Home / Features / The importance of open coaching

The importance of open coaching

Simon Lyle, Managing Director of Randstad RiseSmart UK on how employers can move from the great resignation to the great retention by expanding coaching opportunities beyond the exec level

The turbulence of the talent market dubbed ‘The Great Resignation’ continues and has created a hyper-competitive job market. Job postings outweigh the number of job seekers, and attrition continues to be the statistic of concern. Employers need to change the approach to talent radically and quickly, to retain existing staff, nurture skills and development and open up mobility inside the business. To go from ‘The Great Resignation’ to ‘The Great Retention’, if you will.

Until now, coaching has been reserved in many organisations for current or future leaders, or to develop specific skills for promotion. It’s not been explicitly linked to retention, development, engagement, or career mobility objectives across all employees. But coaching can be the enabler of the conversations that inspire and support the ongoing development, satisfaction, engagement, and performance of individual employees’ careers in all facets.

We wanted to explore if coaching, when offered to all employees (not just high-performers and execs), could help effect important business goals and create a redefinition of work for employees. We surveyed employers and employees at the start of this year on their views around coaching, specifically coaching that is ‘democratised’ for all employees, and combined it with the observations drawn from our experience in helping businesses worldwide with workforce matters.


The right coaching solution not only empowers an organisation’s employees to consider staying, but it enables employers to proactively affect an array of other workforce deliverables such as career development, talent mobility, onboarding effectiveness, and supporting a more inclusive workplace.

Employees we surveyed who are already engaging with coaching appreciate the opportunity, view it as valuable, and hope to continue receiving it. Even those not currently engaged with a coaching program clearly want to receive it – 90 per cent say they would engage with an employer’s coaching program if offered the opportunity to do so. And expectations are running high; three-quarters (75 per cent) of those without a coach, would expect to find it a very or extremely valuable experience if they did.

Previously, it has been about coaches working with select high-performer individuals and executives, helping them develop, but it is cost-prohibitive for it to be rolled out beyond specific groups deemed worthy of investment.


From our research, we have been able to identify there are seven challenges to the wider adoption of coaching. All of them are solvable but need to be acknowledged first before being remedied.

  • Perceptions of privilege – Employees are unaware of what is available to them and view it as being typically limited to the cliques of future. Unfortunately, this lack of inclusivity leaves others feeling left out.
  • Generational distinctions – There is enthusiasm for employer-sponsored coaching among Generation Z (48 per cent of respondents), Young Millennials (41 per cent), and Older Millennials (50 per cent), but this enthusiasm drops off among Generation X (38 per cent) and Baby Boomers (35 per cent). Knowing that the various generations have differing attitudes towards coaching is incredibly important, as is knowing what triggers your audience to engage in coaching.
  • Gender differences – How you deploy coaching for different genders should be considered wisely, as should how you communicate the expected benefits. Subtle differences in approach can determine how someone uses the opportunity and whether it sees them remain in your business or leverage an exit.
  • Uptake and engagement issues – Communicating the value of coaching, its availability, and its continued use were cited as key challenges for businesses. This has a lot to do with internal communications challenges inside major enterprise businesses.
  • Funding matters – Our research among employers certainly shows that funding of coaching is the barrier to a broader reach. Cracking the finance challenge is the major hurdle initially, but by working with a provider that gives you both the flexibility and scalability of payment models and program design, will go a long way to helping your roll out to all employees.
  • Establishing a clear return on investment – The biggest measure is the crossover benefit of increased employee confidence. Then, more subtly, it is increased employee engagement and commitment, and a desire to grow to be a good manager or leader within the organisation.
  • Resourcing variables – Direct managers coaching teams was voted by employees in our report as the top reason for not using the coaching offered by an employer. Certified external coaching was clearly more appealing and was also rated as giving the highest performance too.


The recommendations we make in our report give guidance on the direction to take. Employers should deliver coaching via external coaches at no cost to the employee. Coaching should be led by an employee’s needs rather than those imposed by HR. However, it should have some crossover to support those big-ticket items for the business to get its initial buy-in.

The democratisation of coaching is not only essential but eminently achievable for businesses. Only by aligning the true value of coaching with business goals can organisations begin to unleash worklife possibilities for all employees and move forwards and out of this turbulence.

About Sarah OBeirne

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *