To help support the whole employee, many companies are doubling down on organizational support with an emphasis on well-being champions.
What is a workplace wellbeing champion?
A workplace well-being champion is someone who helps support and promote well-being, engagement, and inclusion efforts by keeping a finger on the pulse of company culture. Champions volunteer to promote well-being, support colleagues, and drive positive cultural change. They partner with program admins and their teams to reach and support all employees.
Why are well-being champions important?
In his book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Malcolm Gladwell explains, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire.” He adds, “If you want to bring fundamental change in people’s beliefs and behavior…You need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”
This is where well-being champions are crucial.
You cannot do this alone – it takes a team to gain momentum. Your champions bring your vision to life by creating a community. At the grassroots and local level, they’re relatable and can make company-wide initiatives feel personal and real. Champions can also provide continuous feedback. What’s resonating and working? Where’s the pushback?
Here are a few ways well-being champions make an impact:
They encourage volunteerism and community building
As natural influencers, they inspire friendly competition in team activities
Champions are often in the know, so they’re always helping promote upcoming activities
In their close relationships with program admins, they help shape strategy and influence future events and activities
Best practices for implementing champion networks
Organizational best practices:
Set clear role expectations: Because champions often volunteer, they are opting into tasks and responsibilities that are not listed in their job description. It is important to provide employees with formal job descriptions that detail the requirements of being a champion.
TrainChampions: Champions require initial and ongoing training so they can continue to serve as a source of knowledge for co-workers and executives.
Provide Resources & Support: Research has found champions whose managers support them are more successful at implementing initiatives. Champions also need access to things like toolkits on planning events, language to be used, etc.
Provide Recognition: To ensure champions carry out their roles and responsibilities, they should be held accountable and given recognition when they fulfill their champion goals. Formal recognition shows that organizations value the work that champions do.
ManageOrganizationalCulture: Champions cannot be successful unless they exist in a culture that supports their goals. Organizational leadership can do this by giving employees space and opportunities to exercise their voice, providing channels to share and pilot novel ideas, and utilizing and integrating employee feedback into organizational changes.
Well-being champion best practices:
Communicate: Champions should communicate with co-workers, managers, and executives through multiple types of communication channels to effectively serve as the source of information.
Engage others to build support: Champions help to create a culture of trust and respect so others get on board with well-being initiatives. Champions should make themselves accessible and inspirational, develop strong social networks, and work collaboratively with others. This helps to encourage and inspire change in the workplace.
Instigate change: Champions are the first to take on an organizational initiative and it is therefore crucial that they are among the first to instigate change. To inspire others to change, champions should challenge the status quo, generate and promote new ideas, and suggest ways to work collaboratively and pilot innovations.
Tips for building community and driving a well-being champion network
Mercury Insurance, a Limeade customer, built a strong well-being ambassador network through communication and connection. Here are a few best practices they followed:
Monthly Wellbeing Ambassador Huddle-Up’s
Multiple ambassadors per location (28 Office Locations across the U.S.)
Distribution list for sharing of ideas and inspiration
Quarterly well-being champion orientations
Well-being champion recognition with certificates
Senior leadership support of well-being champions
How Mercury Insurance built an initial well-being champion network:
Started with managers at different locations
Recruited others and met with HR for recommendations
Ambassadors had active and regular involvement including check-ins and consistent communication through email
Ambassadors sent emails from CEO to VPs and managers — raising the importance for them to support these ambassadors since they’re taking on the extra work