Has your corporate wellness program hit a plateau? Are results coming more slowly than you’d like? Are your most at-risk employees struggling to improve their health status? Is program engagement dropping off? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you should consider health coaches for your business.
Let’s start with the basics. What is a health coach?
Health coaches typically are medically trained professionals who have certifications or degrees in fields like nursing, fitness, nutrition, and smoking cessation. Health coaches guide and motivate employees and work with individuals to customize plans for reaching their goals. The coaches provide continuity of care by helping employees coordinate with doctors and/or employee health clinics. Health coaches also help people make informed lifestyle choices and offer direction about which health care and wellness program resources to use.
Health coaches play a proactive role for individuals who may not have identified health risks but are interested in preventive care or wish to improve their general health and wellness. The coaches can also serve to educate and support employees who smoke, suffer from chronic conditions or whose biometric screening results fall outside healthy ranges.
Regardless of how your business chooses to use health coaching, working with coaches offers multiple benefits.
How do health coaches strengthen wellness programs?
Health coaches are on the front line, positioned as wellness enthusiasts to inform employees about internal wellness program resources, incentives, deadlines, and other program details.
Coaches boost program engagement. They’re able to motivate and direct individuals to the most beneficial internal wellness resources for their situations. Employees often report higher satisfaction with wellness programs when they have the personal connection and support a health coach can provide. They’re also more likely to know about, take advantage of, and champion the different elements of your corporate health and wellness offerings.
Health coaches gather program feedback. They are sometimes able to identify operational glitches, like a confusing process or the need for additional programming to address a certain fitness ability or health concern, because employees feel comfortable talking to them. Employees quickly and willingly bring issues –and compliments – to a trusted advisor’s attention that might otherwise take months to surface through more formal feedback channels.
Population health improves, particularly when health coaching resources focus on at-risk employees whose (largely preventable) conditions contribute disproportionately to a company’s health care costs. By giving workers the tools, motivation, and personalized support to manage and improve their health, employee wellbeing improves, and overall health costs tend to go down. Take, for example, these studies:
- The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published a study about nutrition-focused coaching and reported decreased intakes of fat and carbohydrate by 31 percent after multiple coaching interventions. ” The group in the study also lost an average of 5 percent body weight.
- A study on telephonic health coaching, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found a 10.1 percent reduction in hospitalizations and medical and pharmacy cost savings of 3.6 percent among participants.
- Another study on telephonic coaching for a high-risk population showed that, over a two-year period, 89 percent of participants achieved at least one goal. Their improvements often were related to physical activity, nutrition and eating habits, sleep, stress management and emotional health.
Ultimately, adding health coaches to your wellness mix can result in lower health care costs and higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction.
Learn more about One to One's health coaching and other services.