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Connecting the Wellness Dots

by Shandy McLean ASEBP | July 20 2017

A few months ago I had the good fortune of attending a conference targeted to professionals working in the field of health benefits (Bullseye! That’s me!). Not surprisingly, many of the delegates shared their ideas about the importance of employee and workplace health and how, as champions, we can learn from each other’s experiences to help us achieve success. Huzzah—jackpot!

Making the Job of “Wellness Champion” Legit

One employer spoke passionately about the need to make the role of wellness champions—called wellness advocates in his organization—a clearly defined role, much like a regular job posting even if it’s taken on in a volunteer capacity. The act of doing so legitimizes the role within the organization and emphasizes that it should be taken seriously—with expected duties and outcomes. Having a formal job description also provides supervisors/managers with information to help identify people on their teams who have shown an interest or aptitude for this area and ensures potential candidates or volunteers have a clear understanding of their roles and the expected commitment. Combined, this information encourages a good fit between the champion and the role and reduces the likelihood of turnover. Did you know The Sandbox has an entire section of resources around creating a committee to help you?

Create a Win-Win

If your workplace wellness committee is bursting with fabulous ideas but running low on resources (like time or money) to run a program or initiative, consider recruiting student helpers from local colleges, universities or training centres. A conference presenter reminded delegates that many health-related professions require students to complete practicum hours or have a healthy volunteer portfolio. In exchange for your commitment to providing a safe learning opportunity that aligns with their vocational or education goals, you can find a solution that’s win-win for all parties. You can get access to enthusiastic learners who are keen to practice their skills and share their knowledge in support of your program/activity, and students have the opportunity to gain experience in a real-world practice setting.

A Match Made in Wellness

Another way to get ‘bang for your buck’ efforts is to connect people with health by promoting locally accessible resources. A presenter from B.C. shared her experience of working with a local orchard to provide samplers of locally grown produce—cherries in the summer and apples in the winter—for her staff meetings. As a workplace wellness champion, she provided her colleagues with information about the nutrition and health benefits. She also provided information about where the fruit could be purchased in their local community—everyone wins! For more information to set your meetings up for healthy success, check out some Eat Smart Meet Smart resources.

If you think these ideas are worth exploring, consider one more tip. To ensure successful partnerships, it’s very important to work with community resources who share a mutual goal of promoting healthy foods and/or products. Staying away from producers of unhealthy foods or products that encourage sedentary behaviour, for example, ensures your collaborative actions align with your workplace health strategy, goals and campaign messages.

Wishing you the best in your wellness planning all year long!

Shandy McLean

With a background in social work and a masters in health promotion, 'Shamu' (yes, like the whale) is a tireless advocate in the public health arena and ASEBP’s former director of Health Strategies and Stakeholder Engagement. We know that her questionable claims of being 'related' to actress Claire Danes is a way of coping with her crippling fear of sharks. But it’s okay—we’re all in this together, Shamu.