The Business Case for Coaching
It's hard to deny that business life is a tough environment.
And professional coaching helps people thrive in the workplace in all of three ways.
First, coaching helps people directly to become more effective.
Second, coaching helps people to become more resourceful and resilient.
Third, coaching helps people to be more respectful, supportive, empathetic and compassionate to those around them.
I think the first point, about helping people directly to become more effective, is sufficiently self-evident that a discussion about the business case for improved productivity would be redundant.
Arguably, the second two points could have a greater impact on the bottom line of your organisation, so I'll focus on those.
According to the HSE, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for the majority of days lost to work-related ill health in 2021/22 - 17 million days - and CIPD research shows that stress continues to be one of the main causes of short and long-term absence.
Interestingly, the 2021 CIPD Employee Resilience Review shows that factors such as supportive co-workers and managers are key in protecting people’s resilience.
The CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work survey 2023 illustrates the top six stress factors cited by respondents:
It's interesting to note, however, that all the 556 respondents were HR and L&D professionals so how accurately these results reflect the experience of the total workforce is uncertain.
Nevertheless, the picture is clear!
And while the most important aspect of all this is the effect it has on the quality of life for the individual, we must, however uncomfortable it might be, look at the issue from the perspective of the business. The signs of stress are obviously damaging financially and if we are to understand the business case for coaching we must consider this.
The CIPD cites the following as 'signs of stress':
I'm sure we've all had experience of working with people exhibiting some or all of these and we know first-hand how disruptive they can be - and how much stress that in itself can create.
So if we can help people to:
Then we can see that will not only help to mitigate stress levels for the individual, but that it will also help to reduce the symptoms of stress and, as a consequence, immediately create a lower-stress environment for everybody.
Let's be clear here: there is no shame in being stressed, or in exhibiting the symptoms of stress. All that is simply a natural biological response to the situation.
As employers, there is a duty of care to create working environments that are healthy for people. There is also, I believe, a powerful business case for doing so.
Effective, professional coaching is one of the few ways this can be achieved directly, not only helping people to handle situations more resourcefully and professionally, but also helping leaders, managers and teams to work in a way that means those stressful environments will be less common and less intense.
A natural consequence of all this is, of course, that people will feel more fulfilled in their work, will stay with you longer and your recruitment costs will be slashed!
It's worth saying at this point that effective coaching rests on a foundation of trust and rapport. And while internal coaching from a line manager or from HR might be helpful, the truth is that an external coach will be able to build a deeper relationship than someone overtly on the payroll with an actual or perceived say in a person's annual review, promotion prospects and professional future.
It's also worth saying that while it is extremely valuable to have line managers equipped with coaching skills, it's a big ask to expect them to act as professional coaches for their teams as well as being - their priority - effective line and technical managers.
So not only is there a strong business case for coaching, there is an equally strong argument to support the case for engaging external, independent coaching resources who can bring a wide experience and who are also detached from any resistance caused by internal coaches being, in reality or imagination, driven by internal business agendas rather than the explicit wellbeing of the individual.
Who Can Benefit from Coaching?
Coaching can have a massive beneficial impact for professionals at any stage in their career:
— For early- and mid-career professionals, the focus is on workplace performance coaching.
— For prospective leaders and those new into more senior positions, the focus is on management and leadership coaching.
— And for those facing the challenges of more senior positions, the focus is on executive coaching.
If you want to find out more, please get in touch.