Employment Coaching During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
- All four programs found that it was feasible to provide coaching virtually, identified some benefits and drawbacks, and plan to revert to mostly in-person coaching supplemented with some virtual coaching after the pandemic ends.
- All four programs adapted to changing participant needs during the pandemic.
- Programs also adapted to support their staff, and staff reported feeling supported by these changes.
- Staff reported that programs responded effectively to the pandemic.
- Participants felt that coaching was particularly beneficial during the pandemic.
Employment coaching involves a trained coach working collaboratively with a participant to set personalized employment goals and develop action steps to reach those goals. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most programs provided coaching services through in-person meetings at a program office or participant’s home. The onset of the pandemic, however, upended the normal operation of employment coaching programs. To understand how four employment coaching programs adapted services during the health crisis and how they served participants, Mathematica researchers interviewed 43 coaching staff and 10 coaching program participants. This brief provides on overview of evaluation findings, which can inform how other coaching programs consider offering services that involve close staff–participant interaction, particularly during a public health crisis.