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The Future of Coaching: Envisioning workplace well-being for a new era

Highlights: Explore the Future of Coaching for Workplace Well-being

  • The impact of trends in talent scarcity, worker agency, and technological advancements call for a fresh perspective on organizational culture and employee wellness.
  • The ICF Thought Leadership Institute’s STEERE framework guides coaches in preparing for this future by methodically examining social, technological, economic, ecological, regulatory, and ethical influences on the future of workplace well-being.
  • The future of coaching can be a catalyst for change through coaching-specific frameworks and futures-thinking scenarios that value well-being along with ethical interactions between humans and AI.

Traditional boundaries of time, space, and hierarchy dissolve in the future workplace, cultivating collaborative environments where innovation flourishes. This transformative experience champions the holistic individual, reimagines the future of workplace well-being, nurtures new leadership styles, and redefines professional well-being. Coaching becomes indispensable as new work models unfold, supporting an enriching and sustainable culture.

Explore the future of workplace well-being:

1. Trends shaping the future of workplace well-being

2. Applying the ICF Thought Leadership Institute STEERE framework

3. Coaching frameworks for fostering well-being

4. Coaching can lead the change: Implications for the future

5. Learn more: Futures thinking in action

A new ecosystem of work is replacing traditional work models. Workers manage multiple career changes while organizations navigate a shrinking global talent pool, giving workers more voice and job options. Recognizing that the workplace needs a new purpose, future-thinking organizations will prioritize inclusive well-being in these work environments. 

Three trends drive this interconnected workplace: the scarcity of talent globally, the empowerment and agency of workers, and the rapid advancements in human-machine technology.

Talent scarcity trend

Influenced by an aging population and global demographic shifts, talent scarcity describes shortages in the talent needed to fill job vacancies.  By 2030, 85 million jobs will go unfilled due to a diminishing pool of younger workers available to succeed the retiring generation. Retention of skilled workers at all age levels is increasingly important for organizations.

Organizations are adapting to talent scarcity by integrating automation, offering more hybrid and remote work, embracing gig economy opportunities, innovating recruitment strategies, and expanding to alternate talent pools. Organizations must create attractive opportunities to boost retention and cultivate a future-ready workforce.

Worker agency trend

The worker agency trend shows that employees exert meaningful influence by managing when, where, and how they do their work. This trend includes a growing preference for work-life balance across all age groups. For instance, two in five individuals aged 55–67 are willing to quit jobs that do not support this balance, a sentiment more pronounced among younger workers.

Worker agency enhances workplace well-being by giving employees more autonomy within their work lives, increasing job satisfaction, and reducing stress. Of note, balancing worker agency with team cohesion in this dynamic workplace ecosystem can be challenging.

Rapid technological advancements trend

The future workplace ecosystem relies on a blended human-machine workforce.

Integrating AI into the workforce ecosystem brings benefits like enhanced efficiency and improved decision-making by merging human ingenuity with machine accuracy. Training for the future workplace fosters adaptability in human-computer interactions rather than adopting new tools. These technological advancements may displace workers, driving demand for reimagined upskilling and reskilling programs. Yet, there is a lack of such training, highlighting the need for organizations to invest in closing the gap

Shrinking demographic trends are driving the trend of talent scarcity and challenging employee retention.

The worker agency trend is transforming power dynamics related to employee well-being in the workplace.

The human-machine workforce of the future will include teams informed by human and artificial intelligence collaboration.

Other factors influencing workplace well-being

The multi-generation office melting pot

Well-being for a multigenerational workforce recognizes different attitudes toward mental health, offering tailored support and flexibility. Managing a multigenerational workforce presents challenges due to varying values, work ethics, communication styles, and priorities. Addressing these differences requires diversifying teams, promoting inclusivity, and normalizing cross-generational mentorship to build a harmonious workplace.

Gen Z is transforming workplace well-being in response to a disruptive working experience. Highly valuing mental health, this generation expects substantial support from the workplace. Consider that 73% of Gen Z workers expect remote work options and are twice as likely to employ freelancers to bridge skills gaps. Over half of Gen Z employees prioritize workforce planning for their future and take personal responsibility for their reskilling needs.

2. Applying the ICF Thought Leadership Institute STEERE framework

Analyzing  the critical social, technological, economic, ecological, regulatory, and ethical influences through the STEERE futures thinking framework provides perspective to help coaches prepare for the future.

Signals of change in workplace well-being

Signals are concrete indicators in the present, providing observers with clues into how the world is shifting towards a new workplace ecosystem.

  1. Talent incubators offer structured talent pathways for professionals. These incubators may address talent scarcity by cultivating clear career development for employees and increasing talent retention.
  2. Employee experience platforms are digital hubs reflecting the growing workplace expectations of independence and adaptability with less reliance on traditional supervisory methods. These platforms use personalization and AI to give employees more influence over their day-to-day work.
  3. Hybrid Intelligence teams combine human skills with generative artificial intelligence on a team. Hybrid intelligence amplifies human capabilities beyond automating tasks. Such teams introduce a new work dynamic between humans and machines.

Talent incubators mitigate talent shortages with clear internal career progression paths.

Employee experience platforms elevate worker autonomy in daily tasks.

Hybrid intelligence teams reshape team collaboration between human skills and machine capabilities.

The benefits and challenges of workplace well-being



3. Coaching frameworks for fostering well-being

Harmonic Leadership: A framework for a workplace that cares

Harmonic Leadership offers a blueprint for fostering resilient, adaptive, and human-centered leadership in the workplace. Integrating the principles of Harmonic Leadership sees employees as individuals with diverse needs and aspirations. The Harmonic Leadership framework identifies leadership roles based on mindful caring, encompassing:

  • Engagers and Encouragers who foster a sense of community and belonging within the organization.
  • Speakers and Doers who connect clear goals with result-oriented teamwork.
  • Observers and Helpers who act as a safety net in fast-paced and uncertain workplaces, ensuring support and assistance when needed.

Coaching can be pivotal in helping leaders adopt and effectively implement these harmonic leadership roles, contributing to a workplace culture that prioritizes well-being.

Ethics of Care and Futures Thinking Wheel of Well-being

The Ethics of Care framework embeds caring as a fundamental competence where worker well-being is an asset that contributes to organizational success by emphasizing mutual growth, ethical decision-making, and reciprocal relationships.

Extending the Ethics of Care principles to incorporate the integration of robots and AI enhances the relational dynamics between humans and machines. This expansion creates a more supportive and ethically grounded work environment where humans and AI contribute positively. Coaches can play a role in guiding organizations in implementing these ethical principles and navigating the evolving landscape of human-machine collaboration in the workplace.

Futures Thinking Wheel of Well-Being: Centering Well-Being around Ethics of Care, the Wheel helps coaches think about domains of well-being including: care for self and others, workplace wellbeing, ecological wellbeing, digital wellbeing, social wellbeing, and existential wellbeing.

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When well-being programs do not work

Critiques of workplace well-being programs question their effectiveness and scope as mindfulness seminars and digital solutions do not necessarily improve well-being since career well-being is only part of overall well-being. Others find the short-term return on investment for workplace wellness programs limited.

Instead, addressing organizational practices over solely providing individual wellness programs may be more successful. Such programs implement coaching and address fundamental needs such as workload, time-saving technology, and control over their work environment, which are more meaningful.

4. Coaching can lead the change: Implications for the future

Coaching can significantly impact the future of workplace well-being. Research on coaching effectiveness in the workplace continues, though there are several potential implications for the future.

5. Learn more: Futures thinking in action

Future thinking uses the “what if” approach to envision and prepare for various possible futures. Coaches play an important role in shaping these potential scenarios. Picture a future where a globally interconnected and culturally inclusive coaching community not only thrives but also drives transformation.

  1. Imagine a future where coaches champion integrating mindfulness practices and mental fitness as core workplace values. How can a coaching-informed mindset redefine the employer’s role in fostering a healthy work environment?
  2. Envision a world with a standard four-day workweek. What new challenges and opportunities could arise from this significant shift in work culture? How can coaching address and navigate these new dynamics?
  3. Picture coaches leveraging Virtual Reality (VR) for innovative team-building exercises and stress management. What if these immersive experiences created a more supportive and cohesive work environment?
  4. Consider companies implementing ‘well-being sabbaticals’ as a regular part of career development. What if coaches helped employees maximize such sabbaticals? How could this practice transform the traditional career trajectory and reshape perceptions of work-life integration?

Resources to Explore

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