There has been so much in the news lately about mental health and the detrimental effects of stress. One study by the Mental Health Foundation found that a staggering 74% of people in the UK in the last year have felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
Stressed employees do not perform at their best. They are less likely to listen well, be creative, collaborate, take initiative, manage their emotions, learn effectively, sustain focus and concentration…. the list goes on and on.
What can you do to support your staff to minimise the effects of stress on their lives?
There are lots of ways to support a more healthy lifestyle but often stress can instantly be relieved by talking things over.
How can coaching help?
Coaching is essentially a conversation which helps the coachee move forward and find a new perspective.
A skilled coach supports and guides the coachee but refrains from giving advice and never judges. Instead they use powerful questions which challenge the client’s assumptions and helps them discover ways to remove the limits they put on themselves. The coach and coachee are on equal footings – this is different from a mentoring relationship where an expert ‘imparts their wisdom’ to a less experienced person.
In other words, coaching helps employees to help themselves:
- Solve problems
- Make decisions
- Set goals and achieve them
- Improve self-awareness and working relationships
- Improve confidence
- Build resilience
- Think through ideas
- Communicate more clearly
- Take responsibility
Even with the best will in the world, employees often do not get sufficient coaching support from their line managers and workplace mentors.
An open door policy can be really helpful for employees but it can also prove difficult for managers to find the time (and sometimes the inclination) to listen. It can also be all too easy to slip into a dependency relationship where the employee asks for help and managers give “the right answer”. This can ultimately lead to poorly motivated teams who are unable to think for themselves.
Employees can be reluctant to bring problems to their managers’ attention or to admit that they are struggling, especially if there is disagreement within a team. If not addressed, situations like this can result in a culture of gossip and moaning and a breakdown in relations.
An external coach brings the benefits of impartiality, confidentiality and dedicated distraction-free time. Benefits can be immediate. Coachees report leaving sessions feeling lighter, happier and more in control with a clearer idea of how they will move forward. Employers benefit from coachees gaining clarity whether or not the issue is workplace related.
Rather than singling out employees who need coaching, why not offer it as a service on one or two days a month that people can access as and when they need it? Coaching can then be positioned as a tangible benefit which offers the opportunity to support employees who want to reduce stress and to develop and progress.