Work-related stress has increased in recent years, accounting for many lost work days and absences. How can coaching help?
We all know the feeling of climbing into bed after a hectic day and feeling a sense of relief that the day is over. For some, that may only come after a stress-inducing meeting that has been occupying space in your mind for weeks. For others, it may be more frequent. Some minds may still spark ideas and remember the forgotten bullet points from the to-do list as long as your legs, even in the pitch-black whilst horizontal.
There are some that feel this level of heightened anxiety and stress daily. The 2019/20 Labour Force Survey reported there were 828,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety, which correlates to an estimated 17.9 million working days lost, a significant increase from the prior year. Workplace stress can be a result of several factors, including a greater pressure to perform to meet rising expectations with no increase in job satisfaction. Job satisfaction relates to several factors, including initiation and leadership, challenges, and feedback. This highlights the necessity of effective communication and strong leadership. Many have had to guide and reassure their employees during this period of uncertainty, but they may lack support or a sounding board themselves, where coaching and building a supportive peer network can be an effective and crucial tool.
We know that leadership is important for motivating employees and increasing their job satisfaction level, and this has been clearer than ever this past year. Statista published that 67% of workers reported experiencing higher levels of stress since the COVID-19 outbreak. This statistic may seem unsurprising, but what has been implemented to reduce these stress levels in your workplace?
Many employers ensured they had effective communication channels with their employees, and acknowledged the heightened emotional, mental, and even physical reactions that occurred, and are still occurring, globally. Whilst we can recognise and accept that coaching cannot be the answer to all of our prayers, we can appreciate that coaching can be an extremely useful tool in tackling stress and anxiety in the workplace. Coaching can be effective in helping individuals to identify stressors, find permanent solutions and maintain change.
Studies have reported that coaching has a positive impact on individual performance and skills, wellness, self-improvement, work attitude, and goal-oriented self-regulation, many of which are documented in another blog. By the use powerful questions and active listening, the coach addresses issues and challenges, helping the coachee to develop and change mental, behavioural, emotional, and learning patterns. As a result, the coachee feels confident and empowered to achieve important personal and professional goals. Coaching does require time, and a willingness to dig deep and be positively challenged, but is an investment for the future that vows less stress, more self-confidence, and better interpersonal relations, with fewer conflicts and, therefore, greater efficiency. Coachees in these studies have reported the high positive impact of coaching on their ability to find strategies for coping with stress and difficult situations, such as conflicts and crises. This improved ability to face challenges and stressful situations has a domino effect on improving wellbeing and personal satisfaction. The impact of coaching does not stop with the coachee, it can improve their relationships with the team around them too. The toolkit gained through coaching can contribute to the factors mentioned that can increase job satisfaction for employees.
Levels of stress in the workplace is an inevitable aspect of life as a busy and motivated human being, but it should not cause sickness and great levels of anxiety and depression. In all roles, we should feel supported. Leaders too require direction in navigating the sometimes-bumpy landscape. In school, we have a teacher and in university, we have a lecturer. We could not achieve a PhD without guidance, we could not be the Prime Minister or President without guidance. So, why are we expected to take on the role of being leaders in business by ourselves? Let’s change the narrative.
If you would like to know how Gearing for Growth can help tackle stress and anxiety in your workplace, we would love to hear from you, just get in touch.
If you are experiencing feelings of despair or distress, please call the Samaritans for free, 24-hour confidential support on 116 123.
 Ballesteros-Sánchez, L., Ortiz-Marcos, I. and Rodríguez-Rivero, R. (2019) ‘The Impact of Executive Coaching on Project Managers’ Personal Competencies’, Project Management Journal, 50(3), pp. 306–321 & Ladegard, Gro. (2011) ‘Stress management through workplace coaching: The impact of learning experiences’, Professional Development in Education. 9, pp. 29-43.
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