More than 4 million Americans, or 2.9% of the workforce, walked off the job in August. That is a record, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As many as 1 in 4 people are expected to quit their jobs by the time 2021 is over.
It’s not uncommon to see so many resignations given how many open positions exist. What’s different is why.
Holding out for higher wages, government benefits, and the lingering pandemic are all playing a role in The Great Resignation. But economists and researchers are starting to think the biggest factor may be changing attitudes about work and the perception people have about their work.
Working remotely, homeschooling children, and recognizing what work is essential are all new experiences for millions of workers who have decided they can’t go back to the status quo. Business owners are learning they have to do something different to keep workers in place. Essentially, employers need to shape a work experience that earns mutual commitment. What exactly are employers doing to make people want to stay?
Coaching is one way they can support their workforce through turbulent times, invest in the future development of their employees, and help them recraft job roles to fit changing priorities and working arrangements.
As organizations and individuals emerge from lockdowns and remote working, the evidence suggests people want different experiences from their work environment. They are no longer satisfied heading to an office or factory each day, filling out TPS reports, or sitting at a desk for eight hours.
Coaching provides an opportunity for people to explore their purpose. Managers don’t often take the time to explain the “why” behind job roles. Taking the time to explore the “why” — beyond bringing home a paycheck — can help create a deeper connection between an employee and their role, reflecting a growing need for individuals to feel as if they are making a difference.
Coaches can help build connections. They can help an employee look beyond the task they perform each day and see the greater purpose. By providing coaching and growth to employees, the employer-employee relationship matures beyond one that is just transactional to one of mutual commitment. Once individuals have meaning and purpose, they are more likely to be more intrinsically motivated to work. That makes them more likely to stay with that job, and ultimately put in more discretionary hours because they can see the contribution they are making.
Coaching also provides a forum for people to explore different aspects of their work and it opens the door for job crafting or career pathing. This is shaping a job to play to a person’s strengths. Playing to those strengths can provide additional motivation.
You can also create a workplace where people can “play.” Think of skunkworks: Small, loosely organized teams use their time to innovate, working on projects related to their jobs but not specifically assigned to them.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has X, and Facebook has Building 8. These are programs that allow people to innovate. These projects get people “switched on,” and allow them to bring the whole of their motivations and abilities to their work. When people are allowed to work to their potential, they are less likely to jump ship.
While most organizations won’t have the resources to create these growth incubators, coaching is like a microdose at the 1:1 level. Growth and innovation can be unlocked through the right coaching relationship.
Coaching as the New Watercooler
Working from home has stolen some of the therapeutic benefits that come from working in a traditional setting. You no longer have a space like a breakroom or watercooler to talk about your terrible boss. Working from home locks people into an isolated environment.
With a coaching program, people can talk about the well-being challenges they face. It allows for the watercooler conversations they used to have with their colleagues. Only, instead of complaining about a boss without receiving any constructive feedback, you have a trained professional who can offer coping strategies.
Filling the Talent Gap
While coaching will help provide people with the self-reliance and personal skills needed to cope with the changing workplace, there will always be people who need to move because of some external circumstance. Coaching provides a valuable tool for accelerating development to fill gaps in the workforce.
The right coaching partner can provide individuals with the kind of coach who can help key members of a team step into critical roles to continue business operations. At the same time, providing the soft skills to stay grounded and connected with their values.
The pandemic has taught people the importance of having a personal connection. Coaching provides an important touch point for any business that wants to keep its people, regardless of where they work, or fill the gaps that have been created by The Great Resignation.