Role of Wellbeing Champions in Wellbeing Programs
What sounds more convincing to you? An email listing out benefits of yoga for an upcoming session or a conversation with your colleague that goes something like this: “You must definitely come for the yoga class. It’s super peaceful and has improved my health so much that I’ve made it a part of my daily schedule. We’ll go together. It will be fun!”
Nothing can replace human connection. Perhaps that’s why several organizations rely on wellness champions in the workplace as a form of grassroots strategy to promote wellbeing initiatives. They move in different social circles and focus groups and can do what posters, standees, and emails can’t — talk. Since they share a personal equation with employees, it’s easier to personally convince a colleague to take part in workplace wellbeing sessions. Wellbeing champions have become even more important in a remote working scenario as the bonds forged in the office enable them to look after each other in a virtual world.
Who is a wellbeing champion?
While there is no fixed wellbeing champion role description, workplace wellbeing champions are best defined as employees within the organization who volunteer to help facilitate or drive wellbeing initiatives in tandem with the organization. By connecting with colleagues socially, they encouraging them to participate in these programs. Think of them as social media influencers in the context of workplaces. Though not specified in any wellbeing champion role description, they are good communicators and generally well-liked amongst peers. They are not always trained or paid exclusively for this role and rely mostly on their social influence and connections within the organization.
Why are wellbeing champions important?
You may wonder that if there is no specific wellbeing champion role description or wellness champion toolkit, why do you need them at all? The answer is simple — they add a personal and human touch. As employees of the organization, connecting with peers helps them enhance employee participation rate in wellbeing programs. Concurrently, they also get candid and prompt feedback about roadblocks, and constructive criticism to improve workplace wellbeing initiatives.
You can forget about email invites and posters/standees in the cafeteria, but you can’t ignore your colleague exalting the virtues of yoga, meditation, or fitness sessions. Be it a watercooler conversation or a catchup session, they can casually bring up wellbeing initiatives with colleagues and encourage them to join in. The wider their network, the better it is for participation rates.
A health information technology and clinical research organization has 15-16 groups of wellbeing influencers organizing employee-led sessions based on popular demand. A senior management official at the organization shared, “Though these are small groups, they are all friends, so this close bond ensures regular participation. Imagine if each group has about 40 people, how many people will benefit from these sessions?” Such wellness champion ideas are highly successful and boost morale at work.
How to choose wellbeing champions?
Wellness champions in the workplace inspire people to kickstart their wellbeing journey and motivate them to keep going. It’s not necessary to have someone who is already focused on wellbeing. It could also be an employee who is dedicated to making mindfulness a regular part of their life and can encourage other people to tag along on this journey. It’s similar to how being in a group emboldens people to take part in adventure sports — something they may not have dared to do otherwise.
A good network of wellness champions in the workplace will have both kinds of influencers. Since they become role models for the rest of your employees, it’s important to see whether they can personify their love for wellbeing and communicate effectively to mobilize others.
Benefits of having wellbeing champions
Some of the most popular wellbeing initiatives stem from wellness champion ideas. They set a realistic goal for employees and support them at every step of the way. Looking at them, an employee may feel, “If they can stop smoking, so can I.” Leading a group of like-minded individuals also encourages wellness champions in the workplace to stick to their own wellbeing goals.
Wellbeing champions usually work in small groups of individuals who share common wellbeing goals. Since they share a personal equation with their colleagues, they can gauge their interests and organize sessions that are beneficial to their goals. Sharing a personal bond with employees also means they receive genuine feedback from their colleagues on how current sessions are helping them and other activities/initiatives that can be introduced to the group. As we work from home, wellness champions play an instrumental role in ensuring that employees don’t succumb to loneliness or monotony and continue their wellbeing journey.
One can’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to wellbeing. Hence, wellness champions in the workplace are integral to understanding the needs of your employees and helping the HR team in putting together an appropriate wellbeing program.