How to use training surveys to improve the value of your training

If you’re looking to improve the quality and value of your training and promote better employee engagement overall, a training survey is one tool that can help. Surveys can be challenging to conduct effectively, but when they’re done right, they can help you to acquire a wealth of useful feedback from participants. They’re not the only tactic needed to measure the value of training, but they’re an excellent start—especially when you heed the following best practices.

1. Determine what you hope to learn from training surveys

The main reason for conducting training surveys is obvious: You want to determine how people feel about the value of your training so you can make improvements. But your own inquiries should go deeper than that.

  • What are the specific areas that you want to improve?
  • Do you want to make your training more engaging?
  • Are you noticing problematic skills gaps in your employees?
  • Are you failing to meet your training objectives?

When you understand the problem that you’re trying to solve, you can frame your survey questions accordingly.

2. Determine who to survey

If your company employs a small team, this step might not be essential. But if your company has hundreds of branches, stores and distribution centers, and thousands of employees, you’ll need to determine where to focus your efforts. Are you looking to audit your training effectiveness at a specific location? In a specific job role or department? Or across the board?

For instance, if you operate a chain of grocery stores, you might be wondering if your frontline associates are satisfied with the training on how to deal with difficult customers. In this case, it wouldn’t make as much sense to survey back-of-house employees who don’t deal with customers on a regular basis.

If you’re only concerned with a subset of your employees, make a list of those employees and ensure that the survey goes out to the right people. Otherwise, you may end up with a lot of irrelevant or less useful data.

3. Include both pre-training and post-training surveys

Pre-training questions should focus on trainee expectations.

  • What do you hope to get from this training?
  • What skills are you hoping to develop through this training?
  • What topics do you hope to learn more about during this training?
  • What questions are you hoping to see answered?
  • Do you feel confident in your ability to complete the training successfully?
  • How comfortable do you feel with the topics being covered in the training?
  • How important do you believe these training topics will be to your job role?

The post-training evaluation questions should focus on users’ reactions and feelings.

  • Was the training relevant to you?
  • Was the training system easy to use?
  • Was the content easy to understand?
  • Did the training maintain your interest throughout?
  • What aspects of the training content, if any, weren’t clear?
  • How would you rate the pace of the training?
  • Did the training meet your expectations? Why or why not?
  • What would make these training materials more engaging to you?
  • Do you now feel more comfortable completing assigned tasks?
  • How would you rate the training overall?

In addition to the pre- and post-training survey, you might also consider pre-training and post-training assessments. A pre-training quiz affords you the opportunity to conduct a basic skills assessment and determine where the trainee is most and least proficient. Then you can compare the results to the post-training quiz to measure how much they actually learned.

This information can provide valuable context for your post-training survey questions. For instance, do the trainees’ opinions about the material line up with their actual performance? When you can find the gaps and inconsistencies between your surveys and assessments, you can learn a lot about potential areas for improvement.

One important note: L&D should use surveys as just one small part of their measurement strategy. Employees should not be considered experts in the design of training. You just want to know how they feel about the way they are supported. That information should then be combined with additional data to help you better understand how your training can be improved.

4. Use your survey responses to determine how to improve each training course

Training disengagement can usually be summed up by one or more of the following five issues:

  • The training isn’t relevant enough. Employees are interested in the information that will enable them to do their jobs effectively. While there might be some value in teaching a supermarket cashier how to keep the produce fresh (particularly if you anticipate having to move associates around from time to time), the cashier is less likely to connect with training materials that aren’t pertinent to their role.
  • The training is too long-winded. If you want to encourage maximum engagement and learning retention, you have to consider the limitations in people’s ability to focus for long periods. Cognitive fatigue can set in when people are overloaded with information over a lengthy span of time. Microlearning can prevent this kind of fatigue from setting in. If your training is too long-winded, you can remedy the problem by switching to a microlearning approach where each training session is only 5 to 15 minutes in length.
  • The training is too complicated. If trainees are struggling to understand or keep up with the information, they’re going to lose focus and ultimately tune out. The information must be communicated in a way that’s clear, concise and well organized. Ultimately, it’s about making sure the training is meaningfully challenging but not so complicated that participants struggle to get through it. If your training is too complicated, refer to your LMS reports to determine where users are getting stuck. Then adjust the lessons for clarity.
  • The training isn’t accessible. All training materials should be easy and convenient to access. For digital training materials, you want to ensure that the materials are cloud-based (accessible from any location with web capabilities), mobile-friendly and presented on a clean, easy-to-use interface that loads smoothly.
  • The training doesn’t align with learners’ motivations. You don’t want to provide training just for the sake of training. The training should be presented and optimized in a way that clearly allows each participant to advance their own skills, confidence and opportunities within the workplace. They should see the value as it pertains to their own lives.

By assessing the results of your training surveys, you can determine which of the above problems best apply to your training program. When reviewing your survey responses, look for trends that signify potential areas for improvement. Do a lot of participants feel that the training failed to meet their expectations? Why? Do a disproportionate number of participants feel that the training is poorly paced? Make a list of areas that can be improved based on the feedback you’ve received.

  • If employees are citing poor relevance, you can reevaluate whether the right modules are reaching the right employees—or if the modules themselves need to be updated to better meet the needs of your team.
  • If employees don’t find the training interesting or engaging, consider breaking up the lessons or incorporating game mechanics into your training system.
  • If the training isn’t meeting user expectations, find out why and determine if you should adjust accordingly.

A good learning management system can help you to resolve all of these issues. Take Axonify, for example. We embed surveys within daily training sessions to gauge not only how people feel about specific training programs but how they feel about their ongoing support, such as the provided coaching and reference materials.

Training surveys make for better training programs

While surveys aren’t the only worthwhile measure of your training effectiveness, they are an important tool to have at your disposal. They’re simple to execute, they cost almost nothing and they can provide you with valuable data for your current and future training programs.

Just make sure that when you conduct your surveys, you treat them with the same level of planning and precision that you would give to any serious data-gathering effort.

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