Stoke City Council has transformed its working culture by training its employees to giving coaching and therapy sessions to their fellow colleagues.

The move was made after the decision was made by council leadership to completely transform the practices of the organisation as local authorities are being faced with increasingly tighter budgets and more responsibility.

Rejected a ‘business as usual’ mentality has forced staff to change their working practices, thinking patterns and their approach to council work.

Three years ago, the council brought in external specialist expertise to train ten staff members on how to provide coaching and therapy sessions to colleagues. Nine of which were selected to become coaches using Neuro Linguistic Programming techniques, while the tenth was selected to undergo a more advanced level of training to become a master practitioner.

Since this move, over 75 members of staff have received coaching from the network. A result of this has seen members of staff who had previously been off work due to anxiety and depression have now returned to employment sooner than expected after receiving the coaching.

Steve Kay, founder of commented:

“Organisations like Stoke-on-Trent city council need to create the right culture in order for their staff to thrive. Far too often, large numbers of staff off on long term sick can cause a downward spiral of negativity which can be very difficult to climb out of. However, with the right leadership training, managers can completely change their approach and empower their teams, creating an environment of trust where people can flourish, grow and take personal responsibility. To achieve a wider vision and individual goals, organisations need to create an environment of trust where people can flourish, grow and take personal responsibility.”

Manager Helen Dos Santos who trained the master practitioner, has changed the lives of many employees since completing her training. Working closely with the human resources team, she has helped those on long-term sick leave integrate back into the work force.

Helen said:

“I know how difficult it can be to juggle a service when staff are ill for any length of time. One referral made to me was a lady who had been off work for five months with depression and who had been seeing a psychiatrist for the last two years. After speaking with her I got to the root cause of her depression, an attack she had experienced some years previously, which had left her feeling unworthy. She came out the meeting immensely focused with even her own psychiatrist amazed at her progress she has made.”

She continues:

“This psychiatrist is now going to explore some NLP training himself to help other patients. Within five weeks of our first session that lady went back to work in a new job having taken longer hours.”

In spring 2014, ongoing changes at the council resulted in a decision to expand the coaching service, with an additional 15 more coaches being trained.

Mary Moran, strategic manager at Stoke-on-Trent city council commented:

“We re-launched our expanded and refocused coaching service in the summer of 2014 we have seen an unprecedented demand for the service. Since I became involved more than 50 members of staff have received coaching and have all given very positive feedback. All our coaches continue to have a day job and yet their passion and enthusiasm for the service is clearly evident.”

She adds:

“The results achieved and the progress made by our coaches is rewarding to see and we are proud to be in a position to support staff at all levels of the organisation regardless of what they are wanting to achieve.”