Personal, individual health coaching is a vital part of a successful wellness program because of its ability to help people cope with preventable health risks and conditions.  Preventable diseases cost businesses thousands of dollars a year.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that productivity losses linked to absenteeism costs employers $225.8 billion annually in the United States, or $1,685 per employee.  This number is even higher when productivity losses, morale, and temporary labor costs are taken into account.  Another survey projected that the average annual cost per employee for healthcare exceeded $9,800 in 2013. The number has risen steadily since then.

Almost all companies with 200 employees or more offer some sort of wellness program that is available to their employees, among these offerings is onsite individual health coaching.  These coaches act as personal cheerleaders to employees and influence the entire workplace culture with their approach and demeanor.  Anyone can benefit from the services of a health coach through some of the ways listed below.

Healthy Behavior Changes

A health coach can assist employees in making healthy lifestyle changes and breaking bad habits, such as smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and chronic stress.  When working with a health coach, employees will be given the tools to identify unhealthy behaviors and strategies to turn the negative behaviors into positive ones.  Also, a health coach can help employees through the barriers that may be holding them back and guide them through their behavior changes each step of the way.  The personalized approach increases an employee’s chances of making sustainable changes towards the betterment of their health, and as a result, a healthier workforce allows a company to succeed.  In a recent study, participants lost a significant amount of weight when working with a health coach when compared to those working in a rigorous weight loss program without a health coach.  The study suggests that health coaches may be promising as a cost effective obesity treatment strategy.

Goal Setting

Setting goals is imperative to personal and professional success.  The challenges are that employees may not know how to set goals appropriately or how to successfully attain their goals.  A health coach can help your employees set goals using the SMART system, which is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time- bound.  Working together, the health coach can assist an employee in making SMART goals for themselves and help them achieve these goals one step at a time through communication and feedback.

Stress Reduction

Stress effects all employees at some point in their lives.  Sometimes an individual may not know how to handle that stress turns to unhealthy behaviors to mask it.  Masking can include drinking, eating (unhealthy or too much/too little), overworking, or smoking.  Often, individuals don’t even realize they are turning to these bad behaviors in response to stress, which makes it even harder to self-correct.  A health coach can help employees identify stressors and work through them in a healthy and manageable way.

So how does this help employers?  When your employees are healthy, achieving their goals and managing stress appropriately, they are more productive, have less sick days, and consume less healthcare.  By having a health coach by their side, employees are more likely to incorporate healthy behaviors into their day and be more successful in their professional responsibilities, which in turn makes a company’s culture stronger and a lot healthier!

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