“We started with a slightly skeptical group, but by the end, they were energized and identifying ways to apply it in their own work.” -Pam Wagar, Associate Director, College of Informatics
Northern Kentucky University has formed a small team of champions (NKU Strong committee) that have been working to build the internal capacity and culture necessary to increase wellbeing for staff and faculty. As part of this effort, NKU is embarking on a program aimed at training a critical mass of individuals to be facilitators who will then spread awareness and application of character strengths across the University. Currently, the first group of trained facilitators is starting to conduct their own character strengths trainings with energizing results. Working with Fatima Doman, an executive coach, NKU has trained 21 individuals to facilitate trainings and exposed 41 participants to the training across 13 departments, with more individuals and departments asking to get involved.
But character strengths training is not the only piece in NKU’s initiative to increase wellbeing. A lesson learned from a trip to Universidad Tecmilenio in September was that technical education around wellbeing and character strengths is likely not enough to realize the impact NKU is looking to have, there is also a need to focus on creating a cultural shift that supports wellbeing and happiness.
With this in mind, the NKU Strong committee is augmenting the training program with efforts to build relationships and shift culture. NKU is engaging with individuals across the University to create strengths champions and activate a diverse group of people in the work. The committee has identified 19 potential champions to help drive the work forward. A branding and communications plan is also underway to spread awareness and consistent messaging around wellbeing. To begin to shift the culture, departments within NKU have been engaging in fun and casual ways to practice character strength application and wellbeing activities. Small things like positivity practices and dressing up like a character strength for Halloween are starting to energize staff and make character strengths an approachable and meaningful concept for NKU employees.