As a workplace wellness champion or someone serving on a workplace wellness committee, you have some sense of what will and what won’t work in your workplace. Still, it can be frustrating to work with a group of dedicated volunteers to come up with ideas only to have the uptake be less than overwhelming. At times, it’s tempting to just throw up our hands and say, “Well I guess people just aren’t interested.” Those eager volunteers begin to find other places to invest their energy and the whole thing just kind of fizzles out. What if I told you there’s a way to re-energize your volunteers and increase uptake of your initiatives? What if I also told you it was easy and fun—and maybe you get to wear a cool hat?
Try on a Few
Here’s what I suggest you do: become a bootleg researcher. I don’t mean smuggle your research across county lines with Sherriff Roscoe chasing after you. I encourage you to circumvent the formality and rigor that goes along with researching for ‘publication.’ Take the same curiosity and apply it with just enough structure to enhance your understanding of the people you’re interested in helping. Here’s how to get started:
- Be an explorer. Ethnography is the study of culture through careful observation and note-taking. What if the people on your wellness committee spent some time observing the culture in their workplaces as though they’d never seen them before? You might learn something very different observing the environment and activities around you without the burden of your assumptions and biases. Make detailed notes and share your observations as a wellness group.
- Be a journalist. Break out your trusty fedora, make a little sign that says ‘Press’ and sharpen your pencil. You talk to people all the time but do you ever interview them? The key to an effective interview isn’t so much in the questions you ask as in the listening. If you and your wellness committee each committed to three questions you wanted to explore and each went out and interviewed three people in your workplace, what would you learn? After each interview, reflect and note the one or two big ‘a-has’ then share them as a team.
This type of exploration is reinvigorating. When you feel like you’re more connected to the folks you’re trying to help, you can’t wait to get going. When you understand their wants and needs, you feel better equipped to help them. And finally, when you understand the environment in which they work, you’ll have a better sense of what fits and what doesn’t. Being curious, connecting with your colleagues, putting yourself in their shoes in order to support their workplace wellness—that sounds like a research project worth getting behind!