Health coaches drive wellness program participation

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Simply having a comprehensive wellness program doesn’t mean employees will gravitate to it. But rather than embracing all the new technology and tools available in an attempt to drive participation, employers might want to consider what employees really want out a wellness program: A highly personalized experience.

New research from HealthFitness finds that health coaching, a uniquely personalized experience for wellness plan participants, offers measurable costs savings, health behavior improvement, risk reduction and very high employee satisfaction.

“When considering how to bring personalization to your wellness program, it’s important to think of how best to match the program with the people,” says Cherie Buraglio, senior director of product management at HealthFitness.

Coached employees reported a greater health impact compared to non-coached participants, the HealthFitness study notes. On average, they gained 70% less weight (.24 lbs. for the coached participant compared to .80 lbs. for non-coached participants).

And the benefits of having a coached wellness program were twofold, with the study showing employers saw cost savings on these programs.

Employers whose wellness program participants worked with coaches recognized the incremental 6.1% of cost savings:

· $586 – Average savings per year for coaching participants, or 11.3% of medical costs
· $261 – Average savings per year for non-coached participants, or 5.2% of medical costs

“A program is comprised of all the different activities, resources, devices, apps and challenges; actions participants take that are part of a wellness program. But it’s the people — especially coaches — who bring the program to life and provide participants with a personalized experience,” Buraglio adds.

In addition to personalization/customization, the other top drivers of wellness participation, according to HealthFitness, are: ease/convenience, motivation/incentive, mental health support and company culture.

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