With employer-sponsored health care costs projected to increase 8.5% in 2024, companies have a renewed sense of urgency to improve health outcomes and address complex and chronic conditions. Many employers are turning to workplace wellbeing initiatives, specifically health coaching, to help employees better manage their conditions through lifestyle changes.
This blog covers the role, benefits, and techniques of health coaching, providing organizations with a roadmap to seamlessly integrate it into existing corporate wellness initiatives.
Benefits Of Health Coaching For Preventive Care
Preventive care refers to the proactive measures taken to avoid illness, detect health issues early, and maintain well-being. Health coaching is a valuable resource within this realm.
The primary role of a health coach is to guide employees toward healthier lifestyles. They’re readily available for check-ins, support, and problem-solving, ensuring that participants receive credible and engaging counseling to improve their health.
In the workplace, health coaching can play a pivotal role in reducing health care costs and boosting employee productivity, satisfaction, and well-being.
Improved Health Markers & Disease Prevention
Research indicates that employees working with health coaches achieve greater improvements in nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress management, and tobacco use. Notably, one study revealed that health coaching resulted in significant enhancements in multiple biomarker risk factors, including blood pressure and total cholesterol. These improvements contribute significantly to overall health and disease prevention.
Enhanced Employee Engagement
Employees actively engaged in health coaching report improved productivity and greater satisfaction with their employer’s wellness resources. Additionally, employees who participated in a wellness program alongside a health coach stayed enrolled in the program longer than those who didn’t. The personal touch from coaches resonates with employees, elevating program engagement and dedication to their health goals.
Promoting Holistic Personal Growth
Health coaching goes beyond physical health, spanning various dimensions of holistic well-being. Participants have the flexibility to choose the pace, duration, and frequency of their interactions with coaches, providing employees with a balance of autonomy and support. This personalized approach not only paves the way for long-term success but also strengthens a sense of accountability and discipline that can be extended to various aspects of life.
Reduced Health Care Costs
For employers navigating the complexities of health care expenses, the potential cost savings through health coaching are noteworthy. In recent years, employer-sponsored health care costs remained stable despite broader economic inflation, largely due to long-term medical provider contracts. Now, as providers adjust for past expenses, US employers are bracing for an 8.5% increase in health care budgets in 2024, nearly doubling this past year’s increase. Health coaching, with a focus on preventive care, is emerging as a valuable strategy for employers to mitigate health care cost inflation and maintain financial stability.
Research reveals that enrollees in health coaching saved an average of $586 annually on medical costs, representing 6% more savings compared to those not participating in coaching. Moreover, the 70:30 rule highlights that a significant portion of medical and pharmacy cost savings—70%—originates from the 30% of employees enrolled in coaching.
Techniques Used In Health Coaching
Motivational interviewing and positive psychology are empowerment-centered approaches that align with the fundamental principles of health coaching. They foster self-discovery, goal-setting, and sustainable behavior change by emphasizing an individual’s strengths and intrinsic motivations.
Motivational interviewing leverages thoughtful dialogue to guide employees toward their own decisions rather than dictating change. Consider the difference:
- Imposing Change: “You need to start exercising.”
- Motivational Interviewing: “In what ways would your life be different if you started exercising?”
Research highlights that asking open-ended questions to tap into employees’ intrinsic motivations is a significantly more effective approach than imposing external directives, which can often lead to resistance.
Positive psychology draws upon individuals’ existing strengths, empowering them to elevate their healthy behaviors. It takes a different approach from traditional psychology, which often seeks to identify and remedy weaknesses. Consider the difference:
- Traditional Psychology: “What issues are you struggling with regarding your health? Let’s work on eliminating behaviors that contribute to those issues.”
- Positive Psychology: “What are some things you enjoy doing that make you feel good about your health? Let’s work on incorporating more of those behaviors.”
Rather than fixating on problems, positive psychology cultivates a more optimistic and empowering mindset that prompts lasting changes in behavior.
Choosing The Right Coaching Program
Selecting the right health coaching program is a crucial decision that sets the stage for employees’ well-being journeys. It impacts not only their access to care but also the quality and relevance of support they receive.
1. Importance Of Diversity In Coaches
Prioritize a DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging)-friendly coaching program that features coaches with various specialties. This approach yields several benefits:
- Enhanced Access & Comfort: Offering a variety of coaches ensures individuals from marginalized groups have the option to receive care from a wellness professional who shares their identity, enhancing access and comfort.
- Cultural Competence: Coaches from underrepresented backgrounds may be better equipped to comprehend the unique needs of individuals from underserved populations. This enables them to provide compassionate, non-judgmental, and culturally sensitive care.
- Tailored Support: With coaches specializing in areas such as nutrition, fitness, and mental health, employees gain the flexibility to select professionals whose expertise aligns with their individual goals.
2. Comprehensive Coaching Accessibility
Accessibility and adaptability stand as essential pillars in health coaching services. Beyond promoting a sense of care and belonging within the workforce, these qualities maximize the potential for positive impacts on individual well-being and organizational health outcomes. Here are key factors that contribute to comprehensive coaching accessibility:
- Flexible Timing: Tailor coaching delivery to accommodate different time zones and work schedules, making it accessible to employees regardless of their shifts or geographical locations.
- Virtual Solutions With Minimal Technology: Offer virtual coaching sessions to provide flexibility and convenience. Ensure the program has minimal technological requirements, enabling employees to participate with only a phone or computer.
- Versatile Booking: Offer the option to book both one-off and recurring coaching sessions, ensuring coaching aligns seamlessly with employees’ changing needs and schedules.
- Scalability: The coaching program should be scalable to meet growing demand, accommodating an expanding user base without compromising the quality of service.
3. Holistic Approach
Customizing coaching to individual needs and embracing a holistic approach is the cornerstone of effective health coaching. Consider the following for a well-rounded approach to achieving health and wellness objectives:
- Holistic Solutions: A comprehensive program should go beyond physical fitness, covering various aspects of employee well-being like nutrition coaching, mental health support, and stress management.
- Social Determinants Of Health: Health coaches should also consider social determinants of health (SDOH) and other unique factors that may influence an individual’s overall well-being. This allows them to effectively tailor coaching strategies to the broader societal and environmental factors that impact their health.
Take The Next Step: Implement Health Coaching
Wellable’s health coaching services are a practical starting point for organizations seeking to harness the power of health coaching. Here’s what to expect:
- Diversity: Wellable boasts a diverse pool of health coaches, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility. Coaches come from various cultural backgrounds specializing in stress reduction, nutrition, movement, and more.
- Coach Credentials: Wellable’s coaches are highly qualified, holding bachelor’s degrees in related fields and certifications from nationally recognized health coaching organizations.
- Modalities: Wellable offers live telephone and virtual meetings, making it easy for employees to connect with their coaches.
- Personalized Approach: Health coaching is participant-centered and goal-driven. Coaches help individuals set SMART goals, create actionable plans, secure early wins, and develop intrinsic motivation for lasting change.
- Availability & Ease Of Scheduling: Wellable’s health coaches span different time zones, offering near-round-the-clock availability. Sessions can be booked one-off or recurrent, catering to individual preferences and schedules.
- Accessibility For Hard-To-Reach Employees: Wellable’s health coaching module is designed to personalize the well-being experience. It requires minimal technology and can be tailored to each employee’s unique circumstances, including consideration of SDOH.