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The Importance of Certifications in Health Coaching

Organizational success is dependent on corporate wellness – this includes the health of employees. In addition to traditional benefits, one way to maintain a strong and engaged workforce is by offering health coaching. Unique and centrally based around the human connection, health coaching has emerged as more than just a fleeting trend within offices and organizations around the world; it is a powerful tool assisting corporations in not only promoting the importance of health and well-being to their employees but also helping them to reach their health and wellness goals.

In addition to many things on their plate, HR professionals are also tasked with keeping a constant pulse on employee health and satisfaction. When seeking out a health coaching program to offer to employees, it’s critical to remember that not all health coaches are created equal. It’s essential to recognize the importance of the NBC-HWC certification in health coaching, why it matters, how it contributes to professionalism and credibility, and the benefits it brings to organizations committed to fostering a culture of wellness. If that sounds like a lot, that’s because it is! Keep reading as we break it all down.

What is an NBC-HWC Certification?

The National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach certification, backed by the National Board for Health & Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), is a comprehensive standard of certification for the health and wellness coaching profession. The National Board Certification credential (NBC-HWC) represents the profession’s highest standard. 

The NBC-HWC certification aims to limit variability in coaching practices and ensures that certified practitioners demonstrate a standard of care based upon a set of competencies for appropriately developing the coaching relationship, processes for behavior change, ethics, and wellness knowledge.

Health coaches and educators are backed by this credential and are rooted in behavior change principles that ultimately put the power in the hands of the member. In fact, a part of the certification process focuses on the Stages of Change: precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and termination. These stages encompass working to identify where members are in their journey and partnering with them through collaboration and patience. Actionable steps and SMART goals are put in place to increase self-confidence and make lasting changes possible.

As an example, studies have proven that behavior change – a core focus of being an NBC-HWC certified health coach – does indicate favorable outcomes – 38% in nutrition and 31% in exercise.

Why Certifications Matter

Professional certifications of any kind ensure a high level of knowledge is both obtained and applied. Related to health coaches, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coaches (NBC-HWC) are held to specific standards allowing them to not only obtain certification but use it effectively in practice. Here’s why:

  1. Quality Assurance

The NBC-HWC Certification in health coaching serves as a mark of quality assurance, indicating that a coach has met specific standards of education, training, and competency. For organizations partnering with health coaches, it ensures that employees receive high-quality, evidence-based guidance and support. “Health coaching involves 3 steps: (1) exploring and building self-awareness, (2) taking action steps, and (3) monitoring and evaluating results.” Credible individuals are equipped and trusted to provide reliable methods of coaching through these actionable initiatives.

  • Professionalism and Credibility

The numbers speak for themselves – the market for health coaching in the United States is estimated to be valued at $6.94 billion by 2032. The demand is high, and the need for those to be NBC-HWC certified is even higher. As with many health professions, certifications lend credibility, signaling to employers that they possess the knowledge, skills, and expertise necessary to effectively support employees.

  • Standardization of Practices

Certifications establish a standard set of practices, guidelines, and requirements for health coaches to follow. By adhering to established evidence-based standards, NBC-HWC certified health coaches provide a consistent, structured, and reliable approach to wellness offerings across topics. A Job Task Analysis identified 21 essential tasks specific to health and wellness coaches that provided “a significant step forward in the building of a clear and consistent definition of HWC that will allow for uniform practice standards and enable more stringent methodology to evaluate this promising approach within evidence-based medicine.”

Benefits for Organizational Decision Makers

In a short time, certifications have grown exponentially. Since the NBC-HWC certification exam’s inception in 2017, more than 7,400 coaches have been board-certified. This proves there is growing interest in, and a visible need for, health coaches. Along with the need comes high-quality programs and accreditations that create uniformity and systematic processes.

Why should this matter to HR leaders? They can feel confident and assured knowing there is a confirmed value-add for having certified health and wellness coaches as part of the employer’s benefit offerings.

  1. Enhanced Program Effectiveness

NBC-HWC certified health coaches bring specialized knowledge and skills to the table, enhancing the effectiveness of corporate wellness programs. Their expertise in behavior change, motivational partnering, and personalized goal setting contributes to positive health outcomes for employees. Due to their expertise, credibility, and human connection, certified health coaches increase the probability for success.

  • Increased Employee Engagement

Since the pandemic, it may come as no surprise that employee engagement took a dip and stress levels spiked. Specifically in the United States and Canada, “52% of employees reported they experienced a lot of stress the previous day.” One way those levels have begun to even out though is through an employee-employer connection and a genuine care for employees. Employees are more likely to engage with wellness initiatives if they feel more engaged. The presence of NBC-HWC certified coaches can help foster this through a supportive and motivating environment, encouraging employees to actively participate in their well-being journey. Employees are likely to be 38% more engaged when they believe their employer cares about their health and well-being.

  • Improved Program ROI

Investing in NBC-HWC certified health coaches yields a higher return on investment (ROI) for corporate wellness programs. By driving positive behavior change, reducing health risks, and enhancing employee productivity and satisfaction, certified coaches contribute to tangible cost savings and organizational success. The return on investment suggests that a broader implementation of certified health coaching programs could prove valuable for employer budgeting and employee productivity in addition to overall health outcomes.

  • Risk Reduction

By partnering with NBC-HWC certified health coaches, employers can help mitigate health-related risks. Proactive wellness interventions supported by certified coaches can prevent the onset of chronic conditions, reduce the need for healthcare interventions, lower insurance costs, strengthen company culture, and retain employee commitments. Research concludes a “10% improvement in employees’ connection with the mission or purpose of their organization leads to an 8.1% decrease in employee turnover and a 4.4% increase in profitability.

  • Competitive Advantage

Employers who incorporate NBC-HWC certified health coaching into their service offerings gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. This could attract and retain top talent. Certified health coaches demonstrate a commitment to quality and professionalism, distinguishing their services from competitors. Health coaching puts the coach and the member in a vulnerable position; however, someone who is highly skilled recognizes the opportunity and responsibility to make significant impacts on the organization.

Certifications play a crucial role in elevating the practice of health coaching and enhancing the effectiveness of corporate wellness initiatives. For HR leaders, partnering with NBC-HWC certified health coaches is essential to drive positive health outcomes, increase employee engagement, and achieve a significant return on investment. NBC-HWC certified coaches enhance the value proposition for clients, leading to increased client satisfaction and loyalty. By prioritizing this certification in health coaching, organizations can foster a culture of wellness that promotes employee well-being and organizational success.

Interested in working one-on-one with NBC-HWC certified health coaches? Contact us today to get started.