In the first two articles of our four-part series, we explored the ways in which executive wellness can both improve a company’s financial standing and promote and foster an organization’s culture of health.
In Part 3, we’ll explore the benefits of Wellness Champion programs—specifically when they are led by senior leaders and managers.
Before we narrow in on executive leadership, let’s examine the mandate and workings of a Wellness Champion Program. This kind of program selects passionate, energetic individuals within an organization, and tasks them with spreading the word about wellness opportunities to other teams/employees.
Wellness Champions may also be charged with encouraging participation in wellness intiatives; serving on Wellness Committees; and organizing wellness events. They may even facilitate wellness programs and Lunch and Learns. Additionally, Wellness Champions collect feedback from participants of existing offerings within an organization so that leadership can keep doing what works, and tweak the programs that aren’t serving their organization.
Successful Wellness Champion Programs amplify the impact of in-house wellness offerings; increase opportunities for internal communication within an organization, and provide important opportunities for employees to be truly heard.
The question remains, then, how can an organization ensure that their Wellness Champion Program succeeds?
The answer lies in choosing and developing the right champions!
Why Executives are Ideal Wellness Champions
As industry-leader Virgin Pulse suggests…“A successful champion program needs to begin from the very top of an organization. It’s critical to get executive (and union) support and commitment. And, those leaders need to demonstrate that commitment through their actions and their communications.”
Aside from the permission and power factors, there are other reasons senior corporate leaders make great Wellness Champions.
As we mentioned in our last installments, leaders who actively engage in wellness initiatives, set healthy examples for their employees and lead by example, will assuredly inspire employees to follow suit. And in turn, those employees will help nurture thriving work cultures where putting one’s health first and foremost is not only encouraged and “good for business” but is seen as amplifying employee’s personal, career and family well-being.
We also need to think about the character traits that exemplify an ideal champion. Great Wellness Champions are “passionate, have strong social skills and often serve as program advocates and role models to their peers.” Does that skill set sound familiar?
Many of the traits we look for in wellness champions are also traits that exemplify strong leaders, the types of individuals that are likely to already be placed in leadership roles within an organization.
But that’s not all. It’s a champion’s job to strategically communicate wellness opportunities to other employees. And it’s an executive’s job to create and maintain strong communication channels within an organization.
When an executive embraces and operationalizes the role and mandate of a “senior level wellness champion”, the two roles will combine to create the type of healthy communication crucial for a thriving, productive work culture.
And here’s another compelling reason for executives to lead an organization’s wellness champion network. According to Stefan Gingerich, a senior research analyst at the StayWell Institute, the act of serving as a Wellness Champion will also serve to advance their own growth and wellness journey. In fact, he argues, it can be extremely beneficial if they have not yet achieved their wellness goals, but are willing to model their personal progression for other employees. 
Why is this relevant for executives? As we reviewed in this series’ first installment, healthy executives are good for business. And dedicated Wellness Champions work hard on their personal health goals in order to become better role models for fellow employees.
If an organization can marry the two positions and encourage executives and upper management to join or lead its Wellness Champion network, all employees stand to benefit. A top-down culture of wellness will be formed, and executives will be solidly confirmed on a path to better personal health, one that can only benefit all areas of organizational operations.
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a better understanding of the value of cultivating senior level and employee Wellness Champions within your organization, and can now appreciate the benefits of senior leadership driving the creation and success of such.
In Part 4, the final installment of our series, we’ll provide you with “next-steps” to becoming an Executive level Wellness Champion.
About the Author:
Lisa Kelly, President, Workplace Wellness Centre of Excellence (a division of KWC Inc.), has been cultivating healthy changes within workplaces and with personal clients for over 20 years. Through her “Workplace Wellness Leadership Certification Series” and Executive Wellness Leadership Programs, Lisa’s mission is to create an innovative and collaborative landscape for global workplace wellness that fosters employee-driven, results-oriented wellness solutions that benefit employers, employees, and communities at large.
 Seaverson, Erin, “Tips on creating a ‘wellness champion network’ for your workplace,” https://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/how-to/human-resources/2015/09/tips-on-creating-a-wellness-champion-network.html
 Gingerich, Stefan, “Success with wellness champion networks, Part I: Define and understand,” https://www.staywell.com/insights/success-with-wellness-champion-networks-part-i-define-and-understand