Survey Reveals Strong Link Between Coaching/Mentoring and Employee Retention

torch dei survey
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Research published by Torch, a leading people development platform that harnesses the power of trusted relationships to fuel employee growth and success,  has highlighted a strong link between the provision of coaching and mentoring and employers’ ability to retain talent. 

The study also found that organizations providing coaching or mentoring are significantly more likely to report providing equitable pay and fair access to promotion opportunities, increasingly important factors in improving employee retention. Specifically, those organizations not currently providing coaching or mentoring are:

  • 63% more likely to struggle with providing equitable pay
  • 58% more likely to have difficulty providing fair access to promotion opportunities
  • 33% more likely to experience retention challenges.

The survey, conducted in June 2022 among more than 500 HR managers across the U.S., explored companies’ progress toward their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals. HR professionals and leaders were surveyed on what they now see as the main factors influencing either their success or underperformance on this front.

The gaps in retention, promotion and equitable pay rates are particularly problematic, with respondents defining their HR and people management top priorities as improving retention (58%), boosting DEI across their workforces (46%) and improving DEI at specific levels within the workforce (40%).

And where DEI is an identified priority, organizational goals currently include expanding mentoring for employees from underrepresented groups (40%), introducing mandatory DEI training for staff (36%), expanding leadership coaching for employees from underrepresented groups (35%), and implementing mandatory diversity recruiting goals (35%).

However, as interest in leadership coaching in particular is growing, organizations are acknowledging and responding to the evolution of HR’s focus on skills, and to employee expectations. Researchers found, for instance, that 46% of organizations are already offering coaching, and a further 40% plan to. The chief reasons being:

  • to help strengthen leadership skills among employees (48%)
  • to help people managers gain the skills needed to better support their direct reports (44%)
  • and to help people managers gain the skills needed to become more inclusive leaders (41%).

Mentoring–matching a junior employee with a more senior guide, either from within or outside of their organization–is also high on the agenda, with 85% of HR managers saying their companies already offered this, or had plans to. Key benefits of such support cited by respondents included:

  • helping employees feel more fulfilled at work by leveraging their full potential and full use of skills (64%)
  • helping employees develop better management and leadership skills (56%)
  • helping employees to stay and progress within the organization (56%).

Surprisingly, the research also highlights a link between the formal monitoring of DEI metrics and self-reported organizational struggles with DEI performance across the board, including pay equity, fair access to promotion opportunities, and talent retention. 

These findings suggest that companies should routinely monitor for DEI outcomes, or risk remaining unaware of disparity across their organization and unable to optimally target leadership development to support wider DEI goals. 

Finally, the research suggests that if you are male, and the higher up the organization you are,  the lower your awareness is of the true DEI picture. The research reveals that executives were more optimistic than managers that all of their organization’s DEI goals had been achieved. In addition, male leaders reported that most of their DEI goals had been achieved, while their female colleagues reported closer to half of their organization’s DEI goals had been achieved.

Commenting on the findings, Elizabeth Weingarten, Head of Behavioral Science Insights at Torch, said: 

“What strikes me about this research is the highlighting of what can be a very overlooked aspect to achieving DEI goals, which is getting organizational alignment on what the problem looks like.  Studies have pointed out that folks from majority groups tend to underestimate DEI problems inside their organizations–tending to think everything is fine, when it really isn’t. This research suggests that’s still happening, despite all of the awareness-raising that has gone on in the past few years around the persistence of these issues inside the workplace. 

“When leaders have insight into what’s happening inside their organizations, this can have a big impact on what gets invested in, and what doesn’t, as well as which DEI problems get solved and which ones don’t.”

  “The survey also reveals that measurement is a key way of understanding the nuance of a problem, as it’s so effective at enabling companies to alter or expand their focus and better manage their progress towards solving it.”

Amy Lavoie, VP, People Success at Torch, said: 

“There are skills and mindsets required to improve DEI that cannot simply be taught in a class. While it’s not surprising to see organizations are still prioritizing mandatory training, I’m pleased to see this research show that investments in mentoring and coaching are now in the top 3 DEI goals. 

“While training is one of the easiest interventions, the effects are short-lived. Real change happens when you provide custom support through trusted relationships with coaches and mentors. 

“Benefits like deeper awareness, skill development through practice and repetition, increased confidence and clarity of communication happen when you have a trusted partner to coach you and hold you accountable.” 

About the survey

The Torch Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Survey was conducted online in June 2022, among 534 HR managers across the U.S.  Topline results presented in the report were weighted to be representative of the overall population of U.S. HR managers, by region, gender and ethnicity. A report with full survey findings is available on the Torch website.

About Torch

​​Torch is the People Development Platform that fuels growth through the power of trusted relationships. By combining coaching, mentoring, and collaborative learning, Torch helps you design, manage, and measure programs that drive the success of your people—and your organization. Leading brands use Torch to develop their employees, create stronger leaders, and improve business results. To learn more about Torch, please visit

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