Employee flourishing: The application and efficacy of workplace coaching as a methodology for improving mental well-being
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The literature concerning the well-being of the working age population demonstrates that being in good work supports health and mental well-being. However, there is a lack of preventative measures to facilitate this in spite of growing research into the measures and determinants of well-being. This thesis highlights the growing literature on the benefits of coaching and sought to determine the efficacy of workplace coaching as a methodology for improving mental well-being through addressing three key areas identified as gaps within the literature: Does participants’ well-being change as a result of a workplace coaching intervention; What changes to mental well-being occur as a result of workplace coaching; What are the contributing processes and causal mechanisms of workplace coaching?
A critical realist, mixed methods research design was adopted which involved three phases of participants (n=47) who undertook either a coaching/training programme; workplace coaching; or no intervention (control). Analysis of the results demonstrated a significant improvement in the well-being of participants compared to the control group across a number of well-being outcomes, particularly that coaching had a direct positive influence on personal, physical and emotional well-being; resilience and self-efficacy, autonomy and engagement, and it is further suggested that there is a positive relationship between well-being and those working/ volunteering as a coach.
The critical realist methodology enabled a retroductive approach to data analysis and identified the causal mechanisms of coaching. This explained that supportive challenge; listening skills; professional conversation; space; time and location of the coaching were all important factors that contributed towards well-being outcomes. The process of coaching was also identified along with the mediators of coaching (wellbeing recognition; perspective; goal clarity; resilience and self-efficacy; and motivation). Together these findings offer an explanation of the efficacy of coaching for mental well-being outcomes.
Overall, the findings of this thesis make an original contribution to theory, literature and professional practice, in particular that there is a positive link between workplace coaching and mental well-being and that there are specific underlying causal mechanisms which impact on these outcomes. Two coaching models are proposed that can guide evidence-based coaching practice; these identify a coaching process that contributes to well-being outcomes, along with highlighting the underlying causal mechanisms and specified well-being outcomes that may be achieved through coaching.
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