By Ann Wyatt, Vice President, Program Management & Engagement
Looking to increase employee participation and boost engagement in your wellness program? Build a network of wellness champions to help ensure your wellness program is successfully implemented and continues fostering a culture of health and wellness at your site. Wellness champions are company employees who, in addition to their day jobs, help build awareness and increase engagement of our wellness programs.
Our research shows that almost 75 percent of employees say a personal touch is important in their health, wellness and fitness program and seek a meaningful interaction with “live” experts who understand their lifestyle, habits and goals.
They also value connection. Employees say that having a sense of community with others who share their common interests and health goals influences their participation decisions and program satisfaction.
One way participants can receive this personal touch and connection is through a network of wellness champions.
Spread the health
Employers who designate wellness champions as ambassadors of the company’s program can leverage their positive experiences and enthusiasm to “spread the health” to their peers. Making an authentic connection with employees can get and keep them in a program and inspire them to become a role model for others.
For example, one of our on-site program managers leverages a wellness champion network of more than 30 employees to meet the needs of 13,000 employees at a leading manufacturing company. Employees at 20 sites throughout the country turn to the wellness champions as a resource, share ideas and ask questions.
Engage remote workers
Wellness champions also can help integrate and expand wellbeing efforts throughout an organization. Take the time to identify a few individuals who support and role model program efforts. Make them part of your wellness champion team and they will provide valuable insights and connections to reach dispersed and remote employees.
Building a wellness champion network
Here are three ways you can build grassroots support for your health and wellbeing programs:
1. Discover. Find individuals at the site level across your company who are passionate about wellness and are already taking action with their health. They should be believers in wellness and respected by their peers.
2. Empower. Give tools to your wellness champions that will empower them to inspire others. Consider assigning each champion a budget to personalize programs and make them meaningful to that site’s population.
3. Recognize. Encourage a member of your executive team to thank wellness champions for their role in bringing healthier behaviors to the company. Give rewards to wellness champions—such as company or wellness branded clothing and gift cards—to reinforce that you value their contributions.
At a large manufacturing company with more than 60 locations, over 12,000 eligible employees and 11 on-site promotion managers, there was a challenge to get the word out about wellness and engage workers at the sites.
The solution? The company established a wellness champion network that included one champion per site. Their primary role was to be an on-site point of contact and a voice for the wellness program.
Wellness champions support the wellness program manager by serving as the face of the program on-site as well as a change agent who promotes and delivers wellness programs. The hard work of the champion network paid off with the program earning a 99% satisfaction rate and 92% participation rate in 2016.
Please contact us to learn more about wellness champion networks and other solutions.
About the author:
Ann is Vice President, Program Management & Engagement. She has 25 years of experience in the health management and fitness industry. Her role includes strategy development and driving engagement for new and existing health management and corporate fitness programs, employee recruiting and training, program quality assurance and operations management. Ann holds a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Old Dominion University and a Master of Education in Exercise Physiology from Auburn University.