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Building a Wellbeing Champions Network – Q&A with Crossrail

Q&A with Christina Butterworth, Crossrail. Setting up a champions network.

When it comes to building workplace wellbeing, harnessing the resource of your people through a Wellbeing Champions Network is a tried and tested way to drive the long-term sustainability and impact of your wellbeing strategy.

We spoke to Christina Butterworth, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Specialist at Crossrail about working with Robertson Cooper in setting up a Wellbeing Champions network.

What were the reasons for deciding to set up a Champions Network at Crossrail?

Crossrail is a client organisation, managed by a variety of contractors, so we knew delivering a wellbeing programme across all sites presented a challenge. There are lots of contractors over many sites, but ultimately there’s only one me! The solution was to create a network of Wellbeing Champions responsible for promoting and delivering the wellbeing programme locally.

How did you recruit for the network?

We simply asked for volunteers, from each site across the organisation, who wanted to take it on as part of their day job.

How did you get things started?

The network kicked off with the first of a series of monthly forums, to set the boundaries and objectives for the Champions roles. Robertson Cooper facilitated a session to introduce the Champions to the Wellbeing Commitments in our Health and Wellbeing Strategy. The result was that the Champions created a list of actions around against each of the six points in the strategy, and set out the resources needed to support it.

When it came to resourcing, it was more about time than money really, although there was a budget available for each site if needed for certain initiatives.

How were the Champions supported to achieve their objectives?

They had monthly forums to provide new resources, where they were encouraged to share success stories, ideas and challenges, which enabled the champions to support and learn from each other.

We also set up an online Sharepoint to give all the Champions access to wellbeing related resources.

In year one, Robertson Cooper ran workshops for Champions to build their skill and confidence in having effective conversations about wellbeing.

In year two, Champions had a workshop on Motivational Interviewing – a technique used to encourage health related behaviour change in others.

Can you give us an example of some of the Champions key activities?

The champions delivered a range of topics throughout the year from the Wellbeing Calendar, via monthly 20-minute “toolbox talks”. Robertson Cooper worked with us on it, adding psychological aspects to each month’s themes. Topics covered tended to link in with national campaigns, like Dry January, Mental Health, Diabetes etc.

Were any controls put in place?

Yes, it could get a bit scary if people just go away and become ‘Google experts’ so there had to be some element of control. Health and safety advisers were overseeing this, and we made use of the Sharepoint collaboration site to share best practice.

What would you say were the benefits of using Robertson Cooper to manage your Champions Network?

One big one is that it’s just me! and when we started looking at the wellbeing side of things, I had other big projects on. I already knew Robertson Cooper, as organisational psychologists, and as we needed help with co-ordination, and making sure the messages going out were evidence-based, that was a big factor in partnering with you.

And what were the ‘big wins’ with the Champions Network–what has been a success?

The fact that wellbeing is on every site, and that it’s more than just ‘Fruit on Fridays’ – it’s live and visible, there’s a person behind it and there’s management support for doing it, with the management team out there promoting wellbeing and getting involved.

Would you recommend setting up a Champions Network to other organisations?

Yes, definitely! Particularly if like us they are on multiple sites, with different contractors like us. We couldn’t have done it any other way.

Interested in setting up your own Wellbeing Champions Network?


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