Well-Being Takes a Village

The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” means that a community contributes to creating a safe environment for children. It doesn’t mean that the village is ultimately responsible for raising the child. Likewise, an individual is ultimately responsible for his or her health, but the greater group can foster an environment that helps that individual’s journey towards better well-being.

One of the biggest barriers to wellness program engagement is a lack of employee awareness and hands-on support. But one of the best ways to counter this problem is to create a wellness champion network. These allies will help your organization to not only spread the message about wellness programs and how they can make a positive impact on employees’ lives, but to also serve as highly effective peer-to-peer mentors.

How to set up a wellness champion group

Whether you’re calling it a champion network, committee, squad, or flock, this group of individuals who will champion wellness in your workplace will benefit from some guiding principles.

Have individuals volunteer rather than leadership choosing the participants. Those who volunteer typically are much more passionate and engaged in their own health and well-being, which builds their credibility with fellow employees.
When seeking volunteers, make expectations clear so that participants understand the level of commitment.
Provide guidance and resources. Your wellness champions will need to know about what goals you want to achieve, what type of metrics you are using to measure achievement, and what they have at their disposal to achieve those goals.
Empower your champions to spread the message in their own unique way and you’ll find the message will likely resonate well with your employees.

What your wellness champions can do

“Wellness champions” are a group of people who can act as cheerleaders and motivators for your wellness program. Here are just a few things that they can do.

Create and disseminate promotional materials, such as print flyers to be placed in areas like the break room, or digital communications like well-designed emails. These materials can promote awareness of events like lunch ‘n learn sessions, challenges, or on-site flu shots and biometric screenings. Some wellness partners may offer readymade promotional materials for your use.
Share stories of their personal wellness journeys. For example, a member of the group can talk about how he or she quit smoking or another member can talk about the steps they took to achieve a healthier weight.
Use challenges to increase social activity. Wellness programs may involve challenges, such as step or weight loss challenges, that employees can join. The more robust programs allow your organization to customize its own challenges, which can be set up at the individual, department/team, and organizational level.
Host lunch ‘n learns. These low-commitment learning opportunities can take place during lunch hour, and employees can learn more about nutrition, exercise, and other wellness topics.
Be a kick-starter. Champions serve a critical role in aiding their fellow employees to begin their health journey, by helping them learn how to use the wellness tools available.
Create a feedback loop. The flow of information doesn’t have to be one way. Wellness champions may also receive feedback from other employees about events they just attended with surveys. Remember that you want to continually receive input from your organization to constantly refine your wellness strategy.

Wellness champions are just one but very important part of ensuring a wellness strategy that can make a measureable impact on your workforce. For other ideas and tips on how to implement wellness in your workplace, visit HumanaWellness.com.