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Does Your Business Need Inhouse Coaches? (Pros and Cons)

An inhouse coach who is showing the benefits of coaching in the workplace

More and more people are talking about the benefits of bringing coaches - or a coaching mindset - into the workplace. Coaching has developed some hype. But is paying for in-house coaches worth it?

And if so, what’s the best way to go about it?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions and help you decide whether in-house coaches are a good idea for your business.

What is Coaching in the Workplace?

Coaching in the workplace is when a company brings coaches onto the team to offer personalized support to employees (and executives). Coaches help employees develop their skills, improve their performance, and accelerate their career growth. 

Coaches offer constructive feedback to show your team their blind spots, help them set the right goals, hold them accountable for showing up for these goals, and often help employees develop a growth mindset.

As an analogy, let’s think about tennis. 

Nearly all professional tennis players have a coach. They also likely have a manager and sponsors who are counting on them to play well. So why would someone who’s already one of the best in the world, with a manager and a number of other supports, need a coach?

The coach helps the player perfect their technique, analyze past matches, and build their mental confidence. A coach can take a player from great to masterful and unlock their full potential.

The same idea applies to workplace coaches. Whether they are helping executives or new hires, coaches can help employees unlock their full potential in a way that their direct managers may not be able to do.

What Are the Benefits of Coaching in the Workplace?

Let’s look at some more specific benefits of hiring an in-house coach so you can see if it might support your company.

Your employees will enjoy work more

No leader wants their office to be a source of the “Sunday Scaries” for their employees. And coaching can help you avoid that.

Coaches can contribute to a workplace where employees find more meaning and connection, so they want to come to work.  

And there are a few reasons for this.

According to research, an in-house coach can help your employees:

As a result of this, a coach can help your employees feel more engaged.

Coaches are trained to help employees see what they are capable of, and then get there. They create a space for employees to vulnerably reflect on their strengths and their challenges. To think about what they want out of a career. To become a better leader. 

For some employees, this means excelling in their current role, and for others, it means discovering a more resonant career path within the company.

Not to mention, offering coaching to employees is a way to show that you care about their well-being. This is especially important, given that only 21% of employees feel like their employer fully supports their well-being. 

If you want to read more about how to increase employee well-being, check out my LinkedIn post here.

Coaches can help employees feel more purpose, direction, motivation, and work-life balance. Plus, it helps them feel like you care about them. And this is the perfect recipe for job satisfaction.

Your employees will stick around longer

Companies who invest in their employee’s development see 58% higher retention.

Hiring in-house coaches is one of the clearest (and most effective) ways to communicate to your team: “We care about you. And we care about your development.”

The top reason American workers leave their jobs is because of pay. This isn’t too surprising.

However the second most common reason is that there are no opportunities for advancement. And the third reason is that they feel disrespected. 

Bringing in in-house coaches directly targets the second and third causes of quitting—coaches can help employees find ways to advance in the company, and investing in your employee’s development will definitely help them feel respected by you.

If your employees feel like you’re investing in them and their careers, why would they want to go anywhere else?

Your employees will perform better

Coaching won’t just make your employees happier; it’ll also help them do better work.

Let’s look at the research on employee performance. 

Studies suggest that when employees work with a coach, they:

We know that coaching helps employees feel more engaged at work. And when employees feel engaged, they are more productive, less likely to skip work days, and more profitable. 

On top of all this, coaches can assess each employee’s specific skill gaps, and then either teach these skills or help the employee find training around them. This could be how to create an effective strategy, plan long term, prioritize their workload effectively, or set goals well.  

Your company will communicate better

Another huge benefit of coaching is an upgrade in communication skills.

If you’re in HR, you likely know just how important communication is. 

Think of how healthy, vibrant, and effective your office would be if everyone knew how to: 

  • Clearly share and discuss their expectations with their manager

  • Lead others in a way that empowers them

  • Resolve conflicts with coworkers

  • Learn effective collaboration

  • Provide skillful feedback, and 

  • Maybe even open up vulnerably from time to time 

Any team with these skills would be an all-star team! 

And this is one of the greatest zones of genius for coaches.

If you hire a skillful coach, they will give real-time practice of all of the most essential communication skills.

If communication is a core value for your team, then hiring a coach should be a consideration.

Your culture will feel more trusting

Coaching sessions can be a place for employees to authentically open up about their challenges and explore their ambitions.

These conversations can be vulnerable and profound. 

For many, it can be difficult to find someone at work to share deeply about their difficulties or career direction.

But this type of encouraging and inclusive space is what coaching is all about.

Suppose everyone on your team consistently enters into a non-judgmental, trusting environment with a coach. Over time, this type of communication can ripple into the culture of your team, where people feel more safe opening up and trusting each other.

More trust and more connection will make for a better team.

Retooling and redeploying efforts will become simpler

If your business is changing and you need to shuffle things around, a coach can be very helpful. 

Instead of doing a massive re-hire, a coach can help reorganize the company in close partnership with your leadership team. Like a jigsaw puzzle, they can help match employees' skills and ambitions with departments’ needs. 

If you’re going through a re-org, then it’s ideal to hold onto as many team members as possible instead of rebuilding from scratch. This way you can preserve your hard-built organizational knowledge and save money that would otherwise go into new hires.  

Coaching can help your team perform better

Coaching won’t just help individual employees—it’s likely to boost the whole team’s performance.

Researchers from the Harvard Business Review created a portfolio of companies that invest in employee development and compared it to the S&P 500.

And what’d they find?

The portfolio of companies that invested in personal growth outperformed the S&P 500 by up to 35%!

So what’s going on here—why is it that coaches improve team performance?

Well, if individuals are happier and more productive, and the culture feels more communicative and trusting, the team will do better on the whole.

There’s a good reason why 86% of employees (and 74% of stakeholders) report being “extremely satisfied” with coaching.

Common Concerns About Hiring an Inhouse Coach

The benefits of taking on in-house coaches seem pretty clear. So why wouldn’t every company do it?

Here are a few common concerns.

Will it cost too much?

The main drawback to hiring coaches is the cost.

It costs money to invest in your employees’ development.  

But if you’re willing to commit to being a company that invests in their employee’s career development, then the money you spend on coaching will likely pay itself off.

Nearly 9 in 10 companies who use coaches report that they at least made their investment back from coaching.

Studies suggest that hiring in-house coaches has an average return on investment (ROI) of around 700%. In other words, every $1 spent on a coach saves the company $7 in other costs. One contributor to this high ROI is that coaching increases employee retention—so money spent on coaches means less money spent filling open positions.

If you decide to invest in coaches for your company, it might not pay off right away. But over time, your employees will become more productive and engaged. They’ll stick around longer and feel more invested in the company. As a result, coaching will likely pay for itself over time.  

Will it take employees away from their jobs?

Another common concern is that every hour an employee spends with a coach is an hour they could be spending on their work. 

This is an understandable concern, but people aren’t robots, and time spent away from their desks clarifying their direction can actually help their productivity.

We know that work breaks, meditation, and exercise are all helpful to make workers more productive. Similarly, when a worker takes time to connect with a coach it can rejuvenate them. 

Not to mention there are many employees who anxiously spiral about their career direction, workplace conflicts, or trepedations about how to move forward in the company. A coach can help resolve these issues, and free up all the time and energy spent fretting. This allows employees to focus on their work with clearer direction and more ease. 

What if the coach isn’t skilled?

Another valid concern is what might happen if the coach you hire isn’t very good.

This is a legitimate concern. As with any service-based professional, some coaches will be better than others and will better match what you’re looking for.

Here are your two best bets to figure out if your coach is legit:

  1. Vet them thoroughly. Make sure you talk with any coaches face-to-face before hiring them. You could even pay them to coach you so you can decide first-hand if you feel like they’re a good fit.

  2. Find certified coaches. If you seek out coaches who have been certified by a reputable institution, it’ll up your chances of finding a quality coach. One place to start is the International Association for Career Coaches. 

What if employees are skeptical?

Some employees might feel resistant to company-sponsored coaching.

Maybe they’ve never worked with a coach. Or perhaps they hold a stigma against coaching. Or maybe they believe that getting support for their development makes them weak or will get back to their manager and actually hurt their chances of landing their next promotion.

This challenge is definitely overcomeable. 

And it’s important to address because the more bought-in your team is about coaching, the more they’ll get out of it.

The best ways to deal with people’s resistance to coaching is to:

  • Make sure leadership buys in. If leaders and managers clearly support the idea, it’ll massively help normalize it across the culture.

  • Try a voluntary pilot program. Give a few enthusiastic employees a chance for coaching. And if it works for them, then spread their success stories.

  • Quantify the impact. Find ways to quantify the impact of the coaching so that results are irrefutable. 

  • Teach people about coaching. Explain what coaching is and how it can help people’s personal and professional growth. And mention how Bill Gates, Oprah, Bill Clinton, Serena Williams, and Ray Dalio have all hired life/business coaches!

  • Establish a clear confidentiality clause. If employees know their coach won’t share anything with their manager, it can help people feel more free to open up about their real challenges and concerns.

The 3 Options for Bringing Coaching into Your Workplace

If you want to bring coaching into your corporation, the three main ways are to:

Let’s briefly touch on the main pros and cons of each option.

Hire an in-house coach

This would mean creating a new part-time or full-time role within the company and adding a coach (or several) to your team.

The main pros of this approach:

  • The coach is fully bought into your company and integrated into the culture

  • Employees have greater access to the coach

  • The coach develops long-term relationships with the employees and company

The main cons of this approach:

  • It can be expensive

  • You have to be committed to hiring coaches as part of your team

  • If they become integrated into the company, they may develop biases and play favorites

  • Employees may hesitate to open up because what they share might get back to their manager

  • Employees may view the coach as an extension of the HR team, making it harder for the coach to build the psychological safety a great coaching relationship hinges on

It’s a good bet to go with an in-house coach if your main goals are to deeply integrate coaching into your company culture, provide easy access for employees, and develop long-term coaching relationships.

Contract an external coach or coaches

For this option, you’d find a coach to pay on a per use basis. Either payment per session, or on a month-to-month basis.

The main pros of this approach:

  • This is the most objective and impartial option 

  • Employees can trust third-party coaches more since they aren’t a part of the company

  • You can scale up or down their engagement as needed

  • They can bring in best practices they’re learning at other organizations

The main cons of this approach:

  • They’ll take longer to integrate with company culture and dynamics

  • There may be more logistical challenges in aligning schedules

  • You might not be able to count on them to be a long-term pillar

An external contracted coach is a great pick if your main goals are to easily scale coaching resources up or down and to get an objective outside perspective.

Teach coaching skills to managers and HR

One last approach is to keep your current team but put your managers through coaching training. This way, they can integrate coaching support into their direct reports.

The main pros of this approach:

  • This is the most cost-effective approach

  • This can embed coaching principles into the company culture

  • This also boosts managers' leadership and interpersonal skills

  • Employees report that they prefer managers who know how to coach

The main cons of this approach:

  • Training will take a big chunk of managers’ time

  • Sometimes, employees can benefit from an objective third party to be fully honest (they may tell things to their coach that they wouldn’t feel comfortable sharing with their boss)

  • This isn’t a viable option if you’re seeking executive coaching

  • This won’t provide the same depth of expertise as professional coaches

  • Some managers will be much better (and worse) coaches than others

Consider putting your existing managers and/or HR through a coaching skills training program if your main goals are to be cost-effective, to embed a coaching mindset into your leadership culture, and to enhance managers' interpersonal skills.

If this option appeals to you, here is one great option for training your team in coaching skills.

Takeaways on the Benefits of In-House Coaches

There are lots of benefits to hiring in-house coaches. It tends to make for:

  • More engaged employees

  • Better retention

  • Better performance

  • Improved communication

  • A more trusting culture

And in most cases, hiring coaches is a positive ROI.

If your company values personal development, it might be worth considering hiring in-house coaches for your team.

If you’d like a place to start looking, check out the International Association for Career Coaches. 

And if you’d like to train your existing team, check out this professional training.

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