Coaching Is the Antidote For the “Great Resignation”

By  |  July 22, 2021, 12:53 PM  |  Techonomy Exclusive


Why some companies have little to fear amidst unprecedented churn.

There’s been a recent flurry of articles covering the “Great Resignation” or “Talent Exodus.” For a number of valid reasons, post-pandemic life has employees on the move in numbers rarely ever seen.

The pain of losing top performers in a white-hot job market will certainly be felt widely, even at leading firms in many industries. But while the “Great Resignation” is largely being covered through a fear-based lens, it’s not as scary as it sounds. That’s because modern retention strategies, like providing coaching for employees, are highly effective at reducing churn and keeping employees engaged.

We want to explain why coaching is an effective antidote for companies navigating a high-turnover job market. As some diligent managers already know, weathering the storm of the “Great Resignation” is not a matter of luck or chance. Rather, it’s about providing employees a new level of support and care.

Relinquishing Pre-Pandemic Retention Strategies

Effective retention strategies must evolve alongside shifting workforce trends. And even some new strategies, like embracing remote work policies permanently, won’t be enough for many companies that want to retain talent.

As we emerge from a global pandemic and continue to work through a nationwide racial reckoning, supporting employees takes on new meaning. Never before has employee wellness been threatened as it has been this past year. Companies that fail to adapt to these fragile circumstances will be hurt by inevitable impending turnover. On the flipside, employers who empathize deeply with the new workplace challenges faced by their employees (and act accordingly) will reap the benefits of holding on to great people.

Coaching Digs Deeper Than Standard Benefits

We are still in the early innings of coaching as a common employee benefit. But in time, it will be viewed less as a luxury and more as a standard perk. That’s because coaching moves the needle on the most common predictors of retention, like employees’ feelings of belonging, engagement, accountability, and fulfillment.

Research shows that increasing employee engagement leads to higher levels of productivity and lower levels of turnover. This was the case at San Francisco-based nonprofit Tides Foundation, where coaching helped uncover areas for massive improvement at the organizational level. With its managers fully supported by one-on-one coaching, Tides saw its turnover rate decline from 35% to nearly 0%. The organization continues to provide coaching to its employees and remains unscathed by any “Great Resignation” pitfalls.

This is not an isolated event. In a 2020 survey of its user base, coaching company, a)plan coaching, revealed the following insights from people it worked with:

Growth, fulfillment, and belonging are the types of deeper-level results needed to retain employees in today’s workforce. A tool like coaching often helps get employees there. The role of a coach is to help people get what they really want out of life and work. By meeting virtually with the same coach on a weekly basis, employees benefit from having someone who is truly in their corner with no ulterior motives.

For organizations considering coaching, it often starts at the executive or management level and diffuses to lower levels of the organization over time. Other firms use coaching as a tool to uncover shortcomings related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). In a context like this, coaching could be offered to all BIPOC employees in an effort to better support them while simultaneously searching for opportunities to improve the greater company culture.

Underrepresented Employees (UREs) Need Extra Support

While coaching helps all types of employees feel more engaged and fulfilled, underrepresented employees (UREs) sometimes need enhanced and nuanced levels of support.

The pandemic was particularly hard on UREs, as research found heightened suicide and anxiety rates, particularly among BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. This, on top of the fact that UREs generally already don’t feel as comfortable, supported, or represented in the workplace.

Given that diversity is proven to lead to better problem solving, and feelings of belonging lead to better engagement, failing to support UREs can severely limit a company’s potential in a way that managers too often miss. Through coaching, such limitations can be revealed, UREs become better supported, and retention improves – even amidst unprecedented levels of churn in the job market.

Don’t Forget: Retention Fuels Recruiting

And let’s not forget about some of the longer-term perks of building a favorable reputation as a good place to work. Great retention catalyzes a positive-feedback loop that causes top candidates to want to work for your company.

Viewed in this light, coaching will help companies seize the moment beyond just retention. It will become a key reason that some companies actually improve the quality of their staff. The talent exodus is bound to favor employers who truly understand how to take care of people.

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