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How to Build a Wellness Champion Network in Your Organization

Wellness champions in the workplace bring passion to your well-being program and deliver real value by increasing the program’s visibility, getting peers engaged and helping to create a true culture of well-being. But how do you form a Wellness Champion Network? Get the highlights in this week’s blog and be sure to check out our new Wellness Champion e-book for all the details. Let’s dive in…

Want to create a Wellness Champion Network, but not sure where to start? Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about forming one.

What is a Wellness Champion?

Wellness Champions are health-minded employees who are passionate about creating a healthier workplace. They serve as positive role models who provide the support, encouragement and motivation to peers to engage with your well-being program. They also offer valuable feedback to leadership to continually evolve well-being offerings.

When these employee advocates come together in a Wellness Champion Network, they can help create and elevate a culture grounded in well-being.

What is a Wellness Champion Network (WCN)?

Wellness Champion Networks formally bring together wellness champions from different parts of the organization. They meet regularly to discuss program initiatives, employee engagement strategies and share best practices to support a culture of health across all the company’s locations, as well as those working remotely.

For clients who have WebMD Health Services Dedicated Well-Being Staff, this group also serves as a liaison between your team and our team.

Who makes a good Wellness Champion?

A Wellness Champion can be anyone in the organization with a passion for well-being—no matter their fitness level, shape, or size—who is:

  • Already actively engaged in your company’s well-being program;
  • Willing to make a reasonable time commitment to the role;
  • Organized and capable of running well-being program initiatives and delegating tasks to others; and
  • Fun-loving and ready to contribute to a healthy atmosphere at work!

What responsibilities does a Wellness Champion have?

Wellness Champions serve as boots-on-the-ground support and also act as the eyes and ears of the program, providing valuable feedback to well-being program leaders. It’s important to be transparent about their role.

Wellness Champions are often called upon to:

  • Promote health assessments, health coaching, screenings and special events.
  • Advocate with local leadership to support and promote the well-being program at their worksite.
  • Plan and participate in on-site and/or virtual activities, like wellness challenges and webinars.
  • Solicit feedback from co-workers about what they want to see in their well-being program and communicate this to corporate benefits/HR/leadership.
  • Share best practices, lessons learned, and new programming ideas with other Wellness Champions.

How do you gain leadership support for Wellness Champions?

Leadership buy-in is important to the success of a WCN. Make sure to emphasize the benefits of the program, such as:

Return on Investment (ROI) from:

  • Increased visibility of program offerings;
  • Higher participation rate for cornerstone elements, like Health Assessments and biometric screenings; and
  • Better communication about wellness challenges to increase participation.

Improved population health leading to:

  • Greater productivity;
  • Lower rates of absenteeism and presenteeism;
  • Lower health care costs;
  • Higher employee engagement; and
  • Lower turnover.

How do you recruit Wellness Champions and build a Network?

  1. Advertise. Spread the word that you are looking for Wellness Champions in well-being newsletters, chat groups, workplace social media and Employee Resource Groups.
  2. Hold an interest meeting in person or via video call to explain the roles and responsibilities of a Wellness Champion. If you have a lot of interest, consider using an application process.
  3. Establish a committee. Make sure all departments are represented, and ensure the group reflects the diversity of your population.
  4. Set a meeting schedule. We recommend meeting monthly or quarterly. Be considerate of time zone differences.
  5. Hold your first meeting to review roles and responsibilities and establish a mission statement and goals.
  6. Make a plan. At your next meeting, try to plan out a year’s worth of well-being activities.
  7. Solicit feedback and refine. As the WCN’s efforts gain traction, make sure to continually seek feedback from the employee population through surveys or focus groups.

What are some ways to keep Wellness Champions engaged?

Wellness Champions are volunteers after all, so it’s important to keep them engaged by showing your support, recognizing them and giving them the tools they need to succeed.

  • Provide ongoing training to help Wellness Champions stay up-to-date on the latest well-being trends and best practices.
  • Recognize and reward their efforts in your well-being communications, all-employee forums and other organization-wide communication vehicles.
  • Other ideas include:
    • Ask a senior leader to drop by a Wellness Champion meeting to actively show support.
    • Give them something special they can wear with pride, like t-shirts emblazoned with Wellness Champion and your company logo.
    • Grant extra wellness points they can use toward gifts on your well-being platform. You can also award them lunch with the CEO, a coveted parking space, or workout gear.

What are some ideas for measuring the effectiveness of a WCN?

  • Track employee engagement: What percentage of the population is participating in company-sponsored and local events? Is this increasing over time? Are some events more popular than others? It’s helpful to look at metrics by location to see where Wellness Champions might be having an effect.
  • Look at trends: Take note of participation in things like screenings and Health Assessments before your WCN is established. Then measure participation in these same activities after the Wellness Champion network has actively promoted them. You can also measure the “before” and “after” of engagement with health coaching, mental health programs, financial wellness and more.
  • Gather testimonials: Numbers are important, but personal endorsements from employees are powerful and motivating, and can communicate to key stakeholders the positive impact of the program.
  • Gauge employee satisfaction: Survey employees to learn how Wellness Champions have impacted their experience with the well-being program.
  • Capture the little things: Record the small signs of a culture of well-being taking shape in the organization, like healthier catering orders, a decrease in vending machine sales, more people taking the stairs, etc. These are all signs that your Wellness Champions are making an impact and are valid things to measure!

What kind of support does WebMD Health Services provide for WCNs?

As a WebMD Health Services client, you can take advantage of as much or as little support as you need to get your WCN off and running. From design and implementation of the WCN, to on-the-ground support with events and materials, to getting the word out, our team of account managers, Dedicated Well-Being Staff and communications pros can make your well-being program shine.

 

Having dedicated Wellness Champions to actively support and promote your wellness corporate solution can enhance its effectiveness, increase employee engagement and accountability and empower well-being in everyone. Ready to create a Wellness Champion Network for your organization? Check out our Wellness Champion e-book or contact us at connect@webmd.net.

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