Cultivating support for workplace wellness programs is no easy task. Although some of us (myself included) view this challenge as a solo mission, employee participation is paramount to program success—it simply cannot be done alone. Especially in larger organizations and/or those with multiple locations, I would argue it’s impossible without the help of wellness champions. Lucky for us, wellness champions are made, not born.
Now, don’t make the mistake of assuming your wellness champions must be the “picture of health.” These are NOT just people in the office who exclusively eat salads or are fitness gurus. The goal is for this group to represent their fellow colleagues. And the fact is, well-being looks different for each and every person. A group of people who all appear to be health nuts, while positive, can often be intimidating to folks interested in testing the wellness waters. Also, it’s just plain unrealistic!
Creating wellness champions in the workplace is like planting a garden: Pick and sow your seeds; provide lots of water, sunlight, and nutrients; and watch them grow. But if you need a little more guidance, here are some tips to get started:
- Select a diverse group. This doesn’t only apply to age, gender, and demographics, but try to incorporate good representation from all work groups. Remember, diversity also means differences in thought and perspective.
- Recruit people who see the “big picture.” Research continues to prove that health and well-being impact performance. High-achieving organizations are embracing this and working to marry this with culture.
- Be clear about expectations. This could take the form of a contract, if desired. Include the purpose of the team, time commitment, length of time served, etc. This might be helpful to share with direct supervisors of champions, too.
- Focus on communication and feedback. Create a two-way communication and feedback channel—more than just encouraging participation and healthy lifestyle messages.
Let’s not forget these champions will need to rally together, and meetings are imperative. Organizations just starting to introduce the concept of wellness champions may want to hold meetings more often than those with an established group. Getting your team on the same page and putting these concepts into practice will send you well on your way to growing your wellness champions.