CoachHub founder Matti Niebelschütz at the Brooklyn conference (Photos by Alyssa Meadows for From Day One)

A few months ago, the wife of Matti Niebelschütz, the founder and managing director of CoachHub, a global talent-development platform, told him that she felt he was suddenly not very present at home. He was “physically” there, she told him, but not “mentally.”

“When you’re playing with the kids, you’re not really paying attention,” he remembers her saying. “When we go out to eat or when we’re sitting at the breakfast table, you’re sitting with your phone in your hand checking emails.”

Niebelschütz’s wife wanted to know why he’d grown so uncharacteristically disconnected from his family. Whatever the cause, she observed it was also having a negative impact on his disposition. Pulling up recent family photos on her phone for him to see, she said, “Look at you! You look like Grumpy Cat!”

“She was right,” Niebelschütz admitted to the audience at From Day One’s May conference in Brooklyn during his presentation titled, “Helping Employees Thrive: Using Digital Coaching to Transform Employee Well-being.”

As it turned out, Niebelschütz’s wife wasn’t the only one who observed his personality changes. A few days later, a trusted colleague made a similar observation. Ordinarily, Niebelschütz was an “inspiring” figure during meetings, the colleague said, and someone who could be depended upon for a joke to lighten the mood.

“You motivate us and you don’t really get angry quickly,” he remembers the coworker saying on behalf of the other team members. “What’s going on lately? You are not really resilient.”

Niebelschütz values his relationships with his family and colleagues, as well as his friends, so much that it didn’t take any more prodding for him to reflect and consider why his behavior was so different. The culprit, he recognized, was work.

Said Niebelschütz: “There is a great potential within everyone in your organization.”

He’d immersed himself so deeply into what he described as “a big project” with “tight deadlines” that he’d paused sessions with his coach. Seeing that he’d strayed away from a key cog in his well-being practice, he re-engaged with his coach, scheduling sessions with him through Niebelschütz’s own CoachHub app.

“Together, we worked on the issue; he helped me to get back on track,” Niebelschütz said. “My family is happy, my colleagues are happy, and I have to say coaching really changed my life. Maybe it even saved my life.”

Nobody is immune to the effects of stress that can come with work. Not the mailroom employees, nor executives like Niebelschütz. Given all the social turmoil packed on top of whatever might be going on at work for any one person at any particular time, we all need to be aware of the mental health issues of our colleagues today. Among the great challenges of doing so, however, is the hidden nature of many such problems.

Looking Below the Surface

In his talk, Niebelschütz likened people to icebergs, particularly in the context of work. On the surface, we see how a person behaves, communicates and, in a work setting, performs. But we see so little of what is actually guiding all of this behavior. Among other contributing factors, a person’s well-being can be counted among the elements that influence their outer demeanor. (Employees are not robots, after all, Niebelschütz pointed out.)

Investing in employee well-being, Niebelschütz said, can have an outsized, positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Citing the World Health Organization, Niebelschütz said that more than $1 trillion is lost every year, globally, due to decreased worker productivity–a byproduct of burnout, stress, anxiety and other issues. Not only would investment in employee well-being cut into that figure, but, according to additional research, Niebelschütz said that such investment leads to greater worker alignment with company values and goals, as well as the attraction of better talent.

“We see at least a 6x return on investment into all people’s well-being,” Niebelschütz said. “I’m not a finance person, but I feel that 6x is a pretty strong return for doing the right thing.”

Employees who report feeling supported at work repeatedly cite coaching as a reason why, Niebelschütz said, providing survey evidence. Coaching fuels the development of a trusting relationship between an employee and their coach. This allows them to, in tandem, identify the employee’s values, strengths, areas they want to develop, and greater clarity on the resources available to them. The professionally trained coach can also explore the well-being of the employee, Niebelschütz said, what’s going on below the surface, things that most employers might never access on their own.

Exploring “the Greater You”

All this helps the employee “unleash their full potential,” Niebelschütz said. “We have a saying, ‘Explore the Greater You,’” he continued. “There is a great potential within everyone in your organization … and a coach can help your people—especially in difficult times—leverage these resources.”

With the aid of coaching—made more accessible through digital platforms such as CoachHub—employees can enjoy increased self-awareness. Their communication and collaboration skills will be strengthened, too, and there will be better management of conflicts, Niebelschütz said. Furthermore, employees will emerge more resilient and more productive, with a decreased sense of burnout and the emergence of a healthier work-life balance.

“We all know coaching is not therapy,” Niebelschütz clarified. “[But arguably] coaching is even more important for your organization, because working with a coach will help your people to not even have any clinical disabilities that will need psychological treatment.”

In other words, investment in coaching is a proactive step that company leaders can take to get the best out of their employees while also just exhibiting good, human compassion toward the people they depend on most—something this world could certainly use more of.

Editor’s Note: From Day One thanks our partner who sponsored this Thought Leadership Spotlight: CoachHub.

Michael Stahl is a New York City-based freelance journalist, writer, and editor. You can read more of his work at MichaelStahlWrites.com, follow him on Twitter @MichaelRStahl, and order his first book, the autobiography of Major League Baseball pitcher Bartolo Colón, at Abrams Books.