Employment Coaching: Working with Low-Income Populations to Use Self-Regulation Skills to Achieve Employment Goals

Evaluation of Employment Coaching for TANF and Related Populations, OPRE Report #2019-67
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 30, 2019
Kristen Joyce and Sheena McConnell

Key Findings:

  • Self-regulation skills are important to employment success, but poverty can make it difficult to use self-regulation skills.
  • Employment coaches collaborate with participants to (1) set personalized goals related to employment, (2) develop action plans to meet their goals, and (3) support, motivate, and provide feedback as participants pursue their goals.
  • Coaching is hypothesized to improve employment outcomes by helping participants apply and strengthen their self-regulation skills. This is done by working with a participant to (1) strengthen the participant’s self-regulation skills; (2) reduce factors that could impede the participant’s use of self-regulation skills; and/or (3) match goals, jobs, and services to the participant’s self-regulation abilities.

To learn more about the potential of coaching to help TANF recipients and other low-income people reach economic security, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded a contract to Mathematica and its partners, Abt Associates and MDRC, to evaluate employment coaching interventions. This brief is intended to inform program developers, providers, and policymakers about employment coaching and how it may improve employment outcomes. It focuses on how coaches may help participants use and strengthen self-regulation skills to meet employment goals. It first explains the self-regulation skills that are important for success in the labor market and how poverty and its related stressors can hamper their use. The brief then describes the key elements of coaching and the hypotheses underlying how coaching may improve employment outcomes.