In-company learning and development

Learning and development helps leaders and employees develop sound working practices aligned to organisational goals. It is linked to employee engagement as it enables employees to feel valued and able to grow and develop throughout their careers.

At IES, we have unparalleled expertise and experience, honed over five decades, of researching and evaluating individual and collective learning and development programmes in workplaces across many sectors.

We are thought leaders in proposing practical ways to help organisations decide which development methods to select and where best to deploy them to maximise benefit in developing people now and for the (as yet unknown) future.

Our work on in-company learning and development covers three main areas:

Contact: Alison Carter

Our work in this area

Learning through experience

Experiential learning methods enable structured reflection by individuals or groups of individuals on what they are doing. This is important in preventing a cycle of people operating mindlessly or ‘on auto-pilot’, repeating the same ‘mistakes’ over and over again, resulting in sub-optimal performance.

With our clients, we explore the practicalities and challenges of introducing and embedding initiatives involving experiential learning methods. This includes appreciative enquiry, innovation hubs, shadowing, cross-sector learning sets, networks, book clubs, secondments and, more recently, place-based or issue-based challenges.

Coaching and mentoring often underpin in-company development programmes. We help organisations create and implement workplace coaching and health coaching initiatives for personal career development but also increasingly in support of broader changes in working practices or transformational change goals.


Seeking feedback is the first stage in improving performance, whether it is an individual manager receiving feedback about their effectiveness or an organisation receiving the views of staff.

We have examined different approaches to introducing and embedding feedback, including traditional 360-degree feedback and coaching for individuals or organisation-wide mechanisms such as organisational ‘raids’, peer-to-peer review and challenge processes, open-ears and open-doors feedback mechanisms, and post-project or post-change reviews.

IES can synthesise evidence from the literature and present it for specific in-company practitioner audiences using audit tools, guides, models and visual outputs.  

IES has a particular capability in designing feedback tools. We have produced bespoke self-assessment exercises and scoring sheets for client organisations as inputs into facilitated discussion sessions on several areas:

  • Creating a culture of innovation.

  • Transformational change.

  • Ethical leadership.

  • The compassionate workplace.

  • The line manager as change agent.

  • Team effectiveness.

  • High-involvement change.

  • Introducing an organisational coaching culture.

Clients have access to IES’ own feedback tools, based on extensive IES research, on The Mindful Team and The Engaging Manager.

Evaluation of learning and development strategies and programmes

IES’ knowledge of programme evaluation methodologies is extensive and core to our organisational DNA. We work with companies to evaluate the impact, outcomes and quality of the learning experience, whether programmes are home-grown or bought in. We can co-create or operate as independent evaluators if preferred. We are used to working with a complicated array of stakeholders. Our work is bespoke to the organisational context, using innovative techniques and a wide range of evaluation methodologies:

  • Co-creation of evaluation strategy, resource guides and templates to support in-house evaluation capability.

  • Following programme participants and local system stakeholders after their programme participation to explore benefits through a social return on investment and impact lens.

  • Providing a narrative of change through in-depth, deep-dive impact case studies.

  • Data analysis to compare performance metrics with non-participants.

  • Using Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) to evaluate impact on individuals and the scale and pace of their subsequent work.

  • Provision of on-going feedback during pilot programmes and wider roll-out to ensure provision continually evolves to meet participant and stakeholder needs.

  • Workshops with stakeholders to engage and mobilise around evaluation findings.

  • Calculating return on investment (ROI).

  • Production of course materials (including practical models, guides, exercises and podcasts), based on reviewing the literature on important factors and what works elsewhere.

IES experts

Alison Carter

Stephen Bevan

Amanda Callen

Alison Carter
Principal Research Fellow
Stephen Bevan
Director, Employer Research and Consultancy
Amanda Callen
Principal Research Fellow

Related projects

Evaluation of the NHS Innovation Accelerator
The Health Foundation

Provision of training and development input at health coaching workshops
NHS Health Education England

Review of Mind's Workplace Wellbeing Index diagnostic tool

Evaluation of the Paramedic Pre-Degree Pilot
NHS Health Education England