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What Is a Training Needs Assessment (TNA) & How to Conduct It

training needs assessment

Did you know companies worldwide spend over $1,200 per employee on workplace training? 

This statistic seems surprising when you consider that as many as 70% of employees feel unprepared for the future of work. 

The reason for this gap is fairly obvious.

It’s ineffective training programs.

Unplanned and inefficient implementation of employee training can derail even the most extravagant of endeavors and cost you dearly in terms of money, productivity, and overall employee morale. 

The solution?

Conduct a training needs assessment before implementing your programs.

Also called a training needs analysis (TNA), such an assessment lets you figure out:

  • Which employees need training
  • What competencies they’re lacking
  • How much training will be enough to fill the gap

In this blog post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about training needs assessments, including what they are, different training needs analysis methods, and how to conduct training and development needs assessment correctly to get the most out of it.

Let’s begin.

What Is the Meaning of Training Needs Assessment?

Training needs assessment or training needs analysis (TNA) is a process companies use to determine an employee’s knowledge, skills, and attitudes to improve their performance to a level that meets or exceeds the organization’s expectations. 

Some of the ways in which companies conduct TNA for training include: 

  • asking employees to take assessment tests and questionnaires
  • holding one-to-one or group interviews 
  • evaluating data 
  • closely observing employees 

Here are some examples of training assessment tests:

Purpose of Training Needs Assessment

Training needs assessments are particularly helpful in these situations:

  • After onboarding a new employee, to find out if they need to take any training courses before you can put them on the job
  • When an employee scores low on their performance review and you need to identify their skill gaps
  • To create and implement career development plans for improving employee productivity and engagement
  • To identify and groom employees with leadership potential as a part of your leadership development and succession planning initiatives
  • When organizational changes require department restructuring or changes in job responsibilities

How to Conduct a Training Needs Assessment

Taking a systematic approach to conducting a Training Needs Assessment or TNA can significantly improve the quality of your findings. Here’s how you should go about it. 

Step 1: Analyze your business needs

Step 2: Identify key competencies and training needs 

Step 3: Weigh your training options 

Step 4: Report the findings 

Step 5: Measure training effectiveness

Let’s take a detailed look at each training needs assessment step.

Step 1: Analyze Your Business Needs

As with many other business processes, you need perfect clarity on your needs if you want your TNA program to succeed.

Defining organizational goals ensures that your training programs are relevant to your organization in the present and future.

For example, let’s say you want to enhance your brand awareness and recall. The marketing skills assessments you conduct in this case would be quite different from those for creating a succession pipeline in the marketing department.

When analyzing your business needs, you should also ask yourself some important questions, such as:

  • Why am I conducting this training needs assessment?
  • What results do I expect from it?
  • Is conducting a training program the right solution for my business goals?

Doing so is crucial since there may be situations where training might not even be the answer. The correct solution could be an organizational change, such as restructuring a department or something as simple as creating and sharing fun quizzes for better employee engagement.

Related Read:How to Make a Fun Quiz 

Step 2: Identify Key Competencies and Training Needs 

After you’ve identified and examined your business needs, the next step is to figure out the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need in your employees to meet those needs and how your employees can reach the required levels.

When performing your training needs analysis, ensure you’re not solely focused on the relevant competencies. You should also try to find out as much as possible about the various learning obstacles your employees face and their learning styles and preferences. 

The more learning-related information you can gather about each employee, the more personalized and effective your training programs will be.

To determine individual employees’ training needs, you can combine two or more training needs assessment methods listed in the previous section. 

For example, you can use skill assessment tests to find skill gaps, along with either interviews or training needs assessment questionnaires to find your employees’ learning challenges and preferences. 

Watch: How to Create an Employee Survey or Questionnaire

Step 3: Weigh Your Training Options 

Analyze the competency gaps of individual employees, and you’ll get a list of training needs. Match the needs with the most suitable training options and categorize them into high, medium, and low priority. Consider these factors when making this categorization:

  • Relevance to business needs: Training needs that are more important in terms of business goals and pain points will be prioritized higher. 
  • Cost: If possible, you should postpone training programs that will hog up your training budget. 
  • Time: Too much time invested in training may result in the employee being unable to complete job duties. 
  • Return on Investment: Training programs that will take a long time to provide a return on investment can be prioritized lower. 
  • Legal Compliance: Training needs that must be met from a legal standpoint or for maintaining employees’ licenses/certifications will always be a high priority.
Related Read: How to Link Your Training Programs to Your Business Goals

Step 4: Report the Findings 

The next step is to report the training needs and their assessed priority levels and recommend short—and long-term training plans for each. Your report should also include details about why and how this training assessment was conducted, including information on the methods used and the people involved.


Step 5 – Measure Training Effectiveness

In the last step of the training needs assessment process, we measure the effectiveness of the finalized training programs before they are implemented on a large scale. 

As mentioned in this post, you can conduct your training program for a small batch of employees and then ask them to take a post-training assessment test. If the results are encouraging enough, you can scale up. 

If not, you change your training program until it shows positive results.  

Closing the loop this way will ensure that you have developed an effective training program and save you from unnecessary costs and wasted time.

To know more about leveraging assessments to deliver effective training, check out:

Employee Training Assessment Guide: Train Smarter to Boost ROI

Training Needs Assessment at Different Levels

To ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of the training needs in your organization, you must conduct TNA at three levels. These are:

  • Organizational level
  • Task level
  • Individual level

Let’s look at each of these levels or types of training needs.

  • Organizational Level

At the organizational level, TNA identifies critical training needs from a big-picture perspective. The aim is to design training programs to help your organization achieve its strategic objectives.

Let’s say a service company has been receiving poor feedback lately from customers. An organizational-level TNA would find out exactly where the problem lies and how it can be sorted out to improve customer satisfaction

To conduct this macro-level analysis, you need to:

  • Thoroughly examine your business goals, skill inventory, customer satisfaction survey reports, and work culture 
  • Find areas where training is most needed (for instance, a specific department or group of employees)
  • Conduct a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to better understand your business situation


A great thing about organization-level TNA is that you have clearly defined and measurable outcomes. This greatly improves the chances of your training program’s success. 

  • Task Level 

Task-level or operational-level TNA involves analyzing individual tasks to find out the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) needed to achieve them satisfactorily and then correlating these KSAs with the actual KSAs of the workforce to find training gaps.

For example, let’s say you want more sales this year. In your task-level TNA, you would start with understanding how a sale is made, then move towards analyzing industry and company standards and the operational challenges that prevent your sales department from achieving them.

Tip: To find out the required KSAs for various tasks, you can look at job specifications and descriptions of related job roles. 

  • Individual Level

Training needs assessment at the individual level analyzes how well an employee performs his job responsibilities. The difference between individual employees’ expected and actual performance provides the training needs at this level.

Two employees in the same department might have distinct training needs. For instance, one employee in the accounting and finance department might require a refresher on financial analysis. At the same time, another might benefit from training in general areas like workplace communication and email etiquette.

Apart from analyzing relevant KSAs, individual-level TNA also aims to find out the learning obstacles (if any) for underperforming employees. 

A complete understanding of an employee’s performance-related challenges ensures that the chosen training program will raise their performance to the expected standards. 

Methods of Training Needs Assessment

A variety of methods are used for TNA. Depending on your goals/business needs, you may opt for any of these or multiple ones. 

  • Skill Assessment Tests

Skill assessment tests are commonly used in recruitment processes. But, they can also be an excellent tool for conducting a training needs assessment. You can use these to easily and accurately measure your current employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. 

The number of questions that an employee got wrong on the test can be a good indicator of their training needs. And if you’re using assessment software, you can also analyze and compare the test-takers’ performances.

Watch: How to Create an Assessment Online

  • Survey Questionnaires

Survey questionnaires are an amazing option if your strategy is to directly ask your employees about their performance challenges. You can create and share these easily using online questionnaire software to streamline the process.

A well-designed questionnaire for TNA should combine open-ended and closed-ended questions, with some ranking and projective questions sprinkled in. 

Tip – If you’re conducting an organizational-level or task-level TNA, you can improve the credibility of your training needs survey by allowing your employees to submit their responses anonymously.

  • Interviews

You can conduct interviews for training needs assessment in two ways.

  • Individual Interviews – Conducting face-to-face or video interviews with your employees is a simple yet effective way to collect information about performance gaps. Depending on the employee’s preference, you can choose between an informal or formal setting for such interviews.
  • Focus Groups – In this TNA method, several employees get together to discuss their training needs and learning challenges. The training manager closely monitors the conversation and recommends a training program based on their analysis of the focus group participants.
Related Read:15 Best Video Interview Questions to Ask Candidates
  • Observations

A lot of useful information about a job and the employee doing it can be collected by merely observing an employee as they work on their day-to-day tasks. The key things you learn this way include:

  • the functional aspects of the job
  • the technical methodology followed by the employee to perform it
  • behavioral aspects of the employee

While simplistic, this training needs identification method is great for getting both qualitative and quantitative feedback about an employee’s performance.

  • Data Evaluation

The HR records of a company contain many important data sources for a training needs assessment. These include:

  • Exit interviews
  • Job descriptions
  • Performance evaluations
  • Production, cost, and sales records
  • Accident and safety reports

When analyzing HR records, you need to keep an eye out for common problems that the training can address.

Apart from HR records, you can also look at your customer feedback to identify performance deficiencies. This is crucial if you’re in the service industry.

Related Read: 15 Ways to Collect Customer Feedback and Make the Most of It

Create Your Training Needs Assessments Easily & Quickly 

The importance of needs assessment for organizations today can’t be understated. Regularly conducting staff needs assessments is an excellent way to ensure employees work to their fullest potential. 

But, for company-wide implementation of training needs assessments, you need a way to measure learning gaps and training progress seamlessly. 

ProProfs Quiz Maker lets you do just that. With its intuitive interface, advanced AI quiz generator, smart test settings, and library of ready-to-use & customizable assessment tests, you can conduct insightful assessments easily. It also offers thousands of training needs assessment templates and a virtual classroom functionality to easily assign assessments to employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the tools required for a training needs assessment?

You can use various tools to conduct training assessments, including:

  • Skill assessment tests 
  • Survey questionnaires
  • One-on-one in-person or video interviews
  • Focus group sessions 
  • Employee observations 
  • HR records of exit interviews, job descriptions, performance evaluations, safety incidents, and more 

Depending on your requirements and budget, you can use one or more training needs assessment tools

What are the three classes or levels of training needs?

The three classes or levels of training needs are:

  • Organization level: Training needs crucial from a big-picture and long-term business perspective 
  • Task/operation level training needs: Training needs according to individual tasks 
  • Individual & team level: Training needed by employees to perform their responsibilities satisfactorily

What questions should you ask in a training needs analysis?

If you’re using assessment tests for TNA, your questions will depend on the assessment takers’ job role. But if you’re conducting a training needs survey, here are some general questions you can ask:

  • What are the organization’s goals this year?
  • What changes are required to meet these goals?
  • What skills do you and your team members need to meet these goals?
  • What training will help you close the knowledge gaps?

What are the benefits of training needs assessment?

Training Needs Assessment (TNA) sharpens your company’s competitive edge by pinpointing precise training needs, aligning learning with business goals, and ensuring training effectiveness. It maximizes your training investment, boosts employee morale and readiness, and helps increase customer satisfaction.

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About the author

Vipul Bhagia is an e-learning expert and content creator, specializing in instructional design. He excels in crafting compelling e-learning modules and designing effective employee training assessments. He is passionate about leveraging digital solutions to transform work culture and boost productivity. Vipul enjoys exploring emerging tech innovations and sharing his insights with fellow industry professionals.