Data Analysis

This week I want to take a look at data analysis and the role it plays with L&D.

In short, data analysis involves sorting through massive amounts of unstructured information and deriving key insights from it. These insights are enormously valuable for decision-making in companies of all sizes.

Here’s an overview of how data analysis is done:

  • Define the question or goal behind the analysis: what are you trying to discover?
  • Collect the right data to help answer this question.
  • Perform data cleaning / data wrangling to improve data quality and prepare it for analysis and interpretation – getting data into the right format, getting rid of unnecessary data, correcting spelling mistakes, etc.
  • Manipulate data using Excel or Google Sheets. This may include plotting the data out, creating pivot tables, and so on.
  • Analyse and interpret the data using statistical tools (i.e. finding correlations, trends, outliers, etc.).
  • Present this data in meaningful ways: graphs, visualisations, charts, tables, etc. Data analysts may report their findings to project managers, department heads, and senior-level business executives to help them make decisions and spot patterns and trends.

Identifying learning and development (L&D) needs involves the assessment of employee capabilities alongside an understanding of current or anticipated gaps in knowledge or skills. This analysis can be conducted at the individual, team or organisational level. In any case, the outcomes can identify the appropriate learning provisions required to enable sustained business performance and should be closely aligned to the overall organisation strategy.

By evaluating learning and development programmes, employers are better able to ensure that these initiatives are aligned with their business objectives and overall learning and development strategy.  Effective evaluation of learning requires a working knowledge of learning needs in line with the broader L&D strategy and how L&D programmes support the whole strategy.

Implementing an effective L&D strategy is widely recognised as important to business success, so it is essential to regularly review and assess the se of learning and training programmes in support of such a strategy.

According to the Training Journal, the process for a Training Needs Analysis (TNA) is simple:

  • Identify the types of skills, knowledge and behaviours people need to be effective and committed, then
  • Assess the level of skills, knowledge and behaviours that people have today, then
  • Determine the levels people need to be at; today and in the future, and so:
  • Identify the gaps in skills and knowledge.

Trainers need to be able to prove the return on investment in terms of improved performance, reduced costs, or in this case, the cost of an employment tribunal should the business or its employees fall foul of the law. The only way to be able to prove a return is by collating data inside the business and monitoring what is happening within the industry / world.  This needs to be measured regularly to ensure its effectiveness and value.

Using the data gathered, trainers are able to prioritise needs against business objectives.  You need to consider approaches used:

  • Work analysis / Task Analysis – what are the job requirements?
  • Performance analysis – are employees performing to the establish standard?
  • Training suitable analysis – is training the desired and best solution?
  • Cost benefit analysis – will there be a return on investment?

Data can also come from observations, questionnaires, consultations, interviews, focus groups and work samples.

I recently had to evaluate our HR information to justify a training need on Equality & Diversity. With a number of issues on site, the logs reflected a poor attitude and limited respect and digity amongst teams, there was a poor understanding of when banter became bullying and an increase of comments from people during group activites that were close to being inappropriate.

Having read recent case law on discrimination during people processes, the consequences of not training staff was easily apparent. During group sessions we talked about cases such as Lee v Ashers Baking Company Ltd & Ors (2018), Peter Beardsley of Newcastle United Football Club and Case v Tai Tarian. This gave people the opportunity to disuss their thoughts around the case, the judgement and any similar circumstances they had encountered.

We are developing our apprenticeship programme and introducing a Leadership Programme so preparing material on E&D seemed a basic requirement and a nice introduction into how the business expects its staff to behave.

It is clear from the research I did, that I would not have been able to justify the training or prove its return on investment had we not maintained records over the years to show where the need was. It was also clear that perhaps we need to be looking at a more automated programme. As the business develops, the maintenance of spreadsheets is cumbersome on the team and maybe their time is best spent doing other tasks rather than data entry.

Watch this space to see how we progress over the coming years.

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