How to get employees engaged

New research shows investing in coaching is a critical first step to driving employee engagement

  • By Abby Tripp Heverin, Communications and Awards Manager, International Coach Federation | Friday, January 8th, 2016

Although employee engagement is on the rise globally, many organisations still struggle to align their business and engagement strategies. According to Aon Hewitt’s 2015 Trends in Global Employee Engagement Report, global engagement is at 62 percent. However, the same study shows employees’ sense of enablement, autonomy and sense of accomplishment are declining, and that only about half of global employees have a favourable view of critical engagement areas, such as employee growth opportunities, reputation and innovation.

For organisations striving to align their business and employee engagement strategies, and close the engagement gap, new research from the International Coach Federation (ICF) and Human Capital Institute (HCI) shows investing in coaching is a critical first step. According to Building a Coaching Culture for Increased Employee Engagement, 60 percent of employees rate themselves as “highly engaged” in organisations with strong coaching cultures (versus 48 percent in organisations without).

Coaching is especially effective among high-potential employees

Key indicators
Building a Coaching Culture for Increased Employee Engagement is the latest product of ICF and HCI’s signature research partnership, exploring the components of strong coaching cultures and how organisations use coaching to achieve strategic objectives. In 2014, ICF and HCI published Building a Coaching Culture, a benchmarking research study based on survey responses from more than 500 human resources, talent development, and learning and development professionals.

This latest iteration of joint research is based on a 20-question survey administered to 340 HR, talent management, and learning and development professionals from around the world. ICF and HCI measured the strength of organisational coaching cultures using a composite index highlighting the critical success factors necessary to develop and environment of effective coaching. An organisation was classified as having a strong coaching culture by earning a score of five or six on this index.

Points were generated for each of the following: strongly agree/agree that employees value coaching; strongly agree/agree that senior executives value coaching; managers/leaders (and/or internal coach practitioners) spend above-average time on weekly coaching activities (19 percent is average for managers, 16 percent is average for coach practitioners); managers/leaders (and/or internal coaches) received accredited coach training; coaching is a fixture in the organisation with a dedicated line item in the budget; and all employees in the organisation have an equal opportunity to receive coaching from a professional coach practitioner.

Among responding organisations to the 2015 study, 15 percent were classified as having a strong coaching culture.

Factors and recommendations
Many factors influence employees’ engagement, but Building a Coaching Culture for Increased Employee Engagement showed organisations that offer coaching report higher engagement levels than they did the previous year across all employee segments. The research revealed coaching is especially effective among high-potential employees. Organisations that offer high-potential employees access to external coach practitioners, internal coach practitioners and mangers/leaders using coaching skills reported engagement increases of 62, 61 and 59 percent respectively within this group.

Key recommendations from the research include: offer coaching to all employees, regardless of age, organisational role and experience level; set up a training track for internal coach practitioners and managers/leaders to participate in continuous, high-quality coach training and coaching education; make coaching a fiscal priority; and measure the impact of coaching on employee engagement and communicate the effectiveness of coaching to key stakeholders along with other available data (e.g. employee and coach feedback, return on investment and return on expectations).

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