What is Wellness Connection?
Wellness Connection is Washington University’s wellness program. It is designed to enable a healthy mind and body.
Washington University strives to provide a valuable employee experience – one that includes resources and programs to help employees thrive at work and outside of work.
In partnership with University experts, Wellness Connection offers opportunities for employees to improve their physical and emotional wellness. We do this with a specific focus on developing evidence-based programs and by making personal connections that provide employees with valuable and fun experiences to improve health.
Our vision is to foster a culture that prioritizes employee wellness as integral to the mission of teaching, research and patient care.
Learn more here: hr.wustl.edu/wellness-connection/
What is a Wellness Connection Champion?
Wellness Connection Champions are WashU employees interested in fostering a culture of wellness in the workplace.
Champions work with Wellness Connection to personalize the employee wellness experience by:
- Talking with colleagues and supervisors to understand their department’s unique needs;
- Innovating wellness ideas and sponsoring wellness activities within their departments;
- Communicating wellness initiatives to colleagues and encouraging them to participate;
- Providing feedback on existing programs, which influences future programming;
- Utilizing the tools and resources provided by Wellness Connection to encourage participation and engagement from their colleagues.
Champions sign on for an initial two-year term and then renew on an annual basis.
Learn more here: hr.wustl.edu/wellness-connection/champions/
Who can be a Wellness Connection Champion?
Any WashU employee who meets the following criteria can volunteer as a Wellness Champion:
- Passionate about a healthy workplace culture;
- In good standing with the University and their department;
- Completed the new-hire 6-month probationary period;
- Participates in Wellness Connection programming;
- Supports university initiatives and assists the Wellness team in meeting program goals;
- Has the support of their supervisor and attends at least 2 quarterly meetings each year.
What time commitment is involved?
Time commitment can vary based on how involved you want to be. Generally, Champions can expect to dedicate 1-3 hours a month to their role:
Read & share newsletter
Participate in wellness programs
Optional: Join the leadership committee and attend monthly 1-hour meetings
Attend 2-hour luncheon
Complete the activity tracker survey
Complete program evaluation
Optional: host a dedicated screening event
Optional: Meet with Wellness Connection team to personalize wellness for your department
Can there be more than one Champion in a department?
Yes. Several departments have more than one champion and find that having multiple perspectives results in a richer, more diverse experience. Multiple champions can work together to personalize wellness for their department by:
- Taking turns going to quarterly luncheons;
- Balancing the internal needs of your department while supporting Washington University campus-wide wellness priorities.
What's the value of having a Champion in my department?
A healthy employee is a happy, engaged employee:
- Research shows that a strong culture of health and wellness has been linked to organizational outcomes such as improved employee health, productivity, and retention;
- Employees who are engaged and thriving also have greater agility and resilience – they are better able to react well to stress; and
- Wellness Champions can help a manager identify the needs of their office and work with Wellness Connection to offer feasible solutions, resulting in a more engaged and productive workforce.
Supporting the University’s wellness program can be a great way to send prospective employees a message as a way to attract and retain top talent and show that you care about your employees.
Different departments, job types, and levels within the organization have different experiences and interests. Your Champion represents your department and can tailor the employee wellness experience to fit your employees.
According to Lamar Pierce, WashU Professor of Organization & Strategy and Associate Dean for Olin-Brookings Partnership:
“When you give people the tools and the opportunity to be physically and mentally healthier, it’s not just that they’re more likely to be at work, those employees are also more likely to be productive”.
Dr. Bradley Evanoff, Director of the Division of General Medical Sciences, is studying the use of a participatory approach for engaging workers in the design of health promotion interventions. Using human-centered design, the participatory teams are tasked with creating a workplace that better supports their health. Early research findings indicate that creating an effective participatory health team in your department could help workers feel positively towards the workplace: increasing job satisfaction, reducing turnover, and improving both business and health outcomes.
How can leadership support their department Champion(s)?
Executive leadership has the power to affect a top-down cultural change within their departments. Deans and Directors can show their support to middle management and employees by:
- Working with supervisors to accommodate employee participation in Champion activities during the workday;
- Announcing this volunteer opportunity and notifying your employees & supervisors you would like a Champion(s) in your department; and
- Identifying teams or groups where you think a Champion would be beneficial and provide Wellness Connection with a supervisor contact there.
Employee wellness? Great! How can I support this University initiative?
By participating in and talking about wellness opportunities, you foster a culture of health and well-being within your department. Show your support by:
- Participating in Wellness Connection programming;
- Encouraging your employees and colleagues to participate; and
- Make it easy for your employees to engage by accommodating their schedules as much as possible to allow them to participate during the workday.
Where can I learn how workplace culture affects employee engagement?
- Hidden Benefits of Corporate Wellness Programs: olin.wustl.edu/EN-US/Faculty-Research/research/Pages/hidden-benefits-corporate-wellness-programs.aspx
- Employee Engagement: Conceptual Issues www.abacademies.org/articles/jocccvol10no12006.pdf#page=117
- Think Health St. Louis: St. Louis Partnership for a Healthy Community www.thinkhealthstl.org/index.php?module=Tiles&controller=index&action=display&alias=toolsresources
- Perceptions of Worksite Support…American Journal of Health Behavior www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19063651
Contact Nikki Hafner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 314-935-7734 for additional information about the Wellness Connection Champion program.