Human Capital: Critical for Business?

Marc Coenen, Commercial Director, ecoachproMarc Coenen, Commercial Director, ecoachpro
Human capital is in the top 3 priority list of CEOs and HR leaders. Research from Gartner and McKinsey, amongst others, has shown this trend in recent years. However, a crisis situation such as theCOVID-19can turn everything upside down. Budgets are under so much pressure that human capital may not be able to stay afloat either. An expensive mistake or missed opportunity?

To‘ challenge employees to be “more”’, to ‘demonstrate how they will grow personally by developing in-demand skills’ and to ‘connect employees to skill-building opportunities beyond their roles’ are among the Top 5 Priority for HR Leaders according to Gartner. McKinsey's research and reports confirm this picture:‘ CEOs can turn their attention to the two most critical aspects of leading a people-first company: finding, recruiting, developing, and deploying key talent; and ensuring that talent is truly integral to every major strategic decision across the organization. ’Human capital is critical for business.


In times of economic downturn or adversity, like in the current coronavirus crisis, companies instinctively turn to cutting costs. They always do this on the basis of an assessment which is "business critical", discarding projects until only the legally required and financial projects remain. This should guarantee the continuity in the fog of possible costs yet to come. And yet, aren’t people also part of the business critical? Is to stop supporting their growth the right solution here? The typical argument is that it’s too expensive. We believe that it does not directly cost money: it does in terms of absenteeism and loss of productivity.

Rising stress levels

Concerns about the mental resilience of home workers is on the increase. Arecent study by SAP, Qualtrics and Mind Share Partners states that ‘over 40% of people said their mental health has declined since the COVID-19 outbreak. The number of people who describe the stage of their mental health as a 3 or less on a 10-point scale has doubled.’

Recent research by the National Centre for Prevention of Stress and Burnout (NCPSB) in The Netherlands shows an average increase in stress levels of almost 40 percent . ‘With a structural increase of 40 %, you are three to six months away from burnout,' says NCPSB chairman Theo Immers. He warns of potential large-scale loss of working hours due to stress and burnout. ‘That usually happens very unexpectedly’, he says. ‘People who drop out due to stress and burnout do not see that coming.’ In short: loss of production and also the risk of burnout.

On hold or extra effort?

We also see these trends and developments reflected in our own business operations as a blended coaching and leadership development company (combining offline with online coaching).

Don't see support-oriented coaching as a "perk" or a cost, but instead as a way to reduce productivity loss as well as sickness and other staff-related costs

Some of our clients have put their leadership and coaching programs on hold for this year. A few of our customers put their face-to-face coaching on temporary suspension but are letting the online coaching take place. Others are instead opting to put extra effort into staff development, especially in these times. Our coaching and leadership training programmes are throwing light at the current support needs of leaders all over the world. We see the following trends with several of our clients - a large international bank, an agency working in conflict areas and a large international retail organisation:

• Employees are working from home: there is less interpersonal direct feedback from their environment and with that, a clear need for human connection.

• Staff members struggle with lack of control and tasks that are changing rapidly: their need for status, certainty and autonomy is threatened in a more heightened way.

• With confinement and remote work, coachees are more inclined to reflect more deeply and consciously practice new behaviours emerging from the coaching.

• Coachees are connecting with their own vulnerability and seeing that in others, finding perspective in “common humanity” and often making peace with issues faster. Many are actively seeking support in being more compassionate with others.

• Coachees appear eager to use the coaching time allocated to them more quickly in these times of the coronavirus.

Support oriented coaching

Our advice? Don't see support-oriented coaching as a "perk" or a cost, but instead as a way to reduce productivity loss as well as sickness and other staff-related costs. Every sector, in some way or the other, has been hit by the coronavirus crisis. In addition to the fact that it is (unintentionally) a time for reflection and rest, you also want your business operations to continue. And human capital is the basis from which you work.

About eCoachPro

At the moment face-to-face coaching can be challenging, even dangerous: there is an online way. At eCoachPro we are experts in this approach. For over ten years we have been training, facilitating and coaching a wide range of audiences online by means of master classes, inspiration sessions, online training and leadership, team and individual coaching. We provide on-time, on demand and highly flexible development support with an associate pool that covers all time zones. Examples of our current coaching themes are:

• Trust management
• Leading teams remotely
• Resilience under pressure
• Navigating uncertain times
• Building a productive relationship at a distance

Our expertise is diverse and robust. Our blended coaching approach accelerates the natural way in which people learn, master skills and realize actual behavioural change. This approach combines the possibilities of the internet with traditional coaching and makes 24/7 coaching possible.
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