Norwich Business School is supporting the development of a new online coaching programme

Yellow Brick Road Solutions, which trades as, is a wellbeing coaching service for professionals, designed to help participants feel energised and improve their wellbeing. The service originally started as a face to face programme, but company founder Ian Hacon wanted to move to an online model, enabling the business to broaden its client base and achieve its mission of energising 10 million people. and the Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia (UEA) were awarded an EIRA Research & Development Grant to conduct vital research into how increased energy results would affect employee productivity and business profitability.


The Challenge


Whilst it is well established in scientific literature that wellbeing leads to a variety of physical and emotional benefits, the research needed to find out more about the practical steps organisations can take to enhance wellbeing and productivity simultaneously.

The prototype was designed to move training and coaching away from the classroom to an online digital platform, giving delegates easy access to coaching, data and training.

This type of programme would greatly benefit industries that struggle with face-to-face sessions, such as the hospitality sector, where shift patterns are often erratic.


The Approach


The project was overseen by the lead academic Professor Kevin Daniels from Norwich Business School at UEA, who specialises in wellbeing, health and safety in the workplace. The project was supported by Callum Grimble, a student from the School of Computing Sciences who worked with the team at on the development of the back end of the platform.

The project was developed as a feasibility study of the programme, which comprises digital tools, group-based activities and coaching aimed at improving health and wellbeing.

The company would work with a variety of businesses and individuals to collect data to give an initial indication of whether the application could work and how it could be modified. The UEA team would then routinely collect data and modify the platform to collect other self-report data using scientifically validated instruments of self-reported health, wellbeing, and proposed mechanisms through which the intervention may work.


The Outcome


When the project was formulated, the team designed it using statistical analysis of data fed via the back end of the platform. However, due to the global pandemic, the project had to pivot substantially.

The number of businesses taking part was significantly reduced and Professor Daniels moved to a qualitative research model, conducting interviews with participants rather than using a quantitative method.

The study conducted interviews with ten participants that had been through the programme during the pandemic. The results indicated the main areas for developing the programme related to integrating techniques to enhance social interaction in group-based exercises; integrating the coaching more fully with data gathered from exercises; and provision of post-programme coaching support.

Ian Hacon, Founder commented:

“Overall, we are very happy with the report’s overall findings and that the programme has the potential to bring about beneficial changes in health behaviours and other aspects of wellbeing. We welcome its finding and whilst it is a shame events with the pandemic caused us to change the scope and not be able to provide quantitative proof of outcome, we remain committed to proving this quantitative link and would look forward to opportunities to collaborate in the future with UEA in further research. The support of the interns around data, IT and marketing was invaluable in not only assisting on the project but in driving the business forward and creating valuable IP.”


Next Steps


Further collaborations between and Prof Kevin Daniels are currently being discussed with the potential of an MSc Student placement for next year.


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