70:20:10 has become a common term and approach used in relation to staff development and workplace training programs. 70:20:10 highlights the varying importance of informal and on the job learning (70%), coaching and mentoring (20%), and formal learning (10%) when developing staff.

DeakinPrime (2013) found that while the concept of 70-20-10 is well known, the way it is implemented varies greatly between organisations. While some organisations use it as a guide for discussing how development can occur on the job, others use it more formally by mirroring the breakdown in the way staff competencies and assessments are conducted.

When DeakinPrime asked a range of organisations what strategies they used to implement learning, using the 70-20-10 breakdown, they received a range of responses.

One Australian firm responded that in relation to formal learning, “10% of learning is from formal programs designed for the acquisition of knowledge or skills through carefully programmed instruction.” This explanation succinctly highlights the place and importance of formal learning in staff development and training programs.

Although formal learning may only account for 10% of the time spent learning, when it is carefully designed, formal learning lays the foundation for the other 90%. Formal training should be used to influence on-the-job and informal learning, ensuring access to information which is accurate and aligns to business goals. The 10% formal training should start the conversations and guide the informal learning components.

Without business-lead formal learning an organisation runs the risk of the informal learning being haphazard, inaccurate and contrary to what is needed to support business goals and objectives. The 90% informal learning is likely to be influenced by personal interests or career aspirations of individuals if it is not carefully fostered. This leads to the question, “Should we be talking about 70-20-10, or 10-20-70?” – It certainly seems a foundation of formal learning needs to come first.


70:20:10 Traditional approach for staff development and workplace training programs.



10:20:70 Focussing on the 10% formal learning as being the foundation for workplace and informal learning.

Learning Bites are a great way to provide the 10% formal learning which can be the foundation for the other areas of learning. The information provided in Leg Up Learning’s modules is very practical in nature, includes a call to action at the end of each module, and includes templates and take away fact sheets, which can be used in the workplace to support informal learning, or used as a guide by coaches and mentors (20%).

When staff are able to access information in short chunks they can integrate the formal learning component into their informal learning, e.g. if encountering a workplace issue around negotiations, a relevant learning module can be accessed (Negotiating skills), and information immediately applied to the practical situation – an effective way to combine informal and formal learning for maximum effect.

While the focus of the modules is often on the ‘learner’, Learning BITES are also great tools for coaches and mentors, who not only benefit from their own learning, but are responsible for managing the professional development of others. Learning BITES such as our ‘Coaching and mentoring’, and ‘Leadership theories’ modules provide the skills for managers to take the lead in the workplace and facilitate the 20% learning for their staff. Learning BITES can also be suggested by a coach or mentor as they assist a staff member to take on new roles and responsibilities.


DeakinPrime (2013). Demystifying 70:20:10. White Paper
Accessed March 2016