why democratised coaching is the solution to help you win the talent war

Employee retention is the number one issue for HR leaders in 2022 according to our recent research. And, it's not entirely surprising. High attrition can cause all manner of problems for a business, not least delays to projects, low productivity as backfill onboards, and expense. In addition, businesses have a further knock-on effect to contend with when their most talented employees leave for a rival firm. So, can coaching act as the missing link to help supercharge retention strategy for organisations to keep hold of their key talent?

Thanks to the numerous articles on the matter, the Great Resignation is something everyone is familiar with. While there are some outliers, Belgium and New Zealand most notably, what began in the US is now a global trend across the world, even in countries with unique workforce nuances such as Spain, Singapore, and to some degree (with a similar movement) in China

However, most economists will tell you that quitting is usually an expression of optimism. And yet the exits attributed to this movement have happened against a more complex economic backdrop that remains difficult to interpret with confidence.

Pandemic-related factors are involved in why people wish to leave a role, but there's more to it than the quest for a better-balanced life. What's also clear is career health is one important component that is getting people to evaluate their situation. Clearly, employees are looking carefully at their options, and employers who want to keep them need to keep up. 

To address talent losses, organisations should better understand in detail why employees are leaving (e.g., In what ways was career development lacking or inhibited?) and define their plans to address these challenges. It could be via a quarterly or half-yearly employee engagement survey, an ongoing pulse survey, or at the point of leaving, via an exit interview. Utilising these basic components of engagement and feedback, organisations can better diagnose their most significant issues, and invest resources in fixing the problems that appear to be fueling turnover. 

the benefits of a coaching-centric approach

According to a study from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and HCI from 2019, companies with a coaching culture reported higher employee productivity, greater ease in making large-scale change, and better candidate attraction. 

The bottom line for coaching-centric organisations is also clear when it comes to being seen as an employer of choice (77% vs. 49%), profitability (65% vs. 56%) and labour productivity (63% vs. 45%). 

There are of course deeper benefits that arise from an employer adopting a coaching-centric approach, including:

For employees:

  • provides context for career growth and fulfillment – Individuals better understand their skills and competencies in relation to their current and desired roles and instantaneously receive a ranked list of in-demand skills, requisite courses, and alternative role suggestions 
  • promotes more intelligent career decisions – Takes the guesswork out of career decisions through a unique combination of data-driven market outlooks for roles and skills fit, combined with guidance from career coaches and learning experts, to hone the optimal path for each person.
  • future-proofs careers – Enables individuals to strategically plan their career trajectories by combining predictive insights about roles with the skill sets needed to achieve success.
  • shortens time to new opportunities within the organisation – Helps individuals quickly identify needed skills and pursue the best course of action.

For employers:

  • engages individuals through the pursuit of meaningful careers – Individuals can take charge of their careers and be confident that the role and skill-building choices they make will yield optimal, satisfying careers.
  • builds productive, agile, and sustainable workforces – Guides individuals to pursue the highest value roles and skills needed by their employer and to keep up with new skill requirements.
  • reduces talent acquisition costs in the long term – When individuals are continually building the highest-value skills, employers can generate an internal talent pipeline that is better able to meet the demand for new skills and competencies.

coaching addresses multiple HR priorities

HR analyst Josh Bersin has said that the silver lining of the pandemic is that it has taught us that if we don't focus on the 'whole person' at work (wherever that may take place), all the individual HR programs an organisation has won't add up. Often, however, such coaching is only provided to leaders and high-potential employees, leaving the vast majority of employees without the benefits of having an expert to help them with a multitude of challenges they could be experiencing. Such issues might include communication challenges with a manager or colleague, stress and managing workload, finding purpose in work, deciding how to best develop their career, navigating a multitude of HR programs for career development, and determining what skills it makes sense to develop, or how to reach fuller productivity, build relationships remotely or how to establish early wins as a new employee. 

  1. retention: 75% of employee turnover is preventable. Elevate the employee experience by providing employees with tailored guidance when they need it to drive satisfaction, performance, and, ultimately, retention.
  2. engagement: Globally, only 35% of the workforce is engaged. Coaching helps employees feel heard and cared for, set and achieve goals, navigate work challenges, and derive greater meaning, commitment, and enjoyment from work. 
  3. development: Nearly 60% of employees say professional development opportunities would improve company culture. Today that includes skills and advancement, finding meaning and purpose in work, managing communications, and more. Coaching helps each person discover their true north and take charge of their development.
  4. mobility: Employees stay 2X as long at companies that offer internal mobility. Coaching guides employees to expand their mindset about what they can accomplish and provides the guidance and resources to promote optimal career choices and smooth transitions.
  5. inclusion: Over 75% of employees want an inclusive work environment. Coaching provides a psychologically safe space where every single person, including underrepresented employees, can gain insights and skills to grow and thrive in their careers.
  6. onboarding: Increasing the speed of a new employee’s adaptation to a new role and diminishing possible risks that may stifle their ramp time is critical. Onboarding coaching is a structured coaching process during the first 100 days of a new hire to increase performance and productivity.

democratised coaching: coaching for the masses

Our recent worklife coaching report brought to the fore a number of challenges businesses have to address when it comes to coaching. The first issue is the preconceived notion that coaching is exclusively for high-performers, executives and managers, and those in growth areas of the business. Now while this notion is not without its merits - this has largely been the case until recently - it isn’t what employees should understand it to be going forwards.

Coaching is loved by just about everyone who has experienced it or just simply heard about it. And, 93% of those HR leaders surveyed in our report would offer coaching to ALL employees if money or resources were no object. It’s understandable why. Coaching offers an effective, personal approach to supporting a workforce in 2022, and there are direct links to big HR goals like retention, mobility, development, wellbeing, and supporting DEI programmes too. 

Organisations have seen it work with leaders, but as our research shows, they can’t offer it to all employees because it doesn’t scale, and let’s be honest, it costs too much to offer it as it stands. The market is ripe for disruption.

When allowed to span a wider audience, to be democratised, coaching benefits can be felt by many and more business goals can be achieved. Organisations have seen to win the talent war they must better align with workers' desires and values and help them get a better sense of meaning and engagement with the business.

But, what if. What if a coaching vendor with global reach could offer coaching at a price point and in a scalable fashion?

worklife coaching to the fore

I asked a question at the start, and the answer is that coaching can absolutely act as the missing link to help supercharge retention strategies, but it doesn’t stop there. Employee engagement, internal mobility programmes, DEI initiatives, career development, and more all benefit from democratised coaching. This is because it provides a psychologically safe space, unlike a direct manager relationship. Here, employees, including underserved populations, can discuss and resolve workplace issues that might otherwise lead to a lack of engagement or their departure from the organisation. 

There are now a range of services and solutions available all with various benefits and limitations. At RiseSmart we have a proven coaching methodology, accessible technology, and a plethora of online resources to support employees. RiseSmart delivers its worklife coaching solution to an organisation’s employees at any point during their life within the organisation to support their experience at work. Here, you can find out more about how RiseSmart’s worklife coaching solution works. 

All in all, coaching is the business tool that HR has needed for some time, it just didn’t realise it because of the way it had been packaged and sold previously. 

Coaching helps employees thrive, which in turn helps an organisation thrive. With the barriers and challenges around coaching now understood, the technology in place, and the desire there, it is now time to make democratised coaching a reality and for the businesses that utilise it, they will reap the rich rewards and win the talent war.

tim neuhaus

senior vice president singapore & SEA

16 August 2022

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