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How a coaching culture can boost employee wellbeing

There is no shortage of programmes, initiatives and approaches that organisations invest in to enhance and support employee wellbeing, but often some fundamental areas that could have just as much, if not more impact are overlooked.

We know from research that some of the biggest contributors to employee wellbeing at work are:

  • Autonomy and control over job role

  • Opportunities for learning and development

  • Recognition for doing a good job

  • Confidence and trust in the leadership

  • Good working relationships

  • Opportunities to give and receive feedback

All of these contributors can be significantly enhanced by building a coaching culture within your organisation.

So what exactly is a coaching culture:

A coaching culture is one where individuals are encouraged to grow, develop and perform through; regular and effective conversations, an emphasis on regular and honest feedback, a focus on self awareness and development, all underpinned by trust.

How can you build a coaching culture within your organisation:

Leaders need to embody the concept - in order for a culture to be truly embedded it has to be filtered down through the leadership with leaders championing this within all areas of the organisation.

Communicate what you are doing and why - to successfully change behaviour and culture individuals need to understand why and what the benefits are. Spend time outlining why this is important, what the value and outcomes are and seek continual feedback.

Up-skill leaders and managers - everyone can play their part in building a coaching culture and it starts with up-skilling those in leadership and management positions so they can build this into how they lead their teams. Key internal coaches and mentors can also be identified within the organisation who can offer guidance, advice and support where needed and act as coaching role models.

Listen - a key part of coaching is to really listen to what individuals are saying and feeling, it is about listening to hear rather than listening to respond. By actively listening and remaining neutral you can build trust, innovative thinking and be part of the learning process.

Encourage great conversations - communication and conversations are essential to building a culture where people can ask questions, seek ways to improve, give and receive feedback and be open and inquisitive. Offer lots of opportunities for collaborative conversations to take place within your teams and organisations.

Ask brilliant questions - coaching relies on being able to ask great questions. Instead of telling members of your team what to do, encourage them to come up with their own solutions and ideas. This builds a culture of valuing others ideas and empowering employees to come up with the answers themselves.

Bring in some external coaches - whilst leaders and managers can build this culture and lead with a coaching approach it can be really beneficial to bring in some external coaching expertise who can offer independent and confidential coaching sessions which can add even more value.

So what are the benefits of a coaching culture:

Typically organisations with a culture of coaching often have high levels of psychological safety which is were people are comfortable expressing and being themselves. Psychological safety is closely linked to higher levels of wellbeing and can positively influence mental health and psychological wellbeing and well as strengthening an employee’s sense of purpose, enhancing job and career happiness and improving employee motivation and engagement.

As well as boosting employee wellbeing, 80% of people who receive coaching report increased self-confidence, and over 70% benefit from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills (Source: ICF 2009).

The benefits to organisations also include improved relationships, more collaboration, innovation, creativity and trust with 86% of companies report that they recouped their investment on coaching and more (source: ICF 2009). Research from O’Connor and Cavanagh term it the “coaching ripple effect” which is linked to improved retention, employee engagement and revenue.

The impact of leaders and managers on the wellbeing of individuals and the broader organisation is significant with leadership style being associated with employee stress and wellbeing. Coaching is one intervention that can drive organisational wide changes in culture and wellbeing and has been shown to improve individual measures of wellbeing.

If you would like to find out more about how we can support you and your organisation to build a coaching culture or about our coaching programmes to support wellbeing, please get in touch on or on 01926 268160.

Gemma Morris, Director of Wellbeing, Next Steps Consulting

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