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Top Tips for Health and Wellness Promotion

by Kylie McLean ASEBP | November 9 2017

Is it just me or have you also felt frustrated or rolled your eyes at a “Top # List” (also called a listicle) you’ve read on the Internet or in a magazine? From listicles like Top Five Ways to Relieve Stress, Top Eight Ways to Make it Big or Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Zombie Apocalypse….they’re everywhere! I mean, I would have Googled it earlier if someone had told me there were only three things I had to do to become a billionaire.

Even before I began my career in health I had a strong dislike for those listicles, with their tendency to seemingly oversimplify complex issues—particularly when it comes to health. To no one’s surprise, our health and wellness is complex, dynamic even, and I don’t know if any listicle recommendations could encompass all the complexities of well-being.

What about the Workplace?

Being a champion at work to promote wellness can be challenging. Can the complexities of health and wellness be summed up in a few key strategies for wellness champions to support the work you do? Do the solutions to these challenges lay with simple strategies to getting started? I am here to say YES, embodying the role of a wellness champion does not need to be complicated and, from my experience, there are a few “top” strategies to kick-start health and wellness promotion in your workplace. So here it is folks—once a non-believer of listicles—I’ve compiled a special one for you with some help from a few wellness promoting pros I know!

Six Tips for Wellness Champions

  1. Wellness matters. As a wellness champion, you may come across resistance from those that do not perceive promoting wellness as important in the workplace. Collecting data, feedback and information about the needs of all parties involved may help you to show others the importance of wellness, and that’s clearly a priority for Peter, the associate superintendent with Clearview Public Schools:
      “There are many preconceived ideas that wellness is not a direct benefit to staff. Health and wellness initiatives need to include good key messages and data to support the benefits of moving forward on initiatives. Reporting back and surveying staff helps to reinforce those benefits.” – Peter
  2. Remind yourself, it’s about the people. If you’re having moments of doubt in your role as a wellness champion, reflect on who you’re impacting by the great work you do—it’s the people! Students, co-workers, families and the school community at large. Cheryl, programs and projects manager with Edmonton Catholic Schools, reminds us that even small actions from an individual can have a big impact:
      “What I have found to be the most interesting factor about promoting health and wellness is that everyone is able to relate personally to the topic and they understand how important it is in their lives and the lives of their students. It only takes one champion to create a movement within a school community!” – Cheryl
  3. Start small. The best advice about health promotion I’ve ever received is to start small. Just get the ball rolling and once things gain some momentum you may start to discover creative strategies to promote health and wellness that’s specific to your workplace. My colleague, Peggy, reflects on your ingenuity
      “I’m always surprised at how far school jurisdictions and communities can stretch limited resources when they think and act creatively!” – Peggy
  4. Together is better. According to Lorna, school health program coordinator from Alberta Health Services, empathy, understanding and working together can have a profound impact on the wellness of our communities:
      “When we seek to learn from others, we are forced to put aside judgements. I have altered a famous quote and now remind myself: ‘seek first to understand…then decide if you need to be understood.’ May we all enjoy the privilege of learning from and with our colleagues, friends and family.” – Lorna
  5. Communicate clearly. Many challenges can be addressed by improving our communication. In order to work well with co-workers, students and partnering organizations, it’s critical to have a common understanding and clearly communicate the goals and priorities of each. Like Stéphanie, a fellow workplace wellness liaison, notes:
      “Health and wellness promotion can be faced with many challenges; however, I believe that many of these challenges can be addressed through teamwork and communication. It’s like the saying “two heads are better than one.” By focusing different minds on a challenge, we can often come up with more effective solutions.” – Stéphanie
  6. Celebrate. This is often the overlooked step in our strategic plans. To keep our stamina up when it comes to promoting health and wellness, celebrate accomplishes not matter how small, just like my friend and colleague, Gillian, points out in her blog.

And there you have it—a great list to get you going on your workplace wellness journey! Comment below on what you think is a top strategy for wellness champions to promoting health and wellness.

Kylie McLean

As a registered dietitian, 'Snow White' (as Kylie affectionately calls herself) is a food superhero—protecting her fellow eaters from the most complex of food labels. Her super skills have given her the ability to bake a banana chocolate chip muffin that will leave you speechless—which more than makes up for her inability to execute a whistle or comprehend the consistency of sidewalk chalk. It’s so chalky!