The paper provides a discussion of the second part of the training needs assessment plan that is related to the macro-level needs assessment. The paper presents two questions that should be answered in the context of this assessment. While referring to the questions, appropriate data sources are described in detail. Sources of information determine what methods of data collection can potentially be used in the assessment, and they are listed in the paper. The discussion of the selected data collection methods is also provided to justify the choice of reviews and the focus on the extant data analysis. Also, the paper discusses the predicted findings and gaps, as well as recommendations to address the identified needs.
To organize the data collection process associated with a needs assessment in the most efficient manner, it is relevant to use the Data Collection Plan proposed by Tobey (2005). At the first stage, it is important to organize the collection of data related to the area of business needs. This area is also discussed as the ‘macro’ level (Brown, 2002; Ferreira & Abbad, 2013). The needs assessment that is applied to Anthem Inc. should also be organized using the recommendations provided by Tobey regarding this level. The purpose of this paper is to provide and discuss the questions to be answered in the context of the assessment, discuss data sources, list potential methods of data collection, analyze the selected data collection methods, discuss potential findings, and provide recommendations.
Questions to Be Answered
Anthem Inc. is one of the leading insurance companies in the United States, but changes in the insurance industry stimulate executives to revise their approaches to formulating the business strategy. In this context, it is important to explore how the capacities of employees working in Anthem address the leaders’ expectations and strategic goals. Therefore, the first question to answer is the following one: What problems related to the company’s strategic development should be addressed? The second question aims to focus on the information regarding the company’s strategies and employees’ contribution: How can the company’s strategies be supported with reference to training employees? Table 1 presents the first stage of the Data Collection Plan.
Table 1. Data Collection Plan (Stage 1).
|Data Collection Plan|
|Needs Assessment Stage||Questions to Be Answered||Data Sources||Potential Data Collection Method(s)||Data Collection Method||Potential Findings||Recommendations|
|Stage 1: Business Needs||1. What problems related to the company’s strategic development should be addressed? |
2. How can the company’s strategies be supported concerning training employees?
|Question 1: |
a. Annual reports;
b. Clients’ reviews and complaints; employees’ reviews.
|Question 1: |
a. Extant data (reports, financial statements).
c. Review of resources.
|Question 1: |
a. Extant data;
|Question 1: |
a. Decreased sales;
b. Increased costs;
|Question 1: |
Training in time management, team-building, and communication.
Implementation of specific training programs.
To find answers to the first proposed question, it is necessary to refer to such data sources as annual reports and clients’ reviews and complaints. The reason to use annual reports is in the fact that the information regarding strategies and experienced difficulties is usually included in these documents (Jen-Chia, Tseng-Chang, & Chen, 2012). However, to identify more problems, it is also important to analyze reviews provided by clients and former or current employees. There are many web platforms where clients and employees write reviews and posts describing the company’s weaknesses and strategic problems. To collect data regarding the employees’ training in the context of the company’s strategies, it is necessary to use human resources (HR) data located online.
Potential Data Collection Methods
The information related to the first question can be collected using either qualitative or quantitative data collection methods. While referring to quantitative methods, it is important to focus on the analysis of extant data, such as reports and financial statements (Tobey, 2005). Qualitative methods include interviews and reviews of sources. Interviews make evaluators contact managers and employees to collect the data when reviews require access to databases (Ferreira & Abbad, 2013). To answer the second question, it is possible to use qualitative data collection tools, such as interviews, observation, and reviews. Interviews and observation are appropriate to be used in the company’s settings, and the review of literature allows for saving resources.
Data Collection Methods
For the first question, the analysis of such extant data as the company’s reports is the most appropriate data collection method because it allows for gathering objective quantitative data minimizing the spent time and resources. There is no need to develop data collection tools or compose a survey (Brown, 2002). In addition, the review of the qualitative information is another effective data collection method that is important to find answers to the first question because it provides access to subjective data, but it is more cost-efficient than interviews. The literature review is also selected to answer the second question because an investigator needs to access HR data, but opportunities to organize the face-to-face communication with managers or plan observation sessions in the company are usually limited. From this point, the focus on the sources available online is an appropriate choice for this case.
While searching the information to answer the first question, it is possible to find out that Anthem has problems with addressing the trends in an insurance industry that are associated with decreased sales and increased costs. Therefore, the company can focus on downsizing, and the proportion of customer service representatives and insurance sales agents in the company can change. The information gathered with the help of reviewing HR data can reveal the necessity of more training to be proposed to middle- and low-level employees to increase their productivity, improve their communication skills, and increase job satisfaction.
The recommendations to address the identified gaps can be related to the area of training. The first question can potentially reveal the gap in training customer service representatives and insurance sales agents. Downsizing leads to intensifying the pressure on these employees; therefore, they need to be trained in relation to developing skills in time management, team-building, and communication. The direct response to the training needs that can be identified with the help of the second question is the implementation of more training programs oriented to the needs of customer service representatives and insurance sales agents.
The organization of the training needs assessment is a complex task that is based on the completion of several stages. Stage 1 is associated with the ‘macro’ level or identification of business needs related to the concrete company. To prepare the assessment at this stage, it is necessary to formulate specific questions, analyze the available sources of data, determine the relevance of different data collection methods to provide the answers to the set questions and select the most appropriate data collection tools and approaches. At this stage, it is also possible to predict potential findings and propose certain recommendations to address the determined gaps.
Brown, J. (2002). Training needs assessment: A must for developing an effective training program. Public Personnel Management, 31(4), 569-578.
Ferreira, R. R., & Abbad, G. (2013). Training needs assessment: Where we are and where we should go. Brazilian Administration Review, 10(1), 77-99.
Jen-Chia, C., Tseng-Chang, C., & Chen, K. Y. (2012). The systematic construction and influential factors of training needs assessment. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(24), 3-12.
Tobey, D. (2005). Needs assessment basics. Danvers, MA: ASTD Press.