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Wellbeing coaching and support

Coaching as a tool for sustaining workplace wellbeing for recruits and employees covered by the Equality Act.  The Equality Act 2010 defines disability as a physical or mental impairment that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long-term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities.

Workability Solutions provides the following services under the scope of Access to Work:

  • Advice on recruitment to help your new member of staff to be successful at work;
  • Job coach to help you or your staff in your workplace;
  • Disability awareness training for your staff and colleagues;

To get support applicants must:

  • have a contract of employment
  • be paid at least the National Minimum Wage, or
  • where a customer is going for a job interview or has just started a job and payslips / contracts are not yet available, accept the job offer letter or letter confirming the interview or job start date as evidence

Coaching has an important role to play in building resilience and well-being at work, particularly when employees have a disability or are feeling under pressure.

The link between being happy at work and high productivity is well established, yet if the demanded level of high productivity is unreasonable and unrelenting it has quite the opposite effect, causing increased disenchantment, reduced motivation, absence as a result of stress and ultimately resignation.

Most people are able to deliver high performance in their area of expertise for short or even medium term bursts of output.  Over an extended period, if sustained, this high level of output will cause the performance will drop or the employee will not have recovery time between expected outputs and will burn out.

For someone with high expectations about their own performance, and for high achievers, such as those with high-functioning autism, this is particularly stressful.  

Uncertainty about job security

Anxiety is higher amongst the disabled than other sectors of the working community and especially those with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  

Environmental stress

Long hours cultures are stressful.  Open plan offices which are reputed to give employees better opportunities to build relationships can be noisy and stressful.  

Creating sustainable agenda for well-being at work

The Association for Coaching believes that coaching is a helpful part of an overall well-being strategy.

Personal Values

Autism is a neurological disorder.  Brenda Boyd’s excellent Report from Planet Asperger explains the impact for communication and relationships:

“On planet Asperger humanity has evolved quite differently and some of the scourges of our world which result from human cruelty and deceit are completely unknown. People highly value individuality, space, privacy and freedom from coercion. The phenomenon of group behaviour, such as the tendency to organize into social groups and follow a leader, is virtually absent. This has had a very far-reaching implications. War, for example is completely unknown.

“The inhabitants tend to have a keen sense of fair play. Their laws are based on clear moral standards, although specific regulations can be unduly complicated. Highly developed computer technology facilitates much of the communication. When people come together socially it is usual for a specific reasons, such as when they have a special interest in common. On such occasions small talk is not an important feature.

“Visitors to the planet sometimes feel uncomfortable at the characteristically blunt and direct manner of the natives, but if they can get use to it, they often find it refreshing. For on this planet there is nothing hidden and no pretence. No one is treated in any way differently purely on account of his status. Compliments and insults alike are doled out with complete sincerity and openness and everyone knows exactly where he stands.

“Emotions are expressed with equal openness, which allows them no time to fester. In consequence, there is no room at all for grudges, bitterness, hypocrisy or psychological ‘game playing’.

“Humour on this planet falls into two very distinct categories, neither of which is ever decadent or cruel. The first is an obvious and uncomplicated slapstick humour; the second a very sophisticated humour based on clever word play.

“In every home and on every street corner, special distressing capsules are to be found that help deal with the exceptional sensitivities which are so common. These capsules work by allowing the user complete control over a simulated sensory environment – choosing his own level of light, colour, pressure, noise and so on.

“But perhaps the most special feature of all on Planet Asperger is the great respect given to children and their values. All its inhabitants grow to adulthood without losing some of the more beautiful qualities of childhood – the sense of wonder, uncensored honesty and ability to see moral issues with uncompromising clarity.”

Working with a coach can help people to think through and identify points of tension and take steps to resolve conflict. Strong personal values, when aligned to the business and expressed and harnessed appropriately, can be a tremendous bonus to an employer. However, if these are contrary to the behaviours expected in the workplace, or counter to the culture within which someone is working, then individual and team well-being are at risk.  Clarifying a sense of purpose, personal values and personal goals are often at the heart of Professional Coaching, and the Association for Coaching believes that coaching can provide the conditions to improve mental well-being in the workplace.

Work Life Balance

People with autism often pursue careers in their area of interest.  This means that the boundary between work and the other parts of life can become blurred, especially for someone who has difficulty moving away from their special interest. Education will have focussed on technical or function knowledge, but it is critical for people to be able to identify and balance the needs of self, family and the workplace in a way which is sustainable over the longer term.  Many companies are now offering flexible working as a means of giving people as much choice as possible over their working lives, however this can be stressful to someone who likes clear rules and boundaries, even if they do not take up the offer themselves. They may become obsessed with the hours worked (or not) by colleagues.  Again, working with a coach can offer people an opportunity to think through the best approach to keeping a balance over the demands of varying aspects of life, with someone who is objective and understanding.

Resilience

Resilience can be developed through coaching by helping people to explore their coping strategies and develop new strategies to develop and improve resilience.  

Develop a support plan detailing the steps needed to enter, stay in, or return to, work. Advice on adjustments in the workplace or in working practices can include:

  • Changes to hours of work or a flexible working pattern to accommodate changes in mood and impact of medication;
  • A buddy or a mentor to give extra support and guidance in the workplace, especially when deadlines need to be met;
  • Flexibility when implementing targets or performance measures;
  • Reallocation of certain aspects of job role if they affect the disability, e.g. anxiety or joint pain;
  • Extra time to finish certain aspects of job role;
  • Extra training and development;
  • Regular formalised 1-2-1 meetings to look at concerns;
  • A phased return to work following absences for ill health;
 

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