Wellbeing champions are too often the unsung heroes creating culture change around mental health in their organisations.
But 2023 is set to be the year that changes.
A charged, passionate network of wellbeing champions is now a must-have for any successful mental health and wellbeing strategy.
So, how does your organisation go about harnessing this awesome force for change?
Let’s start from the top…
What is a wellbeing champion?
Put simply, a wellbeing champion is anyone responsible for promoting positive mental wellbeing within their own company.
They are the drivers, influencers and agents of cultural change around mental health within organisations, and they are the glue between leaders and their people.
The role of a wellbeing champion may look different in different organisations, but it can be broken down into five major areas:
- Raise awareness of wellbeing activities and initiatives
- Challenge the stigma around mental health
- Actively listen and signpost colleagues to support
- Build trust, demonstrate compassion, and respect confidentiality
- Collaborate with other champions (and networks) to share best practice.
Every organisation has people who are passionate about mental health and wellbeing. But not every organisation is using them to their full potential.
Sometimes wellbeing champions have a formal and wide-ranging role, sometimes it’s far less clearly defined. Far too often, champions aren’t being used effectively, and often they aren’t being used at all.
As organisations wake up to the importance of wellbeing champions, the challenge is how to maximise their power.
Why are wellbeing champions important?
Wellbeing champions fly the flag for workplace wellbeing. They are the beating heart – and eyes and ears – of a wellbeing strategy.
Wellbeing champions are often more in the know and more trusted in an organisation than the management layer.
83% of people trust information from a peer. Just 15% believe company messaging.
Done right, peer-to-peer programmes can have just as much power as anything top-down.
Champions are more than just a mouthpiece. They are an ear to the ground, listening to people and providing leadership with crucial insight into the realities of employee mental health and wellbeing.
Real, lasting change takes a whole organisation-approach. Your champions are the ones who can help you reach every corner and every layer of your organisation.
Common mistakes organisations make when they set up a wellbeing champions network
Mistake 1: Not training your champions
Far too often, companies decide to recruit champions but have next to no plan on what to do with them once they’re onboard. If you’re not careful, you end up with a big group of people who want to make a difference but don’t know where to start.
Mistake 2: Not defining the role of a champion clearly enough
Champions need to understand what their role is and, just as importantly, what it isn’t.
Champions aren’t expected to be mental health experts. They need to understand the support available and listen actively to colleagues so they can signpost to support. They aren’t there to diagnose or counsel and they should never feel pressured to go beyond their own personal boundaries.
Wellbeing champions need to be trained and empowered, but also to be given the space to do their thing. They should be aware of their responsibilities and know they will be supported to meet them.
Mistake 3: Not communicating the benefits of the role
It’s obvious what an organisation stands to gain, but what’s in it for them?
Champions should know that they will get to shape the future of their organisation, connect with likeminded people they wouldn’t normally meet, and develop a host of transferable skills that will fire up their LinkedIn profile.
Beyond that, your wellbeing champions should know that they will be valued, appreciated and supported, as any champion deserves to be.
How to start setting up a wellbeing champions network in your organisation
If your organisation doesn’t yet have a wellbeing champion network, it’s time to get started.
The good news? We’re giving away our champions training for your employees free until the end of 2023, and a toolkit to help you manage them.
From recruiting and onboarding, to inspiring action and measuring impact, the toolkit will guide your organisation through the process of creating, maintaining and sustaining a successful wellbeing champions network. It’ll also help you measure the impact of your champions.
Sound good? Get the training and toolkit here.