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How Live Chat Coaching Approaches Smoking and Employee Productivity

How Live Chat Coaching Approaches Smoking and Employee Productivity

Smoking and employee productivity don’t typically fit together. When you understand what happens inside a smoker’s brain, you can better understand why.

Imagine you’re a smoker. Tobacco addiction is like carrying a monkey on your back. The cravings affect you regardless of job type—whether you work in an office or at a construction site.

Here’s a snap shot of a typical work day in the office

  • 7:00 a.m.—You have 30 minutes to finish looking over the proposal your boss asked you to share before the potential new clients come in later today. Your coffee is starting to kick in.
  • 7:10 a.m. —*Tap* The monkey is tapping you on the shoulder. You don’t have time for this. You get up for more coffee.
  • 7:15 a.m. —*Tap tap tap tap* The tapping starts again. As you look over the report, you realize the data you used on page 3 is outdated. A section needs to be redone. Your stress increases.
  • 7:20 a.m. —*TAP* *TAP* *TAP* *TAP* TAP* The monkey is now full on jumping on your back. You need a cigarette.

Removing monkeys

As an EX Coach I chat with people who experience this kind of distraction daily. For many, a key reason to quit is to stop feeling like they have to plan their day around smoking.

The cycle of addiction makes it challenging to maintain focus even on important work. When smokers crave a cigarette, their body screams at them, “I want nicotine and I want it NOW!”. When that person smokes a cigarette, it takes only seconds for the brain to know the nicotine is in its system and it’s happy again. However, eventually the brain wants more and then the cycle repeats.

The Urban Dictionary defines the phrase “the monkey on my back” as “to have some very burdensome nuisance you have to put up with.” For people dealing with nicotine cravings it can literally feel like a monkey is on their back tapping, poking or jumping on them.

My job is to help people believe they don’t have to put up with it anymore and give them the tools to succeed. These tools include a discussion about medications like nicotine patches, gum or lozenges to help with their physical cravings and planning around their triggers. A few of the most common triggers I hear are drinking coffee, driving and feeling stress.

During live chat coaching, our sessions focus on whatever the person needs in that moment; they can conveniently message us any time. We’ll spend 5 minutes chatting about a rough craving or 20 minutes working through a plan for an upcoming quit. We’re flexible to meet participants where they are at.

Smoking and employee productivity

Research shows current smokers have lower work productivity than former and never smokers, and it’s no wonder. Imagine how much more productive employees could be without a nagging distraction constantly pulling attention away from their work.

With a program that provides anytime, anywhere access, here’s how the morning scenario described above could have looked:

  • 7:10 a.m.—*Tap* The monkey taps you on the shoulder. You would normally get up for more coffee but you learned from the EX site that coffee is a trigger to smoke for you, so you get up for hot water and make a cup of tea instead.
  • 7:15 a.m. —*Tap tap tap tap* The tapping starts again. You grab a piece of nicotine gum and get back to fixing the outdated data on page 3.
  • 7:20 a.m.—You finish the report with time to spare so you hop on live chat to let your coach know you kicked that monkey right off your back. Your coach knew you could do it and gives you a thumbs up. You sign off and get back to work. Time to win over that new client!

To learn more details about how live chat coaching supports tobacco users to quit, visit our program page.


Margaret LaPlante
Margaret LaPlante

EX Coach Lead

Margaret collaborates with the live chat team to ensure protocols are always current and research based. She trains the EX Coaches to get participants the help and medication support they need for a successful quit. Margaret has been delivering tobacco cessation coaching since 2004, helping others get the personalized help they need.

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