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Because the demand from workers has increased, the size of the coaching business is pegged at $12 billion, according to one study. “I think we all agree that we’re underinvesting in how to optimize the largest resource on the balance sheet, which is human capital,” says Will Kohler, a partner at Lightspeed. “If you ask, what do people want out of their workplace environment, one of the top responses is, to be developed, to get better, to develop their skill set.” A study of millennial workers by Deloitte found that people were more likely to stay with a company that encouraged and fostered their leadership potential, and those surveyed also said treating employees well was the most important thing about a company, above ethical behavior. “In just about every company, you don’t have the financial, analytic and technology resources to do cutting-edge work in the people field,” says Laszlo Bock, who spearheaded a data-driven HR push at Google and then left to found Humu. Coaching also may be more favorable given the application of shiny new technological innovations. Coaching services are offered by a variety of firms, including BetterUp, a startup that provides digital executive coaching services. BetterUp says that coaching leads to good returns on investment, at least according to their outcome surveys. Some companies say BetterUp’s services reduced employee stress by 24%, improved performance by up to 26% and, in at least one case, increased retention by 63%. “One of the problems with coaching is that evidence has not been part of it, and measurement has not been core to the experience,” says Gabriella Kellerman, who runs research at BetterUp. If, as a result, productivity increases, people become more inspirational managers of others and people stay in the same job longer, coaching may be worth it in the long run. Anna Blackman, a management professor at James Cook University who studies coaching, says, “Skills that people say they gain from coaching include being a better communicator, understanding interpersonal dynamics within the workplace, better time management, becoming more reflective, understanding where their blind spots are and being more organized.”

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