Could professional coaching be the next 'big thing’?
In the quest to create a great workplace, many organizations consider implementing innovative benefits or "perks". Some of the more creative offerings include pet insurance, backup care for loved ones, unlimited vacation time and quiet rooms for rest during the workday.
Great Benefits and Great Workplaces
Great workplaces can't be created simply by offering great benefits – it takes strong organizational trust and high-quality leaders to become the best of the best. However, it is true that many of the companies named to Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For in America do offer unique benefits and perks. These companies do so because the benefits resonate with their specific employee population. For example, onsite childcare has been offered for decades by Baptist Health South Florida. That makes perfect sense, when you consider the composition of the organization's workforce – a high percentage of parents - and the fact that Baptist Health is in the 24/7/365 healthcare business.
There is, however, an emerging benefit that may prove to be the "next big thing" for many organizations. It's a service that has relevance for employees at every level and in any location, offers a solid ROI to the company and is simple to administer. That next great benefit is professional coaching, sometimes called life coaching.
When delivered by skilled, appropriately trained and qualified individuals, coaching has broad value and offers lasting results. A coach can help an individual develop job-related skills, become more organized, improve interactions with others, make better decisions and much more. Coaching is always positively focused and forward looking; it involves formulating the right goal, creating the right strategies and finding the right way to ensure that improvements are lasting ones. However, a coach is not a therapist and doesn't work with mental health issues or troubled relationships. Internal coaching doesn't take the place of a company EAP; instead coaching is a complement to it.
Internal Coaching for Leaders
In-house coaching for company leaders is already a core component of the leadership development strategy within some great companies. For example, PwC developed a Leadership Coaching Center of Excellence (LC COE) to support the development of PwC professionals and expand skills of current leaders. PwC's LC COE employs a cadre of coaches with proven skills and credentialing from the International Coach Federation. Internal coaching for company leaders at PwC and in other companies that offer leadership coaching is not a remedial process. Instead, it is developmentally focused and generally reserved for those who have demonstrated potential to advance within the organization.
Internal Coaching for Employees
Although coaching for leaders seems to be taking hold, providing coaching services for staff-level employees is not yet commonplace. This offers a wonderful opportunity for companies that want to be at the forefront of the next great workplace benefit. Just think:
- Imagine offering a service that employees could access virtually, at whatever time is best for them. Most coaching takes place by phone or web conference, thus it is readily accessible to any employee.
- Envision providing employees with a "thinking partner" – someone who can help them find their ideal solutions to commonplace life issues, decisions and everyday challenges. Coaches help people create their own actions and as a result, the positive changes are more likely to become lasting ones.
- Consider the benefit that a company could reap if employees became more goal-oriented, positively focused and felt more fulfilled as they developed workable solutions for a wide range of personal or professional challenges.
- Think about how employees and applicants might respond if they were offered a benefit that is useful to anyone, irrespective of family status, age or location. And think of the added value of that benefit when it isn't available at competing organizations.
Could Coaching Be the Next Big Thing?
The notion of coaching as an employee benefit isn't far-fetched. Ceridian LifeWorks, a comprehensive EAP/worklife solution offered by many employers has recently incorporated coaching into its suite of services. No doubt, progressive companies will soon begin to explore how to create their own high-quality in-house coaching services for their employees. Since a knowledgeable and well-trained coach can apply his or her skills in many settings, companies that already use leadership coaches could start to tap those individuals to serve as coaches for the broader employee population.
Coaching is poised to serve a much stronger role in the workplace as employers focus on well-being and on the needs of an increasingly diverse population. Wouldn't it be wonderful if your company could be among the first to provide this next great workplace benefit?
Lillian J. LeBlanc, SPHR, PCC is an Executive Leadership Development Coach at Baptist Health South Florida.