Coaching: The Secret to Retaining Top Talent

Figuring out how to retain the best employees remains a top priority for every business owner. This shouldn’t be a surprise: according to a study by the Center for American Progress, the typical cost of turnover is 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary.

Retention has become even more of a hot-button issue as Americans’ attitudes toward changing jobs begin to shift. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers born between 1957 and 1964 held an average of 11.7 jobs between the ages of 18 and 48, staying at each job for around 4.4 years. But a startling trend has emerged among millennials – the oft-maligned generation born roughly between 1980 and 1995. Ninety-one percent of millennials expect to stay in a job for less than three years, and according to a 2016 study by LinkedIn, the average number of companies that Americans work for in the five years after graduating college has nearly doubled over the past 20 years.

In many ways, millennials are a generation at odds with traditional corporate culture. Millennials expect transparency in the workplace — they want to be a part of the decision-making process and are comfortable with the idea of dashing off an email or Slack message directly to the CEO. This is just one of the qualities that can lead to a significant expectation gap between managers and employees. As highly skilled as they may be, millennial employees sometimes don’t meet the standards older managers come to expect in terms of communication and general business practices.

The expectation gap goes both ways, however. Nearly 90 percent of millennials say professional development opportunities are critical when evaluating a job. Essentially, millennials are telling their employers, “If we don’t pass muster, give us the tools to get better.” Employers who fail to provide the support their employees need will soon find themselves on the losing end of the job-hopping trend.

When it comes to bridging the expectation gap, personal business coaching has proven to be an invaluable tool for both managers and their subordinates. Individual coaching in a variety of business practices can help workers substantially increase their productivity, resulting in an ROI of nearly seven times the initial investment. Unlike consulting — which focuses on remedying an immediate problem — coaching helps professionals develop and refine skills that will allow them to confront future challenges more effectively using a clear, level-headed approach.

Allowing employees to take charge of their own professional development with a self-directed approach can further cement the benefits of business coaching. With self-directed learning, the students (in this case, the employees receiving coaching) remain in the driver’s seat. They can learn at their own pace with a coach they’ve personally selected. Since they are responsible for evaluating their own efforts, the focus remains on the process of learning itself, rather than external assessments.

Giving employees control over their own professional development can be tremendously empowering, and this ties into one of the most valuable outcomes of individual business coaching. Beyond helping employees learn new skills, coaching helps improve self-confidence and morale; eighty percent of professionals who received coaching reported an improvement in their self-esteem, and 63 percent saw a positive change in their overall wellness. This makes sense, after all — especially when it comes to millennial employees. When you give people the tools they need to do their jobs better, it follows that they will be happier and more confident at work.

Establishing a company-wide coaching program serves as a vote of confidence in employees. Everyone wants to feel valued — not just millennials — and there’s no better way to demonstrate that than by investing in their professional future. In this case, independent coaching offers a flexibility that traditional management styles (or internal HR departments) simply can’t provide. When a company partners with a platform like Ace-up, employees can find and engage directly with coaches who meet their precise needs, putting the power to grow and improve in their hands.

Forget beer pong Fridays or foosball tables in the office — individualized business coaching gives employees the skills and confidence that make them want to stay with the company. It’s a critical business priority not just for retention, but also for the productivity and growth of the company.

As the old business joke goes: a CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in our employees and then they leave us?”

The CEO responds, “What happens if we don’t — and they stay?”

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