|Coaching Can Help Reduce The Stress In Your Life|
By VIRGINIA GALT
Globe & Mail
Saturday, March 12, 2005
As more employers recognize the link between high stress levels and health problems, some are offering a new service to employees: "resiliency coaching."
Such coaching is customized to employees' individual needs, helping them to develop strategies for coping with the various pressures in their lives, said Barbara Jaworski, director of work/life solutions for Toronto-based employee assistance provider FGI.
"For each individual, the [stress] triggers are going to be different," she said in an interview yesterday.
The majority of calls to employee assistance programs are for personal problems, Ms. Jaworski said. But whether an employee's stress is work-related, home-related or a combination of both, his or her performance is going to be affected if the issues are not addressed. A number of recent studies have identified stress-related disorders as a leading cause of employee absence and disability claims. "As an employer, providing flexibility in people's work lives is probably one of the most helpful things you can do to support employees so they can integrate all those things they need to do in their lives," she said.
A growing number of employers are offering flexible work arrangements, personal leaves and other benefits to help employees maintain a healthy balance, she said.
Services such as "resiliency coaching" take that a step further.
Employees do not always have control over their day-to-day workload, and that can be stressful, Ms. Jaworski said. At the same time, they have to handle situations in their personal lives.
Resiliency coaching is, in effect, a combination of lifestyle coaching and career coaching, she said.
The concept -- also known as stress-proofing -- has become a popular employee benefit in the United States and is now catching on in Canada. Staff are not compelled to avail themselves of the service, she added. "They self-select."
Resiliency coaches help employees devise strategies for their specific job situations, but also counsel them on how to take better care of themselves -- are they eating well, exercising enough, spending enough time with their families?
"It isn't suitable for people in dysfunctional relationships. But is suitable for people who have a lot coming at them -- all this stress coming at them at work and at home -- as they try to figure out how to make it all work," Ms. Jaworski said.