Employee health coaching
Experts believe that personal, one-to-one health coaching is an important part of a successful, result-oriented employee wellness program. That's because they help people cope with preventable health risks that cost the U.S. healthcare system hundreds of billions of dollars each year. Employees who are obese, chronically stressed or who over-use tobacco are more likely to suffer from health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, which can impact their wellbeing and productivity as well as their employers’ healthcare costs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each employee who smokes costs employers $1,897 in lost productivity each year and obesity results in $1,429 in annual medical costs per person, compared to people with normal weight. This makes employer-sponsored wellness programs with a health coaching component a welcome addition to an employee benefits package.
Helping employees manage lifestyle-based risk factors
Health coaching programs are designed to guide and motivate employees to make healthy lifestyle changes such as losing weight, stopping tobacco use, managing stress or chronic back pain and increasing physical activity. By addressing the range of physical, emotional and environmental factors that influence people’s behavior, health coaching is tailored to an individual’s specific needs, challenges and results in measurable, goal-oriented outcomes.
Coaching support can be delivered through person-to-person or group consultation at the worksite, online or over the phone. Coaches are typically registered or occupational nurses, dieticians, exercise physiologists, health education specialists, and/or mental health professionals. Typically, the health coach initiates an outreach— a telephone interview or in-person assessment — to identify a participant’s level of risk and determine the amount of support they may need. Assuming the employee is ready and willing to develop a relationship with the coach and work with him or her to make positive lifestyle changes, the coach will customize a program and set a coaching schedule. The participant and coach then work side-by-side on any number of activities that might include setting goals, learning new skills and understanding biometric data.
Making a difference; does health coaching work?
In their "Guide to Health Coaching", WebMD Health Services projects that individuals who completed a coaching program had $507 per person, per year in decreased health-related costs, and 72.6% of high-risk and 61.6% of moderate-risk participants in the program improved one or more modifiable health risks. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported results of a study done to examine health plan members’ satisfaction and success with voluntary telephonic health coaching. It concluded that such coaching programs can be an effective way to help patients achieve their wellness goals related to healthy weight, healthful eating and physical activity. Of those participants who had completed 2 or more coaching sessions, 70% reported being satisfied with the program and 71% would recommend health coaching. By encouraging positive behavioral change, health coaching can lead to a healthier employee base and lower overall healthcare costs.
Employee coaching can: