Nov 21

How to identify learning needs in your team to support staff retention

Posted: 11 November 2021

We know that providing learning and development opportunities is a key component in retaining your staff.

Providing learning and development motivates staff, allows them to develop new skills, feel valued, and progress.

87% of employers we spoke to told us that offering learning and development opportunities improved staff commitment, and employers with a turnover of less than 10% told us that investing in learning and development was one reason they managed to retain staff.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that staff development is expensive and time consuming. However, with better access to blended approaches and more innovative, digital programmes available, training is now more flexible than ever.

So, we know that learning and development is important, but how can you identify learning needs among your team? We’ve put together some guidance to help you.

Identifying the learning needs of staff

Before being able to plan any learning and development, it’s important to identify the needs of staff and recognise potential areas where they might benefit from further training. There are several ways to identify these needs.

Firstly, it’s really important to gain regular feedback from people working across adult social care services and from people accessing services. This includes talking to your staff about where they’re excelling, where they need further support, or new skills and processes they would like to learn to be able to continually improve upon the work they do and the care and support which they provide.

Speaking regularly with other providers and peers across the sector will also allow you to keep on top of new innovations, so that you can ensure your team are up-to-date with best practice and new ways of working.  Seeking feedback from people accessing services, their carers, and loved ones will help you highlight priorities for individuals’ development, and priorities for your team as a whole, as well as highlight where workers are excelling in providing person-centred care and support.

It’s also important to speak to your staff about their aspirations for the future and to set clear targets and objectives to help them get there. Knowing exactly what each team member is working towards will allow both you and them to identify additional learning requirements to support them in achieving their goals, and will help you to keep setting new goals and targets once initial objectives have been met – which means sustaining a motivating and rewarding career journey for your team.

Making sure that a comprehensive job description is created from the outset, which highlights required skills and competencies, will also make it clear what is needed from your staff member and will allow you to identify if any additional support is required.

Planning your learning and development

Once employers have highlighted the learning and development needs of their staff and teams, a plan should be created to ensure a more effective use of budget and resources, as well as to improve the quality of care and support.

We suggest four key steps to effectively plan your learning and development.

§  Conduct a SOAR analysis: a strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results (SOAR) analysis is a way of analysing your strengths and vision for the future, to develop strategic goals. Once you have this information you can begin to complete a skills gap analysis to highlight areas of focus for skills development.


  • Develop a learning plan: through one-to-one supervisions you can develop an individual learning plan for each of your team members. This should take into account mandatory training as well as personal goals.



  • Budget your learning plan: planning learning and development for your team is an investment so take time to plan a budget for this and look into funding options.


Different ways of learning

Depending on the type of learning and development required, a learning provider may be needed to deliver the training to your team. In the first instance we highly recommend that you look for a Skills for Care endorsed provider. These providers have been given our bespoke quality mark for providing high quality learning and development in social care.

Other options for learning could include a senior member of the team delivering an in-house training session, peer mentoring between different colleagues, or self- directed learning.

Evaluating learning

Following any learning and development, it’s important to have an evaluation process in place so that overall effectiveness can be assessed, and future steps can be identified. We offer a simple evaluation template which can be used to do this easily and effectively.

For more support our 'Guide to developing your staff' will help you plan, deliver and evaluate the learning and development you provide for your staff.

Have a look at our #RetainToGain spotlight for more information and resources to help with retaining staff.