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Editorial

How boundaries help wellbeing champions succeed

the-crucial-role-of-boundaries-for-wellbeing-champions

When I talk with clients about employee wellbeing champions groups, one of the things I find myself talking about a lot is boundaries. I cannot overstate how crucial they are.

Wellbeing champions are usually volunteer groups of employees who provide worker representation on wellbeing-related issues in a workplace. They serve many important purposes from being the workplace’s eyes and ears on wellbeing to acting as culture amplifiers, promoting and role-modelling the desired culture.

In my experience, wellbeing champions are inherently passionate and they take on the volunteer role to help others. However, experience also tells me that wellbeing champions can easily find themselves in situations where the lines have become blurred. This isn’t usually a champion’s fault – it might be due to poor role clarity, lack of communication about the role with staff, or it could be that the champion’s efforts to help someone have overstepped the mark, causing things to get out of hand.

Real-life boundary issues that have been shared with me include:

  • a staff member becoming too dependent on a champion as a reliable listening ear
  • being contacted outside of work hours (for one client, this happened late on a Saturday night), or
  • being pulled into a heated he said/she said conversation that needed to be escalated pronto.

Of course, context matters. It may be that your organisation is a 24-hour operation, and your champions are available for phone calls late on a Saturday night. Or, it may not be appropriate. The key here is to help your wellbeing champions set boundaries and know what’s ok and not ok. Maintaining boundaries is essential not just for their safety but also for the wellbeing of their peers.

 

What are boundaries?
Boundaries are the limits we set to protect ourselves. They can be physical, psychological, or emotional barriers defining what is acceptable and unacceptable in our interactions with others. Boundaries help us to maintain a healthy balance between our professional responsibilities and personal wellbeing. Clear boundaries ensure we can effectively manage our roles without overextending ourselves.

 

3 Top tips:

Here are three top tips for maintaining boundaries as a wellbeing champion:

1. Establish clear role expectations
Clearly define the role and responsibilities of wellbeing champions. Provide written guidelines that outline what is expected of them, including specific duties and boundaries. Regularly communicate these expectations to both the champions and the wider staff to ensure everyone understands the scope and limitations of the role.

2. Set and communicate boundaries
Encourage wellbeing champions to set personal boundaries and communicate them effectively. This includes specifying appropriate times for contact and the types of issues they can handle. Providing training on how to communicate these boundaries can help champions avoid issues that become problematic.

3. Provide support and escalation channels
Ensure that wellbeing champions know they are not alone and have access to support when needed. Establish clear escalation channels for issues that go beyond their scope or expertise. Regular check-ins with a designated support person or team can help them navigate challenging situations and maintain their wellbeing.

Of course, we can never prepare them for every possibility in the workplace (I call it ‘sending them into the wild’). However, we can give them the necessary awareness and tools to recognise and manage boundary issues effectively.

Want to help your champions set boundaries? Check out our Wellbeing Champions Training courses (public and bespoke).

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