Article: The use of online surveys in the skill audit and training needs analysis
Written by Paul Quinn, 2006.
well constructed training needs analysis process can help an organisation
in many ways - from assisting with training vendor selection and budgeting, improving
employee retention levels, and enhancing overall staff satisfaction. Yet before
Management commit to investing in a training needs analysis project, they must
first understand the close link between staff training initiatives and bottom
To most organisations, the benefits of investing in ongoing staff training are
clear. They include:
improvements: reduced duplication of effort, less time spent correcting mistakes,
faster access to information, etc.
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.
profitability: increased sales; more referrals due to better customer service;
new product ideas; improved customer satisfaction and retention, etc.
improvement: in quality, quantity, speed, safety, problem solving, etc.
improvements: in attitude, ethics, motivation, leadership, communication,
reduced staff conflict, etc.
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:
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. 
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. 
a 2% increase in productivity has been shown to net a 100% return on investment
in training. 
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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%.
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.
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.
the company-wide survey has been conducted, the next steps in the training strategy
development process include:
the survey results.
a staff training profile.
a training development plan.
the training development plan to all employees.
training effectiveness. 
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.
an Australian-built training needs analysis online survey tool:
is an Australian built online feedback and survey tool used extensively by Australian
and New Zealand based organisations to conduct online staff skill audits and training
needs analysis surveys. The tool can also be used by HR to conduct cost effective
staff climate surveys, exit interview surveys, 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
completing the form below, a PeoplePulse representative will contact you to briefly
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:
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correspondence with us is confidential. We will not divulge email addresses or
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Society for Training and Development (ASTD).
Laurie J. Bassi et al., "Profiting From Learning: Do Firms' Investments in
Education and Training Pay Off?" American Society for Training and Development,
3. "The 2001 Global Training
and Certification Study," CompTIA and Prometric.
EOWA.gov.au - 'Training Needs Analysis and Skills Audit'.