Gap Analysis Planning: How to Assess Your Employee Training Needs

As Millennials and Gen Z start becoming managers, leaders, and newly hireable employees, the value of employee training has skyrocketed. These generations value good training, and your onboarding training can increase employee retention by more than 80%!

Over the last few years, labor shortages have made some businesses a bit more open about who they hire. While this gets bodies in the door, it can mean you need to address the differing skills gaps between employees during training. In fact, over 50% of HR professionals in this study say that the skills shortage has gotten worse even when they can find new individuals to hire.

To deal with the effects of this, you’ll need to know how to identify these differences, and you’ll want to streamline training processes by performing a skills gap analysis. This will help you account for different employee skill levels and make the training program more effective.

Group of cheerful colleagues in a bright modern office space.

A skills gap analysis can become a vital tool that helps you figure out your employees’ training needs. Whether you are considering the needs of a single employee or of a whole team, it is important to fully understand the scope of knowledge available to each person. 

Then you can understand how to help develop employees for their current roles and prepare them for future roles.

Breaking Down the Benefits of a Skills Gap Analysis

Conducting a skills gap analysis has a variety of benefits that can improve your workplace. These benefits extend to: 

  • Utilizing the training budget more effectively

Generalized training programs don’t directly address training problems or individual needs. They may be more expensive and extensive than needed. A skills gap analysis will reveal where training is needed, reducing the training resources you need to employ. 

  • Adjusting your hiring processes

When you know which skills your employees are currently effective and weak at, you can choose new hires who are masters at the underrepresented skills. 

  • Better employee retention

Employees armed with the skills to do their jobs face less work-related frustration. Properly identifying where an individual lacks skills can help you get them the training they need to master those skills. This will decrease frustration and increase retention. 

  • More effective future planning

Skills analysis is doubly beneficial for your business because it can help you address issues happening now while readying your business for future needs. 

You can build more effective teams where skills and weaknesses are balanced between individuals.

Actions to Take After an Analysis 

These advantages are great; however, it’s important to remember that any analysis simply offers a momentary snapshot into the workplace. To keep your information up to date, you should complete post-training evaluations to ensure the issues revealed by a skills gap analysis are addressed.

Also, consider continuously doing skills gap analysis at critical moments in employee growth. As an employee’s goals and roles change, their skill set may need to be adjusted to help them become more effective.

How to Perform a Skills Gap Analysis

Where to Start? 

The kind of analysis you do, and the skills that will be tested in this analysis, will change based on which department you’re working with and the employees you’re testing.

Why Create a Skills Gap Analysis Plan in Excel or Any Other Program? 

Don’t waste your time or keep backtracking through work you’ve already done. By creating a dedicated skills gap analysis process, you’ll save valuable time and make future analyses easier and more accessible. This will make them an asset, rather than a chore.

Follow these steps to make an effective analysis method depending on your needs.

Step 1: Identify the Right Skills

First, you must identify the skills that you’ll be testing for. Consider if you want this test to be about: 

  • Overall performance? Or a single skill and its subcategories? 
  • Is it testing an individual? A team? A department? 
  • Checking in on employee skills, or is it about preemptive training? 

In any case, make sure your testing is relevant to the business needs and the current job or career path of the employee you are testing.  

For example, if you are looking to explore your employee’s leadership skills, you’ll want to test senior employees who are ready for a management position over a newly hired member of personnel.

Make it Specific 

Make a list of skills that is as comprehensive as possible. You want this test to be thorough and specific to get the most value out of it. Continuing with the leadership example, consider all the different aspects of leadership you’d want to test, such as public speaking abilities, general planning skills, and talent development strategy.

Step 2: Categorize Skills 

If you are choosing to test more than one kind of skill, consider each category carefully. Rate the skills within them from most important to least important, depending on the team you’re working with. After all, different teams in the same department may have different focuses, making certain skills more meaningful than others.

On the other hand, some skills, like communication, are essential no matter where you work.   

Assign each skill a rating from 1-5, with 5 being the most important, which should reflect how important it is ideally to the employees you’ll test.  

Step 3: Identify Employee Attitudes and Mastery to Skills List

Now, take this list of skills and interview your employees. Have them rate the skills list in the same way you need. The difference between the employees’ rating and the actual rating may indicate the presence of a skill gap.

This method of testing is a great way to find out if you have a team issue or individual issues, which can help you better allocate training resources. If a single worker in a team scores low, then an individualized training strategy will be more fitting than group training and vice versa.

Instead of making assumptions based on a manager’s perspective on an employee through their recommendations, the business will now have data that shows where that employee’s strengths and weaknesses lie.

Prepare the System

Prepare examples that demonstrate how your rating systems work. What should be considered a three instead of a four? Define maximum and minimum scores clearly and communicate to team members conducting these tests what kind of answers they should be looking for. This will make the testing better, and the data will be more accurate because of this standardization.

Quantitative data is easier to analyze than qualitative data, so aim to quantify as many aspects of the testing as possible. If necessary, have a side area for notes that should be considered in evaluation later that may affect how you will make a training program for that individual in the final stage.

Step 4: Collect and Understand Data, Implement Training Strategies 

After you have this data, it’s time to put it to use. Use this data to determine if you have a department-wide email communication issue, for example, or if just one individual is struggling.

You will also be able to identify employee strengths and weaknesses on an individual level, noticing who lacks in certain areas and excels in others. How can this skill gap be fixed, or would it be better to shift that individual to a position in the company that highlights their strengths better?  

With data in hand, you can make these decisions more confidently while ensuring you’re not wasting company resources on unnecessary widespread training.

Consider Standardization 

When creating your skills gap analysis strategy, Excel is a great program to use, as it’s easy to store and categorize large amounts of data. Plus, Excel files are easy to share and update. However, even if you don’t choose a 1-5 rating system, a standardized skill measurement will make this spreadsheet easier to navigate and reference later.

This will also make it easier to train new managers on how to conduct tests.  

Getting the Most from a Skills Gap Analysis

Eliminating skills gaps with effective training will help your company keep employees longer and prompt higher employee satisfaction, thus higher productivity when you identify signs that your training is working.

Get More from KnowledgeCity

Did you like this article? KnowledgeCity has a wide range of leadership and management courses that can help you become a better communicator and help your business start running better than ever.

Click the link to learn about Quality Awareness in this lesson to ensure your training is effective at garnering customer satisfaction. Or, consider How Ethics Inform Codes of Conduct if you’re having trouble building the right corporate atmosphere.

If you’ve recognized a major problem with skill gaps in your business, then you may have to update your training delivery method. Read this free whitepaper, How to Implement a Successful Employee Training Program, to start improving your training today!

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