comprehension and task difficulty around the workplace make the quality of your training even more important. That’s why at TSW Training, we encourage employers, tutors, team leaders, and managers to take our Train the Trainer course. Education helps gatekeep the quality of coaching in your business. 

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What are the Training Needs Analysis Models?

Now that we know the different types of training needs analysis, let’s take a closer look at some methods that can be employed to complete the overviews:

  • Competitive analysis: Compare your business with your competitors. How do your company’s knowledge and performance levels stack up against others? Is there anything you can learn from top-performing firms/individuals?
  • Observation: Check over how your team is performing certain tasks. For observations to form a vital part of your training profile, employees must understand these are not disciplinary measures.
  • Interview: Speak to your team and engage with key stakeholders. This is your opportunity to canvas your business to get a feel for how people perceive the company and their role within it. 
  • Questionnaires: In addition to interviewing, send surveys or questionnaires to ascertain how confident staff are when performing business-critical tasks. 
  • Key performance indicators (KPIs): Targets can be anything from sales or production figures to customer satisfaction scores to health and safety KPIs. However, they are important tools in training as they act as critical benchmarks for progress. 
  • Performance reviews: Regular performance reviews give you a chance to encourage staff. However, they can also be excellent exercises for determining where training may be needed. 
  • Focus groups: Facilitate open group discussions where employees and stakeholders feel confident sharing holes in their knowledge. 
  • Customer feedback: Customers highlight where performance might be slipping long before most internal reviews. Leverage this feedback in your training sessions to reference real-world scenarios and role-play correct responses. 
  • Role analysis: How have certain roles in the businesses augmented over time? Do those changes require further support or education?

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How to Conduct a Training Needs Analysis

A solid approach to completing a need analysis for training should see employers, managers or SMEs work through three main tasks: 

1. Define Learning Objectives

What skills do employees need to complete the specific tasks associated with their day-to-day role? Based on the answer, you can further define training methods that would most benefit them.

2. Evaluate Current Skill Level

Observe the team or employees completing their work. Aim to identify workers who are completing tasks successfully and those who could be improved through added training. 

3. Highlight Knowledge Gaps

When you’ve identified which employees could benefit from coaching, you need to define where there are gaps between their current skills and those required. 

But there is slightly more to it than that. So, let’s break the process down further and look at the specific steps included in an example training needs analysis. 

What is the Typical Training Needs Analysis Process?

Typically, there are five core steps to most training needs analysis: 

Step 1 – Define Your Goals

Set SMART goals and intertwine them with business targets. Doing this helps to align your training process with the business’s growth strategies, as well as these added benefits: 

  • Enhanced accountability 
  • Offering trackable metrics
  • Improving training ROI 
  • Trainees can plot progress

A man presenting to a group of people in a conference room.

Step 2 – Assess Current Skills

After clearly defining where you want to be, ascertain where you are. Methods like focus groups, skill assessments, and observations are great for determining your team’s competency levels. 

However, for this step to work, you need to complete the skills reviews in a nonjudgmental or punitive manner.

Step 3 – Identify the Gaps

Following those assessments, you should now have a clearer understanding of where training gaps exist. 

Step 4 – Gather Feedback

Before implementing specific training plans, ask your staff where they feel improvements could be made. 

As we alluded to earlier when referencing Millennials and Gen Z workers, employees are increasingly valuing training opportunities.

In fact, research from Ciphr found that Google searches for terms like “first aid training” and “time management training” improved by 21% and 12%, respectively, from July 2021 to June 2022.

Step 5 – Measure vs. Competition

Now that you know what training is needed in your business, think about looking at the wider industry. 

How do your goals and current skill levels stack up? Are there any emerging trends you could highlight to stay competitive?

Before you know it, you’ll have an industry-leading training set up. 

Common Challenges of a Training Needs Analysis

Conducting training needs analysis might seem like a perfect solution to improving the standards in your business, but there are also some challenges to be aware of. 

One of the biggest challenges is ensuring that the data you collect from the various analysis methods is reliable. 

For example, exercises like focus groups, interviews, and surveys are great for gaining key insights. But for that information to stay relevant and useful, you need to be able to review it impartially and with your business goals in mind. 

Additionally, one key challenge facing most businesses aiming to up-weight their skill levels is the calibre of coaching. That’s why it’s super important to have your SMEs complete the Train the Trainer course with TSW Training

Not only does this provide the insights they need to resonate with their teams, but it also ensures the quality of your in-house training. 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions about training needs analysis. 

How Can Technology Be Leveraged to Enhance the Process of a Training Needs Analysis?

You can utilise technology in your training needs analysis through several methods, including: 

  • Training videos
  • E-learning opportunities
  • Online courses with TSW Training
  • Gamification in training
  • Leverage simulated scenarios 
  • Conduct surveys 
  • Virtual training sessions

How Does a Training Needs Analysis Contribute to Organizational Performance?

By highlighting the skill gaps in your oganisation, you take control over the working standards. 

Additionally, when you include a stage of competitor research in your needs analysis, you also gain insights into how you compare against others in your industry. 

Improving your internal standards, measuring performance against industry competitors, and enlisting the help of professional development experts like TSW are great approaches to developing an industry-leading training programme. 

What is Training Development Needs Analysis?

A training development needs analysis is a coaching process designed to help employees bridge any gaps in their knowledge. The overarching aim of the process is to achieve business and personal goals through skill development. 


If you want to attain your business goals and holistically create an industry-leading brand, then training needs analysis is the core element to improvement. 

Imperative for retaining your business’s talent and knowledge, empowering your team with opportunities to close skills gaps gives them autonomy over their professional development.

The first step to road mapping effective training needs analysis is to ensure your SMEs are up to standard. 

A Train the Trainer qualification with TSW Training guarantees that level of coaching in your business.

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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