We live in an era of great change — from the war for talent to the global labor shortage, both of which have impacted our business world. Together, these trends paint a picture of modern work life, where employees look for more from their employers and leave when they’re dissatisfied. Even as the possibility of a recession looms, McKinsey reports that 40% of current employees will consider finding a new job in the next six months. And those who stay may find themselves in the lull of “quiet quitting.” In fact, a recent Gallup survey found that nearly 20% of U.S. employees identify as “actively disengaged” on the job.
While learning and development (L&D) leaders and human resources (HR) professionals scramble to find solutions to some of the biggest employment challenges of our time, the answer may lie in coaching. Let’s unpack how coaching — a scalable and accessible hands-on learning experience — can provide continuous feedback and make a vital difference in employee engagement and performance.
Digital Coaching Places Employee Well-being First
We all know it’s true: Happy employees are more productive. On the other hand, employees who feel undervalued and/or overworked are more likely to fall into absenteeism and exhibit signs of decreased performance. These behaviors can negatively affect productivity and, thus, the bottom line.
Coaching can provide employees with the personal support they need to continuously develop and grow in their careers. Coaching employees can lead to higher employee engagement, retention and workplace satisfaction rates. But what is the reason behind these promising results?
Effective coaches stimulate critical thinking in their learners. The conversational questioning from a coach in a psychologically safe and low-stakes environment can encourage employees to develop soft skills, including time management and leadership acumen, helping them perform at their best. Coaching can also encourage employees to align their personal goals with their career goals, leading them to find purpose in their work.
Continuous coaching can be rewarding because it acts as a forum for constant employee improvement. Instead of attending performance reviews once a quarter, employees can spend time with coaches who provide an ongoing space for timely reflection. This can allow employees to make impactful and immediate changes to their day to day routines, improving employee productivity and morale as a result.
Impactful coaches can also help employees develop stress management skills. When employees are stressed for a prolonged period, they’re more likely to experience burnout, which can negatively impact job performance due to extended sick leave and can ultimately influence their decision to stay within an organization. Coaches can help mitigate stress-related issues by providing employees with a reflective space for self-care and general wellness.
Coaching Ensures a Holistic Approach to DEI
Several organizations have increased their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts over the past decade to foster a more welcoming and transparent work culture. Still, Gartner reports that 36% of DEI leaders feel that their organization hasn’t built a diverse workforce, citing a lack of diverse leadership as their organization’s biggest stumbling block.
Many organizations offer DEI training in response to these calls for heightened workplace awareness. But a “one-and-done” approach to inclusion in the workplace is destined to fail, as it gives employees little to no opportunity to internalize information. Continuous coaching can be an effective alternative to workshops or lunch and learns, since these sessions can be embedded on the job and allow employees to explore new perspectives and world views in a safe environment without piling on additional work.
When coaching is personalized and inclusive, it can provide an essential space for growth and workplace development. After all, employees from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to struggle with self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Continuous coaching can provide a safe forum to provide underrepresented workers with the support they need to get ahead and feel confident in their roles. This is such a critical step toward fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace.
The good news is that it’s never too late — or too early — to jump-start employees’ professional development with one-on-one coaching. I began attending coaching sessions early in my career, and I continue to do so today. The insights I uncover in my sessions continue to impact my career, which is part of the reason why I remain a strong advocate for coaching at all levels of an organization.
As employees search in earnest for work that provides meaning, HR and L&D leaders should consider offering ongoing services that equip employees with the skills to become highly effective and thriving individuals — both on and off the job. These offerings may help combat record high quitting rates, or even reengage disinterested employees. A digital coaching platform may just be the solution learning leaders are looking for during this unparalleled era in people management.