Thursday, 7 October 2010

Is there ever a more relevant time to coach?

Work related stress is reported to be on the increase, as evidenced by the July 2010 CIPD Employee Outlook survey where 49% of staff have noticed an increase in stress at work as a result of the economic downturn.

The HSE, the regulatory body who oversee workplace health and safety, have recently reported cases where employers have faced significant compensation payouts for failing to identify and prevent stress adequately.

Dame Carol Black, the first National Director for Health and Work at the DoH recently commented "It is in employers' interests to manage stress at work proactively and not just assume all staff are coping, particularly in a tough economic environment where many employees are under pressure to do more with less."

The message from these bodies is loud and clear: organisations need to take action or pay the price of not doing so.

Effective person-centred coaching can make a significant difference to the health and well-being of individuals. Ensuring people have robust coping strategies to face the demands continuously placed upon them, and enabling those with line management responsibility to be aware of and manage the impact of those demands.

However, many managers, and dare we say it - poor coaches, focus on task-centred behaviour which may result in a short-term increase in productivity but does little to change the underlying thinking process that turns work pressure into stress.

Based on what the surveys are telling us, organisations may well need to set aside substantial funds to cover future compensation claims. An alternative is to develop leaders to recognise the signs where pressure turns into stress and build a coaching culture where line managers pro-actively support their people to develop the required coping strategies. This requires an understanding of the true value that can be gained from investing in person-centred coaching. Surely we have a duty of care to raise that understanding so that organisations can avoid paying compensation unnecessarily?