The latest buzz in the world of corporate wellness has beenfocused primarily on technology — from sport watches and healthmonitors to fitness apps and sleep trackers. Companies arerightfully seeking ways to integrate these new technologies intotheir wellness programs, hoping to drive stronger employeeparticipation and engagement.

|

Related: The growing role of health coaches

|

Even though we’re hopeful, we know there is no surefire approachwhen it comes to supporting our employees’ health and well-being,which is comprised of physical, social, emotional, financial andenvironmental dimensions.

|

And while the latest innovations can certainly help employeesachieve their wellness goals, technology is only one piece of thepuzzle.

|

In my experience, programs that marry a personalized experiencewith innovative technology drive higher participation, sustainedengagement and better outcomes for both employees andemployers.

|

Recent research backs that up — employees want morepersonalization from their wellness programs. While it may come asno surprise to learn that wellness program participants expect apersonalized experience given today’s consumer landscape, employeestypically prefer that their wellness personalization comes fromknowledgeable “live” experts, coaches and specialists.

|

In fact, nearly 75 percent of wellness program participants say personal touch isimportant in guiding their health.

|

Related: Employers shifting from wellness towell-being

|

Research also shows that providingopportunities for employees to connect with live experts cancontribute significantly to attracting and keeping participantsactive in a company’s wellness program, driving significant healthresults and helping companies realize medical and pharmacy costsavings.

Health coaching supports greater program engagement andholistic, long-term results

Within wellness programs, coaches can be a valuable source ofcredible, engaging support that help employees reach theirindividual goals and create a healthy vision for their lives.

|

Related: Could coaching be the cure for your wellnessprogram?

|

In the programs I’ve worked with in the past, participantschoose the pace, duration and frequency of their interaction withcoaches, meaning that coaches are available for check-ins, supportand problem-solving when a participant needs help.

|

There’s also a benefit to making enrollment and coaching anin-person experience. Our own research shows that employees whoenrolled in a wellness program in-person stayed in the programlonger, had more coaching sessions, and were more successful inbuilding healthy, sustainable habits.

|

Comparing employees who work with a coach with those who workthrough the wellness program on their own, research also foundthat:

  • Employees who work with a health coach stay enrolled in theirprogram longer than those who work through the program on theirown.

  • Those who used coaches gained 70 percent less weight than thosewho did not.

  • Nearly 20 percent of those who used coaches lost approximately 8pounds each year.

  • Survey participants who used coaches were 29 percent more likelyto quit using tobacco than non-participants.

The coach-driven wellness experience ends up being a moreholistic one as well. In measuring improvement of an employees’nutrition, physical activity, sleep, stress and tobacco use, thosewho worked with a coach had more significant progress across everycategory than those who worked on their own.

Health coaching presents more opportunities for costsavings

When examining how wellness programs impact medical and pharmacycosts, the 70:30 rule applies. Research shows that 70 percent ofmedical and pharmacy cost savings comes from just 30 percent ofemployees who enroll in coaching.

|

What’s more, those who enrolled in coaching saved an average of$586 on medical costs per year, compared with an average savings of$261 among wellness program participants who do not participate incoaching. This translates to approximately 6 percent more costsavings reaped by those who participate in wellness coaching.

Wellness program satisfaction and employee productivityincreases with health coaching in the mix

Research also confirms that not only do employees achieve theirhealth goals more readily when working with a health coach, theyare also more productive and satisfied with their company’s onlinewellness resources.

|

After working with a health coach, 84 percent of employeesreported improved productivity and 91 percent reported beingsatisfied with their employer’s online health and wellness-relatedresources, information and tools.

|

Employees’ desire for live, personalized expertise and coachingremains as strong as ever. Health coaches can provide theencouragement, passion, structure and personalization thatemployees are seeking in their employer’s wellness offering.

|

And, just as importantly, for employers looking to improve theirwellness program participation, health care savings, and employeesatisfaction, research shows that health coaches make significantcontributions to these ends and should be considered a criticalelement in reaching wellness program goals.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.