Voluntary employee turnover can have a major impact on any kind of business. While the specific cost of replacing an individual employee will vary based on industry and employee role, the price tag of employee turnover can easily exceed thousands of dollars. Estimates from Gallup put the annual cost of voluntary turnover in U.S. businesses at $1 trillion per year.
One solution that some managers have found effective for improving retention is using employee coaching sessions to help guide their teams and drive engagement with work. Increased engagement rates among workers has been tied to reduced turnover, increased productivity, and even higher customer loyalty (partly because engaged workers are more likely to provide a superior sales/service experience—improving customer sentiment towards the organization).
How can coaching sessions affect employee engagement? More importantly, what can you do to make coaching sessions more effective at reducing turnover?
How Employee Coaching Affects Engagement
So, how does coaching relate to employee engagement? While the impact of coaching on employee engagement and retention may vary depending on the style of coaching, the individual employee’s motivations, and even the specific industry. Betterup.com notes that employees who thrive with coaching “lead teams that are 31% more productive, are 1.2X more resilient, and 22% more satisfied with their jobs.”
However, the impact of coaching on employee engagement is often indirect. Employees don’t just sit down with their managers for five minutes and come out of the meeting feeling better about their career and on-the-job motivation.
Instead, the increased engagement some employees display may be a byproduct of the other benefits of employee coaching.
For example, according to the McLean Institute of Coaching, “80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills” as well as gaining “more job and life satisfaction.”
The combined benefits of increased confidence, job satisfaction, and performance can help an employee feel more engaged with their work—making it less likely that they will try to leave on their own.
Coaching Employees for Improved Engagement and Retention
While coaching sessions often involve some element of teaching employees new skills or information, there are other elements to an effective coaching session that go beyond training or basic knowledge management, such as:
- Collecting Employee Feedback. Highly-effective coaches often set aside some time in one-on-one sessions to ask employees what they think about their work environment, work processes, and coworkers. This can help leadership identify potential issues that may be impacting employee morale—especially if multiple people all identify the same issue.
- Recognizing Employee Achievements. When employees go above and beyond to produce results, providing a little recognition can go a long way. Finding ways to incorporate congratulations for employees can help create a positive feedback loop where the employee works hard to gain recognition, achieves great results, and continues to work hard for praise.
- Providing a Safe Place to Practice Skills. If an employee is struggling with exercising a particular skill, coaching sessions can be a great way to let them practice that skill in a safe environment free from consequences. This can build employee confidence and demonstrate support for the employee.
- Connecting Job Activities to Results or a Mission. When coaching an employee, managers have a chance to connect the employee’s work to real-world results, the company’s mission statement, or even the employee’s own values. This can help to keep employees motivated and engaged by showing them that what they do has value.
So, how does all of this translate into more effective employee coaching? Here’s an example of two coaching sessions with two different people to highlight the difference:
Josh works in the call center for a major retail brand that’s been struggling since the advent of online shopping. Turnover in his department has always been high—but recently, the call center has been hemorrhaging agents faster than the company’s recruitment efforts can replace them.
Management is too preoccupied to spend a lot of time on employee development. So, when Josh gets called in for a coaching session once every few months, it basically boils down to “hey, your numbers last week were down, we need you to hit your goals more consistently.” Five minutes after entering the manager’s office, Josh leaves without having any tools or tricks to meet his goals and no motivation to work harder.
After going through the motions for a few months, Josh leaves for a better opportunity somewhere else.
Chris works at a competing brand that sells many of the same kinds of products and services. However, while they hit the same slump as Josh’s employer initially, they eventually recovered. One thing that Chris’ employer did differently was that, instead of backing off of employee coaching to allow managers to focus on other tasks, his employer doubled down on coaching instead—making it a process goal for managers to set aside at least two hours a week for coaching sessions.
They also created and distributed a “coaching sessions best practices playbook with checklist” for managers to reference and ensure they hit all of the critical components of the training session with each employee. So, when Chris’ performance lagged for a bit, he got to sit down with his manager for nearly an hour.
In the coaching session, the manager started with a bit of congratulation for making it several months and for beating the minimum calls made goal before asking Chris what he thought was holding him back from closing the number of deals he needed to make his goals.
As it turns out, a large part of the problem was that the leads Chris was calling simply weren’t interested in the company’s products and would hang up on him almost right away. The cold call list wasn’t very well targeted and full of bad leads—which a review of other call agents’ performance confirmed since their numbers were down, too.
Chris’ manager gives him a few pointers on how to deal with uninterested prospects and when to move on from a call, then reports the leads issue up the chain to marketing. The company switches from the bought list it was using to a different list and does some contact cleanup—removing old prospects who were no longer active.
Shortly afterwards, the sales team sees a marked improvement in sales numbers. Chris’ manager takes in more of the team for coaching over time, collecting feedback that he uses to remove obstacles and improve team morale. Soon enough, the company is recovering from its slump and Chris went on to spend several years successfully selling to more engaged prospects.
Get the Right Employee Engagement and Retention Tools
Coaching employees isn’t always easy—especially if you don’t have the right tools to quickly assess performance, identify ways to improve, and communicate with your team.
Get access to a dynamic coaching platform that combines performance tracking, team communication, learning management, and more into a single resource that you can consult for all your performance management needs. Reach out to C2Perform today to get started!