In recent years, wellness challenges have been gaining traction in the workplace as an important part of company wellness programs. Wellness challenges are new and improved team-building activities that also encourage healthy habits and behaviors, as well as get employees engaged in their company’s wellness program. The most effective challenges share some basic qualities; a good challenge should:
– encourage healthy competition in the workplace
– foster constructive/healthy behaviors and habits
– boost wellness program participation
– instill excitement and motivation regarding health
– cover a range of health topics and themes
– are fun and affordable
– offer incentives or rewards for participants
Get Employees Engaged
Keeping these goals in mind, there is an endless variety of existing wellness challenges to choose from, as well as the possibility to create your own. The primary health themes to consider when choosing or creating a wellness challenge are fitness and nutrition, emotional, mental, and financial wellbeing, and health risk management. Addressing these categories, here are some leading wellness challenge ideas to get you and your employees started:
- Fitness: The “Mile-Per-Day” program is a fun and creative challenge. Participants choose any aerobic activity and complete a minimum number of minutes every day to equal one mile. At the end of the month, gold, silver, and bronze medal certificates are awarded to the “racers” who achieved thirty, twenty, and ten miles, respectively. This challenge is particularly effective because it is inclusive; where step-counting and stair challenges disinclude individuals with certain health conditions or disabilities, the Mile-Per-Day challenge is accessible to virtually everyone.
- Nutrition: A fruit and vegetable challenge is a simple, yet effective way to educate employees about nutritional health and encourage changes in diet and eating habits. The American Heart Association recommends at least four and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day, although the average American should consider consuming anywhere from five to thirteen servings. This wellness challenge should require participants to eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. As a result, many people may discover new ways to incorporate these foods into their diet and may even find that they enjoy the occasional Brussels sprout. In the meantime, they will reap all the health benefits that fruits and veggies have to offer.
- Emotional Health: With so much focus on physical wellbeing, mental and emotional health often goes ignored. By promoting a self-fulfillment challenge, you can encourage employees to explore and fulfill their own emotional needs. A self-fulfillment challenge consists of signing up for an activity or class that the individual has always wanted to experience, such as horseback riding lessons or a Spanish language class. This gives them the opportunity to do something that makes them happy, which could result in lowered stress and greater work productivity and satisfaction. These activities do not need to be intensive or expensive; it could be as simple as taking a free cooking class at the local community center. As long as participants complete their activity or class, they win the challenge.
- Financial Health: Finances are a stressful part of most people’s lives. Instead of ignoring their financial situations, employees should be encouraged to address them. One challenge could be creating a personal or household budget, including rent or mortgage, groceries, supplies for the children, bills, and all other expenses. Remarkably, creating a simple, concise budget on paper does wonders for financial wellbeing and also instills a sense of security and control over one’s life and finances.
- Health Risk Management: Staying physically fit and eating healthy are great ways to stay in shape, but this is not always enough to ward off disease and illness. Challenge your employees to complete their HRA and participate in all other health screenings and vaccination clinics offered through the company. Putting off a doctor’s visit for an annual check-up is all too easy, but staying up-to-date on your health condition is a vital part of remaining healthy and happy.
These are only a few examples out of hundreds of great wellness challenge ideas. The possibilities are endless:
- Nightly Sleep Minimums
- Weight loss
- Smoking cessation
- Community outreach and volunteering
- Reading a book
- Daily stretches
Exploring the vast world of wellness challenges is a great way to keep employees engaged in wellness programs and encourage overall personal health and growth. To begin, consider the needs of your workplace: what health topics to employees seem to struggle with, what kind of challenge could they best benefit from, and what incentives would they most enjoy? As with all facets of a wellness program, challenges are not one-size-fits-all. Keeping your employees’ specific needs in mind will ensure that you create a fun, effective, and educational challenge for everyone.