Training Programs

How to Collect Training Feedback to Improve Employee Development

Woman employee giving two-thumbs up on a video call.

When you plan a training and development program for your organization, you expect it to improve your employees’ skills, productivity, and retention. As a learning and development professional, you will want to consider the effectiveness of said training to determine if it was worth the time and money. To determine whether training was a success you need to gather feedback from your employees.

Why the Lack of Feedback on Training?

Is your organization struggling to get feedback from employees? Just asking for honest feedback probably isn’t going to get you much. Why is this the case? There are two primary reasons why employees don’t provide leaders with feedback – fear and futility.

Fear: Employees may fear that if they were to provide critical feedback, they might get treated differently. Employees worry that if they give their honest opinion, the leader receiving the feedback may take comments too personally. In turn, employees fear that they may get fired or not be considered for a promotion.

Futility: Employees have a mindset that even if they were to give their honest feedback, nothing would change. They feel like their opinion or idea won’t be heard or is useless.

What can your organization do to turn these feelings of fear and futility around?

If you want your employees to be vulnerable, you too must be vulnerable. As the leader, you must go first. Take the first step to show it is safe to speak your mind. This comes down to not expecting others to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.

Some of the best ways to be an example yourself are to:

Share Your Struggles

Model the honesty you’re looking for from your organization’s employees. If you start the conversation with “I’m struggling with…” or “I don’t have all the answers…” you may feel a little vulnerable, and that means this process is working. As a result, you get some of your fears and anxiety off your chest, and an employee may now think “If my leaders are struggling with this… then I guess it’s okay to share what I’m struggling with.”

Play Devil’s Advocate with Yourself

Another way to go first as a leader of the organization is to play devil’s advocate. If you share something, then also share an opposing view to your own opinion to show you are open to feedback and suggestions.  

Commend Vulnerability

If your organization wants more meaningful, honest feedback to be given more frequently, publicly recognize it when you see it. This can be done in any setting. If you’re in a meeting a leader could say, “Thank you for sharing your opinion. It’s important.” This sets the expectation that as leaders you like to see this and will welcome it in the future.

Collecting Overall Employee Feedback

If your company is looking for feedback to help gather information on the overall training program, there are many ways to gather these types of opinions from employees. The following methods are great ways to gather feedback in numerous organizational areas to help identify training and development opportunities.

New employee surveys: The first 90 days on a job are critical. Send a survey to new hires within the first 90 days of employment to learn about their early experience.

Ask questions about how they’re settling in, if they’ve felt welcomed, and if they’re meeting their initial goals, or how their relationship is with their manager.

Employee engagement surveys: These surveys are a great way to collect large amounts of data from your entire workforce. These broad surveys can focus on anything relating to employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. For an engagement survey to be most effective, keep the survey anonymous, and make sure you are taking visible actions to fix the areas that employees identified are an issue.

Pulse Surveys: Pulse surveys are considerably shorter than employee engagement surveys. Typically, between one to five questions. This is an easy way to get a regular pulse on employee satisfaction.

Stay Interviews: Stay interviews are a great tool to gather feedback from employees about why they continue working at the company or why they may be thinking about leaving.

The result of a stay interview is information that the organization can utilize to improve in areas like communication, leadership, and developing their people to ultimately retain top talent.

Review Sites: Employees may feel uncomfortable sharing their thoughts with employers, so they may share them on review sites like Glassdoor or Indeed. It’s important to monitor these sites to find any additional feedback that can be used to address organizational challenges.

Employee-Manager One-on-One: Weekly or monthly individual meetings with the employees on the manager’s team gives the employee a chance to talk with the manager independently and ask questions or bring up any concerns they may have. This helps the manager gather feedback and support their employees. As an L&D professional, keep lines of communication open with managers and ask them to share any feedback with you no matter how small. Chances are if one person is feeling a certain way, more people are too.

Learn more about developing managers’ skills in communication, coaching, and overall leadership in this article.

Exit Interviews: Exit interviews are your last possible way of collecting feedback. Ask departing employees what they thought about their manager, compensation, benefits, team, growth opportunities, leadership, and anything else they would be willing to tell you.

Suggestion Box: Like we said earlier, employees fear retribution from giving honest feedback. A suggestion box allows them to leave anonymous feedback. Physically put the box somewhere where it can easily be accessed, but not someplace where people tend to gather – or create an anonymous form where employees can submit feedback.

Training Surveys

The best way to find out about the quality and effectiveness of your organization’s current training programs is by running a survey asking the right questions. Collecting this type of feedback will inform you of what kind of training you should offer, the effectiveness of the current training, and satisfaction with the style and method of training.

The best time to survey the effectiveness of a training program is quickly after it concludes. Don’t wait more than 24 hours to introduce a survey because you want the training to still be fresh in the employees’ minds.

Examples of Training Survey Questions

Some questions we recommend discovering answers to are:

  1. Was the training engaging?
  2. Did the training teach you something new?
  3. Did you like the style (visual, auditory, reading/writing, kinesthetic) of this training?
  4. How would you change this training for future learners?
  5. Did you like the method (microlearning, instructor-led, mentoring, etc.) of this training?
  6. Are there any additional topics missing that you would still like to learn?
  7. Are there any resources that you think would help reinforce this training?

Tips for Making Training Surveys Effective

Proper employee surveys can help lower employee turnover, improve performance, and boost employee engagement. The following tips can help companies administer effective employee surveys:

Anonymous Surveys: You may get more truthful, honest responses by making surveys anonymous. If employees can answer without any repercussions, they will be more inclined to state how they really feel.

Clear Goals: Goals and objectives for surveys should be tied to specific performance improvements. Goals should also be measurable. With clear goals in mind before the survey is conducted, it streamlines the process post-survey, so that it can be acted upon quickly.

Time: Most of the time the bulk of results come quickly. If possible, administer surveys in a group setting with the time allotted. If this is not possible, distribute the surveys and give a deadline for them to be turned in.

Using Training Technology with Feedback Tools

BizLibrary’s learning platform houses a content library that encourages learners to rate and review individual lessons. This is an easy and helpful way to see which topics employees are interested in. Having a content library with this functionality and being able to sort by rating for a given topic will help show the learning and development team in your organization which styles of training people like best.

Implementing learning reinforcement post-training can help measure the effectiveness of training, or make it better if you are hearing things in the surveys like “I feel like I forgot what I learned within a week.” Content within The BizLibrary Collection includes the option for training reinforcement or “boosts” to collect feedback on whether employees are retaining info or not.

“Boosts” arrive via email to the employee in the days and weeks following the completion of a training course. Boosts include quizzes, surveys, polls, and reflection questions that help your employees recall essential information. The program includes reporting that the employee’s manager can see. As soon as learners opt in to boosted content, dashboards begin to populate learner and team analytics.

Importance of Employee Training Feedback

It is essential to make sure that your organization’s training strategies are effective and well-received by all employees. Here are some examples of how training session feedback can help you.

Ensure Objectives Are Being Met

The main goal of training is to ensure all employees have the proper skills to get the job done. When organizations gather feedback, they can measure whether training is meeting key training objectives. As an example, metrics that training can improve are: productivity, time management, and employee retention.

Identify Areas of Improvement

One of the most important benefits of training feedback is how it can help easily identify areas for future training. By collecting feedback, you will know what changes to make to improve your program’s effectiveness.

Demonstrate the Value of Training

Use the feedback received to demonstrate the value of your training program. Corporate training feedback provides solid data and evidence that clearly show ways the program added value to employees.

Training is all about improving individual learning and in turn, improving your overall business. It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the training you’re conducting. That can be hard to do; but with an intentional approach, you can build data that proves the true value of your program.

We advocate the Kirkpatrick Model, a four-stage model that allows for both qualitative and quantitative data.

View our comprehensive guide on using the Kirkpatrick Model to evaluate your training program:

Training & Development Industry Researcher | Caroline researches and writes about the impacts of employee learning on organizations and individuals. She looks at L&D and HR issues and industry trends and helps them understand how to create better training programs that grow their employees and their business.