News story

Heed Dr Julie Smith: boost employee wellbeing with this one solution


Working Transitions’ Industry expert explores how you can retain talent through coaching and how developing line managers' coaching skills benefits the whole organisation.

The industry is operating in tough times - the fallout from Brexit, Covid and the current cost of living crisis continue to weigh heavy on organisations and individuals. While Working Transitions was exhibiting at Learning Live recently, their team was pleased to see some fantastic speakers, including Dr Julie Smith and Gary Neville, tackling what more organisations can do to support emotional well-being among their workforces.

Dr Julie Smith called for organisations to do more than just support individuals to develop resilience on a personal and professional level. She explored misconceptions around resilience; this is not about being invincible; we're human and experience natural fluctuations in our mental state. Organisations can do more to help employees develop tools to overcome struggles - and this education should be open to everyone. Her view that line managers should have the ability to open a conversation with curiosity and not judgement resonated with the audience too.

It was also interesting to hear Gary Neville's viewpoint; he noted that fostering relationships and providing an environment where people want to commit to the business and work together is vital.

Both speakers agreed that you don't need to be a therapist to communicate well with your employees; it's about nurturing the right space, environment and skills to enable supportive conversations. Neville emphasised the importance of managers not shying away from such discussions. Owning decisions and being honest creates a better culture.

This approach aligns with that of Karen Velasco, Associate Consultant, Working Transitions. In her recent thought piece, Karen discussed how coaching can have a powerful impact on employee resilience and retention.

Discover five powerful results of coaching on employee retention.
- Advice from Karen Velasco, Associate Consultant, Working Transitions

In today's competitive business landscape, recruitment has become increasingly challenging. Identifying and attracting the right people is just one of the steps in creating a competitive advantage. Organisations must focus on effective onboarding and engagement to truly maximise the return on investment from successful recruitment and retain their valuable employees. Research consistently shows that line manager capabilities and behaviours play a crucial role in employee retention, with the quality of the manager-employee relationship being a significant influence.

This thought-leadership piece explores the "how" of retaining talent through coaching, emphasising the importance of developing line managers' coaching skills and the potential benefits this up-skilling brings to businesses. We will also explore the potential of outsourcing services, such as onboarding and leadership coaching, as a viable solution to enhance retention efforts.

So, how can coaching impact employee retention?

1) Enhancing line manager capabilities

Line managers hold the key to employee retention. Their ability to foster positive relationships, conduct career discussions, and navigate challenging and sensitive conversations significantly impacts an employee's commitment to the organisation. By investing in line manager training and coaching, organisations can equip their managers with the necessary skills to effectively engage and support their teams.

2) Enhancing employee capabilities

Coaching is a powerful tool for line managers to help develop the capabilities of their teams and create an environment conducive to retention. Leaders can enhance their communication, listening, and feedback skills by incorporating coaching techniques into their management approach. Coaching empowers managers to facilitate the growth and development of their team members, helping them align their aspirations with organisational goals and nurture a sense of belonging.

3) Coaching for effective onboarding

One critical aspect of retention is ensuring a smooth transition for new hires. Effective onboarding sets the stage for employee engagement and long-term commitment. Through coaching, line managers can guide new employees, helping them integrate into the organisation's culture, understand their roles and responsibilities, and establish meaningful connections with colleagues. A well-structured onboarding programme, supported by coaching and mentoring, establishes a foundation for long-term success.

4) Career conversations and challenging discussions

Regular career conversations are vital for employee development and engagement. Line managers with coaching skills can engage in meaningful dialogue with their team members, uncovering aspirations, addressing concerns, and identifying growth opportunities. Additionally, coaching equips managers to handle sensitive discussions, such as performance issues or conflicts, with empathy and professionalism, fostering a culture of trust and openness.

5) Creating an environment of psychological safety

Creating an environment of psychological safety is essential for improving employee retention. When employees feel safe to express their opinions, share their ideas, and take calculated risks without fear of judgment or reprisal, they are more likely to engage with their work and remain committed to the organisation. Managers who embrace coaching will foster psychological safety by actively listening, providing constructive feedback, and encouraging open dialogue.

By adopting a coaching mindset, managers can create a space where employees feel valued, heard, and supported in their professional growth. Through effective coaching conversations, managers can empower employees to explore their potential, learn from failures, and take ownership of their development, ultimately enhancing their sense of belonging and contributing to long-term retention.

Outsourcing coaching services

Developing internal coaching expertise can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process. Organisations that lack the necessary internal capabilities can benefit from outsourcing coaching services to specialised providers like Working Transitions. Working Transitions brings a wealth of experience, frameworks and tools to support organisations in their retention efforts. From tailored onboarding programmes to leadership coaching, leveraging external assistance can enhance the overall employee experience and retention outcomes.

Of course, it can be tempting for organisations to fixate on hitting targets, especially amid current financial pressures. But they should, as Dr Julie Smith correctly identifies, also prioritise the long-term vitality of the organisation. To learn more about building resilience in your organisation with coaching, or the Career Transition and Coaching and Learning workshops available go to

Working Transitions are coaching specialists for people experiencing workplace transition. The truth is everyone needs a coach now and again. So we offer specialist coaching services for every moment of workplace transition from joining to retirement and everything in between. We listen to your priorities and tailor our coaching services to help you deliver successful next steps for your employees and stronger recruitment, engagement and retention for your business.

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Clare Sidebottom
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