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How to Gather Employee Feedback for Better Workplace Learning

Organizations regularly conduct training and learning activities to help employees develop their skills and perform at a higher level. It makes sense that any corporate training initiative is measured against business goals. But in addition to reporting on learning business metrics, organizations should seek employee feedback.

Employee feedback is important during the design and implementation of every training program. If employees love the training, they’ll tell their co-workers.

The reverse is also true: If employees hate the session, they’ll share their thoughts, too. This has an impact on an employee’s reception of the program and their performance. It could also influence how managers support training.

In a recent Paycom webinar, I spoke on how to take company learning programs from training to thriving. At the end, I was asked a question about getting training feedback. I didn’t have time to answer, so let’s have a deeper conversation here.

Evaluation versus feedback

It’s important to recognize the difference between evaluation and feedback.


Evaluation is a form of judgment. And unless it’s a self-evaluation, it’s usually a judgment of something other than ourselves. An example might be training focused on upselling customers. A manager evaluates its success by studying sales shortly after the training.

Feedback from participants is welcome, but not required. The manager could evaluate the success of the program based on customer receipts alone.


Feedback is information used for improvement. Let’s assume the manager from our earlier example doesn’t observe a noticeable difference in upselling. The manager might solicit feedback from employees to enhance the program.

On the other hand, the manager could see noticeable results and learn participants love the session’s format. The manager might adapt the same format for future training sessions.

The goal isn’t to choose evaluation or feedback; it’s to use both. This allows the organization to gather good information that makes employee training programs stronger, which ultimately improves organizational performance.

5 ways to obtain employee feedback

As your organization designs, delivers and revises workplace learning programs, consider these five opportunities to solicit employee feedback.

1. Pilot groups

Pilot groups help obtain early employee feedback before a training program’s official launch. The key to receiving valuable feedback is to invite both advocates and critics. Not only will this help create buy-in, but some of the harshest feedback can guide us toward a better program overall.

""2. Kirkpatrick Level 1 (reaction)

We’re not going to do a deep dive into Donald L. Kirkpatrick’s four-level model for training course evaluation. (That would be another blog post.) But the first level, reaction, is worth reviewing.

Basically, it involves a participant’s reaction to the learning. If you’re not already conducting surveys, do so to efficiently gather employee feedback. If you are doing a surface-level evaluation, think about including questions like:

  • Do you feel that you can use this learning on the job?
  • What kind of training would like to see?
  • Will what you’ve learned today make your job easier?
  • What did you enjoy most about the training session?

3. Manager one-on-ones

During these regularly scheduled meetings, managers should gauge how employees feel about the training, as well as how it applies to their job. The training team should also meet with managers to get their reaction to the training. This also gives managers a chance to weigh in on the employee response.

4. Skip-level interviews

In skip-level interviews, employees meet with someone above their supervisor (i.e., skipping a level in the org chart). Sometimes these meetings are one-on-one, but they also occur in more casual settings. This is an excellent opportunity to ask employees about their training experiences. It could be an open-ended question like:

  • What kind of training topics interest you?
  • What skills would you like to sharpen?
  • What do you think our current training is missing?

5. Check-ins and follow-up surveys

Employee surveys are a great platform to ask learning-related questions, even beyond initial reactions. During stay interviews, you may ask employees about training they’ve enjoyed at a prior employer that they’d like to see in your organization.

In employee engagement surveys, gather scaled responses through statements like:

  • The organization allows me to learn and develop new skills.
  • My manager encourages and supports my development.
  • I receive the training I need to make my work easier.

And in exit interviews, don’t be afraid to inquire about the quality of your training. After all, this might be where you’ll receive the most candid feedback.

Remember, the questions you ask should entail training delivery methods, training topics and program logistics. There’s usually an ideal way to train, such as through a digital learning experience.
""Regardless, you should adapt to what employees tell you they need. Some might prefer a classroom setting, while others would rather complete training on their phone. You should also inquire about how long they expect their training to be. Maybe they want five-minute microlearnings or more involved sessions over multiple days. You won’t know until you ask!

Use feedback to align learning with goals and performance

Employee feedback helps businesses offer the right training topics using the best methods. Combined, they produce effective learning programs, which help companies improve performance, increase productivity and decrease turnover.

Explore Paycom’s easy-to-use app for HR and payroll to learn how it helps gather feedback, deliver valuable training and more!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

About the author
Author picture, Sharlyn Lauby
Sharlyn Lauby
Sharlyn Lauby, SHRM-SCP, is the president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent. Prior to starting ITM Group, Lauby was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world's largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. She is also well-known for being the author of the HR Bartender blog, which has been recognized as one of the top five blogs read by HR professionals. She is the author of Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success, and her latest book is The Recruiter's Handbook: A Complete Guide for Sourcing, Selecting and Engaging the Best Talent.