By: Ellen Kocher, MA

This article was previously published by Thrive Global here.

It’s been eight months since millions of employees were sent home from the office. While most are generally satisfied with remote work, loneliness (feelings of being alone, separated, or divided from others) is most often at the top of the list of downsides. The novelty we discovered last spring has worn thin, and the second wave has added on boredom, uncertainty, and frustration. Chronic loneliness can eventually impact all areas of life. An emotional tsunami.

With virus cases on the rise, it seems unlikely that many will be heading back to the office soon. We all know that surfing can be dangerous and riding the emotional second wave of COVID is no exception. The best way for both individuals and organizations to cope is by deciding right now not to surf alone.

Despite drastic cost reductions, nearly half of employers say they’re enhancing healthcare benefits and broadening well-being programs as a result of the pandemic. This means partnering with experts to promote work-life balance, to raise physical and mental health awareness, and to provide emotional support.

Traditional “workplace wellness” has come to an end as employers expand access to virtual health services.  60% of employers  are offering new virtual solutions, like APP access and virtual workouts. About half say they’re promoting healthy nutrition and weight management. However, packaged, off-the-shelf, virtual solutions do not help combat loneliness.

Given the length of our relative “lock-downs”, employee expectations and needs have shifted, revealing increased loneliness in the second wave. Today, employers must focus on initiatives with personalized human interaction that truly inspire and accompany people to be all they can be.

Because of the complexity of loneliness, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to stay socially connected and balanced while physically apart. However, strong evidence backs the effectiveness of Personal Health and Wellness Coaching to do just that and remote coaching appears to be just as effective as face-to-face.

Probably the most convincing reason more and more companies hire personal health coaches for their people is because it improves the bottom line. Health and Wellness Coaching has been shown to increase morale, decrease burnout and improve employee productivity. Research also supports that prople perform better when they are healthier and feel that their employer cares about them.

Here are 10 more reasons to surf with a Health and Wellness Coach:

  1. Health coaching makes people feel good thanks to positive psychology encouraging positive thoughts and self-talk.
  2. Health coaching is highly personalized and never a one-size-fits-all approach.
  3. A health coach is a mentor and guide certified to help people reach their own goals through positive, sustainable lifestyle changes, not quick fixes.
  4. Health coaches break through the fads, understanding the physical, emotional, behavioral, and nutritional lifestyles that promote health and prevent illness.
  5. Health coaches empower individuals to take easy, incremental small steps toward your targets because they understand the science behind behavior and habit change.
  6. Health coaching is holistic so it integrates all domains, such as career, emotions and relationships, that affect lifestyle.
  7. A health coach keeps people motivated and accountable like a personal cheerleader – always there to inspire progress.
  8. Health coaches support change based on the client’s reasons and the client’s terms, which means less resistance and greater likelihood of success.
  9. Working with a health coach helps increase self-awareness and boost
  10. Though clients call the shots, they have a partner with whom to overcome obstacles and avoid loneliness.

Don’t surf alone and don’t let your people drown either. Here are four steps to get you started:

  1. Educate yourself HERE about what coaching is, what it isn’t and what the coaching process entails.
  2. Clarify your objectives by summarizing what you expect to accomplish by partnering with a coach.
  3. Interview at least three coaches. Ask about experience, skills and qualifications and request at least two references. Find questions for interviewing a prospective coach HERE.
  4. Confirm credibility, training, professional memberships and credentials. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is the leading global organization dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high standards, providing independent certification and building a worldwide network of trained coaching professionals.

Coaching is an important relationship, so you need to ensure a personal connection between your organization and the coach as well as between your people and your coach. On-going evaluation of your Health Coaching program can ensure that you are truly supporting your employees surf the 2020+ tsunami. Partnering with a personal health coach is an enriching, life-changing experience that you owe to your organization, your people and maybe even to yourself.