Employee Training: Online Vs. In-Person

Last Updated on November 2, 2022 / Training & Development


We are looking at conducting some employee training.  What are the merits of online training or live in-person training?


We’ve been hearing this question a lot as companies struggle with managing their budgets to get the most value for their employee training.  Online learning, also called e-learning, is often seen as being more economical, but is it as effective as a class attended in person?  In HR speak, the answer is “it depends.”  Online training can be more convenient, in that it eliminates the need for travel, even locally, for training.  Participants can complete training without leaving the premises.  Online learning can be done on demand at the convenience of the trainee.  Participants can also revisit a module or section of the training if review is needed.  This type of training can also allow for smaller segments to be completed at a time to allow the participant to stay focused.

Alternately, in-person allows for more interaction.  If an individual is struggling to understand a concept, in-person training allows for easier questions and response to ensure understanding.  In-person also allows the instructor to incorporate role plays and other exercises to solidify concepts.  Physical interaction remains the best way to learn, communicate, and develop memories.  There is value in the collective interaction among fellow students. Personal interaction with fellow students allows the opportunity for insights and perspectives to be gained.  Face to face trainings allow for the experience to be not only heard, but also experienced with all senses and emotions.

An alternate employee training option is a blend of several types of training.  A program that includes some learning via webinar or e-learning, combined with live training can achieve some of the benefits of both options.

Things to consider when selecting training:

  • Individual learning preferences
  • Topic and structure of the training class
  • Timeliness
  • How technology savvy is the individual? Are they comfortable using technology?
  • Size of the group

For any type of training there are some key elements for success.

  • Ensure that the leadership of the organization and the direct management are committed to employee training—this means allowing the employee time to complete the training undisturbed—whether done in person or electronically.
  • A manager must also follow up with the employee and reinforce the concepts learned, to ensure they are applied and retained.

An article Online Vs. In-Class Success gives additional resources, information, and helpful tips when determining the “right” training delivery method.


Get your Employee Training and Development program off to the right start by asking Strategic HR to help. We have the expertise to conduct a Needs Assessment and/or to recommend training options for your staff. Visit our Training and Development page to learn how we can help you implement a successful training program.