Human interaction wins out over other training formats

Recent studies by Towards Maturity¹ and Impellus² reveal that face-to-face training is still viewed as very important and is the most popular delivery method for formal learning in the majority of organisations. Considering the reliance placed on technology for all aspects of our day-to-day existence and the wide range of opportunities for us to gather knowledge via social media and the internet, these findings reinforce the power and effectiveness of human interaction in learning and development programmes.

The power of face-to-face leadership and management training

In an era when we could expect preferences for training delivery to be evolving, 59% of those surveyed by Impellus in November 2016 said that face-to-face training was very important. This is backed up by the Towards Maturity report published in the same month that states that 56% of training programmes are delivered by face-to-face alone.

The CIPD Employee Outlook Autumn 2016 also reinforces the value of face-to-face training in the chart below. The participants rated ‘instructor-led training delivered off the job’ 86 out of 100 in terms of its usefulness. However, the number who had received this form of training in the last 12 months was low at 12% of the base of 1,817.

Bar chart in green and grey
Chart showing effectiveness of various training formats from CIPD Employee Outlook Autumn 2016

Source: CIPD Employee Outlook Autumn 2016

Key benefits of face-to-face training

Delegates attending open courses run by leadership and management provider, Impellus, regularly comment on the following advantages on this training format:

  • The opportunity to interact with other delegates and gain knowledge from their experiences in different industry sectors and organisations
  • The realisation that my everyday challenges are not unique to me /my organisation
  • Reflection time and space away from my desk /office
  • Learning from the commercial experience and examples provide by the trainers
  • The chance to meet other managers and have helpful discussions over lunch and during the breaks
  • Experiencing a course structure that features a mix of presentations, discussions and working with other delegates in the training room.

Online learning is on the up

Online training is gaining in popularity and represents 22% of all learning programmes according to the Towards Maturity benchmark report.

Compliance training is widely delivered using e-learning with Health & Safety, Induction and IT User Skills being the most popular. Multinational organisations with employees located in various locations are most likely to use online-only training.

Mixing up the two – the blended approach

Forty-one per cent of respondents to the Impellus survey felt that the blended approach to learning and development was best. However, the Towards Maturity report states that only 22% of learning and development programmes are offered in this format, so there is an opportunity here for training providers to adapt their delivery to meet future demand or to incorporate more technology-led training within their face-to-face training.

The expectation is that face-to-face training will decrease in the future in favour of online and blended delivered learning. Whilst technology is enabling a host of different avenues for learning, the value of human interaction cannot be underestimated, particularly when developing interpersonal and communication skills.


¹Towards Maturity Benchmark Report published in November 2016 – participant profile: 600 L&D leaders spread over 55 countries.

²Impellus 2017 Development Survey, November 2016 – 152 UK respondents who were responsible for organising training in a wide range of industry sectors. Read more