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Startup Bravely Brings Personalized Coaching to Every Employee

Professional coaching is no longer an exclusive perk for select employees, courtesy of Bravely, a cloud-based platform that delivers workplace guidance on demand to more workers.

The New York-based startup provides coaching to employees in numerous industries, including professional and financial services, hospitality, retail, and high technology.

“Everyone should have a trusted, skilled coach to help them navigate important make-or-break moments at work,” said Toby Hervey, co-founder and CEO at Bravely. “Supporting an employee at moments that matter fundamentally transforms their long-time success and viability, as well as company culture.”

Business Benefits of Coaching for All

Bravely Co-Founder and President Sarah Sheehan said the coaching platform reflected people-first workplace trends.

“Forward-thinking leaders know employees need hard skills and relationship-building expertise to achieve goals together,” she said. “Using technology, companies can cost-effectively give more employees access to coaching. This reduces employee stress and prevents burnout for improved mental health, leading to higher productivity.”

Not surprisingly, Bravely helps companies address business commitments to inclusion and diversity. This is something that the co-founders live every day: Hervey is a gay man and Sheehan is a new mother.

“We see strong usage of our coaching among groups such as women, LGBTQ workers, and people of color who are underrepresented the higher up you go in many organizations,” Hervey said. “We want to be a force for behavioral change across the board and equitably support people at every level.”

Just-In-Time Coaching

Bravely’s network of rigorously vetted, certified coaches stands ready to serve employees across 30 countries, 24/7. Using the app, employees can schedule confidential sessions within personalized timeframes. Someone might need some quick coaching to clarify talking points for a difficult conversation with a manager later that day. Users may want to prepare for upcoming performance reviews, strengthen relationships with peers or direct reports, or develop long-term plans for promotions or success in new roles.

Data Tracks Eye-Opening Insights

Based on post-session reports, 91 percent of employees intend to take a next step. Clients also report lower human resources (HR) caseloads, freeing those teams up for strategic responsibilities. Companies have used anonymized data from Bravely to surface information over time that leaders might not have heard about otherwise.

“Data from coaching sessions at one company revealed employee perceptions that people couldn’t move up because the organization tended to hire externally for management positions,” Hervey explained. “HR changed those perceptions with an educational program on upward career paths.”

Deeply Personal Journeys Behind Bravely

Sheehan and Hervey are both New York transplants from Florida, where they were born and raised in cities close by but unbeknown to one another. After first meeting as colleagues at a New York-based startup, the two created Bravely from a shared vision.

As the daughter of an employment lawyer who primarily represented women and people of color, Sheehan’s dinner-table conversations while growing up were often about workplace issues. Pursuing her career in HR and sales, she considered herself fortunate to have had support from the accomplished people who surrounded her. She wanted to help others tap that same power.

“Like many young women, I struggled to find my voice and challenge myself to climb the ladder,” Sheehan said. “I wanted to extend career support, offering something historically available only to people at the highest levels of an organization.”

Hervey channeled his lifelong startup mentality into Bravely, a trait he honed as the son of entrepreneurial parents. He began working at his family’s pet care company at the age of 11, eventually moving into customer service. Later, in New York, after various positions at technology companies, including a telemedicine startup that matched healthcare providers with patients who needed urgent care, Hervey had an epiphany about bringing a similar concept to employees.

“Bravely connects all the different threads in my life, including building something from scratch, using technology to scale resources, and helping people navigate interpersonal dynamics to reach larger goals,” Hervey said.

SAP is the Perfect Partner

Bravely recently participated in the latest healthcare-focused accelerator program at SAP.iO Foundry New York. It was one of seven up-and-coming startups working with hospital system providers, employee health and wellness solutions, medical devices, and health IT.

“We learned a lot about our go-to-market strategy, including how to meet the multi-faceted needs of enterprises in many industries that are managing diverse, global employee populations in different environments,” Sheehan said.

Available to download from SAP App Center, Bravely is integrated with SAP SuccessFactors solutions. The app features triggers for HR-related events like performance reviews or starting a new position.

“Our partnership model with SAP has opened the door for new ways to engage and support employees,” said Hervey. “SAP is recognized as a top place to work and for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products like ours support that mission.”


Follow me: @smgaler
A version of this story originally appeared on SAP BrandVoice Forbes.

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