Wellness Champions Help Fuel Activities Based on Organic Interests

Program runs on volunteers’ enthusiasm for helping colleagues develop healthy pursuits

Wellness Champions

Developing a strong culture of wellness in any organization means nurturing active employee participation. To encourage caregivers across Cleveland Clinic to get involved in programs and activities that support their well-being, the Employee Wellness Team instituted an exceptional program called Wellness Champions.

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The program uses a network of enthusiasts (called Wellness Champions) who deliver information and provide encouragement regarding wellness offerings that are available to caregivers. “Having Wellness Champions in place throughout the organization makes it easier for our caregivers to find access to well-being resources and wellness programs,” says Regina Chandler, Executive Director of Cleveland Clinic Employee Wellness.

Anyone with a love for wellness can be a champion

Any caregiver who has a strong interest in wellness and is committed to promoting and coordinating wellness programs in the workplace can volunteer to be a champion. They serve as extensions of the Employee Wellness Team and can spend as much time as they have available in the position. They also enjoy having some autonomy over the wellness programming in their area.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all role,” says Matt Reifsnyder, Employee Wellness Program Manager. One of the benefits of having organic local programs, he adds, is that it allows the champion to create and facilitate customized programs.

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“Our Wellness Champions do a great job in adapting and adjusting offerings based on what works best in their location,” Reifsnyder says. “They know, based on input from their own committees, what their colleagues are interested in doing – whether it’s an evening walking club, a lunchtime yoga class, a simple newsletter or something else.”

For example, Wellness Champions from the PACU team at Cleveland Clinic’s main campus have organized pop-up events in which they offer tea, healthy snacks and wellness information, such as “yoga-on-the-go” cards to caregivers. And Wellness Champions from the Nursing Informatics team schedule a daily walk at noon. Nurses who are not on shift can walk and talk with their colleagues via a phone conference line as well.

Champions serve as catalysts

Wellness Champions can serve for as long as they would like but they are asked to commit to at least a year initially. Their main duties are to:

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  • Be a liaison between Employee Wellness and the caregivers in their department.
  • Serve as a resource for encouraging healthy behaviors.
  • Participate in and inform fellow caregivers about wellness activities.
  • Educate their colleagues on the wellness resources available within the organization.
  • Lead by example.

Wellness Champions across the organization meet together monthly via conference call to share ideas and best practices. There are currently about 250 across Cleveland Clinic locations, including Abu Dhabi, Canada, London and Florida. Recruitment is ongoing, and anyone who has a passion for wellness and desire to volunteer for the role can apply.

“The Wellness Champion program has been very effective,” Chandler says. “It helps with scalability of the wellness programs and helps them go viral in a sense. It gives power to the Wellness Champions who, working alongside their colleagues, can help keep wellness top of mind and dive right into activation of programs.”