What’s The ROI for Holding One-on-Ones with Your People?

At Atiim, we’ve always hailed the one-on-one meeting for its effectiveness as a strong managerial practice that engages the workforce. Held weekly, brief meetings between managers and each of their associates accomplish a number of objectives: they provide the coaching guidance that employees need to improve their strengths, allow managers to course-correct to proactively prevent any major workplace issues from occurring, aid in career development, and maintain a continuous two-way feedback loop. If you’re using OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a goals management framework, one-on-one meetings also provide an opportunity for managers and associates to discuss weekly progress.

Despite all of the advantages listed above, there’s still one question that every wise executive and manager has about one-on-one meetings: What is the ROI?

Before we discuss the ROI on one-on-one meetings, let’s step back a bit and review something that’s critically important to the conversation: employee engagement.

The Cost of the Disengaged Workforce

A paper on Manager and Employee Meetings compiled by Fulcrum Point Partners sheds light on some startling employee engagement statistics. While we all know by now that the disengaged worker can impact an organization in ways that are hugely detrimental to overall performance and profits, nothing illustrates this concept quite as powerfully as the numbers below:

  • In total, disengaged employees cost companies between $292 and $355 billion per year due to lower productivity (2001 Gallup poll)
  • Companies in the bottom quartile of engagement have 31 – 51% higher turnover rates, 51% more inventory shrinkage, and 62% more workplace accidents than those in the top quartile (2007 Gallup poll)
  • On average, it costs an employer 29 – 46% of an associate’s annual salary to replace him or her, which means that the average organization can be spending up to $27 million annually in turnover costs (Development Dimensions International)

Ultimately, engagement is about much more than keeping your workforce happy. It’s about getting them to stay committed to your company goals and values, and it’s also about keeping them driven so that they’ll consistently contribute discretionary efforts to improve performance and impact results.

The Best Tool to Combat Disengagement

Encouraging your managers to coach their teams is the best available practice you can implement to start engaging your workforce right now. According to the Fulcrum Point Partners document referenced above, Google puts coaching and regular one-on-one employee/manager meetings at the very top of its best practices list. Manager Tools LLC calls it the “single most effective management tool.”

The best way to coach your team, of course, is the one-on-one meeting.

During one-on-ones, managers have the opportunity to connect face-to-face and provide the much-needed encouraging feedback for their teams. Now more than ever, the workforce is driven by feedback. Moreover, not only do your people need to understand what they’re doing right so that they can continue to improve their strengths, but they also require constructive criticism so that they can discontinue any behaviors that aren’t conducive to completing their Objectives.

Because coaching-based one-on-ones have the ability to significantly improve performance while simultaneously making the work experience more pleasurable for the employee, they are a management practice that’s mutually beneficial for the employer and the associate.

Here It Is: The ROI on 1:1 Meetings

Now that we have a little background information to put the advantages of one-on-one meetings into clear perspective, let’s discuss the numbers. While certain variables will impact ROI for one-on-one meetings from one company to the next, a MetrixGlobal LLC study estimated that consistent employee coaching via regular 1:1 meetings produced a 529% ROI. The company also stated that there were significant, albeit less tangible, advantages that they experienced as a result of improved coaching as well. We might guess that these included a healthier company culture, a stronger communication loop, a more aligned workforce, and employees who were happier overall.

The study showed that the ROI can be further increased when you factor in the positive impact that one-on-one meetings has on retention: when considering how these weekly meetings reduce the financial burden of turnover, the total ROI climbs to 788%.

It’s safe to say, then, that one-on-one meetings have one of the highest ROIs of any management practice.

But It’s not that Simple

We’d be happy to tell you that one-on-one meetings alone have the power to transform your business and produce ROIs like the figures shown above. Although we stand by our belief that one-on-one meetings are the most effective management practice of all time, it’s also important to note that they simply can’t be a standalone technique.

In order to have any measurable impact on employee engagement, one-on-one meetings MUST factor into a larger performance management framework. This framework should have a formulaic approach to driving performance and absolutely has to incorporate the following key intentions:

  • Goal Setting Again, you must take a strategic approach to setting goals at the company, team, and individual level so that organizational priorities are aligned and that every contributor is doing work that supports enterprise goals. A goal setting framework such as OKRs can help you create aligned goals and provide support for tracking progress.
  • Coaching We’ve already discussed coaching, but you must find ways to fit it into your overall performance management framework by using one-on-ones to provide timely feedback about goal progress and provide assistance to help remove any roadblocks.
  • Development Planning Strategies During coaching sessions, managers must also identify the ways in which their employees hope to grow within the company. They must then provide the resources to help them do so, and encourage growth opportunities that enable employees to further develop their existing strengths.
  • Praise/Recognition Finally, you must find ways to reward employees when they exceed expectations or continually perform well. Each individual responds to different forms of praise in unique ways – while some may benefit most from private emails thanking them for their contributions, others may prefer more public forms of recognition. A strong manager identifies the ways in which each of his or her employees likes to be recognized and then awards accordingly. Keep in mind that this too can also fit into your one-on-one sessions – even just verbally recognizing associates’ accomplishments during weekly meetings can have a lasting positive impact.

Most importantly, every element of your performance management system – one-on-one meetings included – must be practiced on a continuing basis. Neither one-on-one meetings nor the greater concept of performance management in itself can be approached as an “event;” instead, they are a series of ongoing practices that must be maintained by managers to continually drive engagement, performance, and ultimately, your bottom-line results.

In conclusion, one-on-one meetings have the power to deliver a considerable ROI, but without an effective performance management framework to support them, their efficacy will be greatly diminished.

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

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