Healthy workplace

14 Wellness Challenge Ideas to Build a Healthy Workplace

The success of your business depends on your employees. Keeping staff healthy, productive, and happy, however, presents challenges for small businesses. Humans are complicated. Any aspects that go wrong can affect your staff’s mood and effectiveness.

To help overcome these difficulties, your management strategies need a varied mix of engagement and retention programs. 

Some businesses use wellness challenges to motivate employees at work and build a workplace that values well-being. These activities aren’t only inexpensive, but also encourage staff to adopt healthy habits.

Here are 14 wellness challenge ideas you can use today:

1. Walking 

Walking not only improves health, but also helps increase creative output by an average of 60%, according to a study from Stanford University.

A walking challenge will encourage your employees to stay active. They can record their steps using apps like Strava. The person with the most steps can receive a gift as a reward.

2. Bringing your pet to work

Study shows that having pets in the workplace reduces stress and increases employee morale. Pets can also bring people closer together as they’re a great topic for conversations.

Have one or a few days of the month when employees can take their pets to work. Organize small pet contests during break and prepare toys or treats as prizes. These activities can cheer up everyone at work with good laughs.

However, as some people are allergic to pets or scared of pets, you may need to discuss with employees first before adopting this wellness challenge idea.

Related: 10 Tips for Celebrating Take Your Dog to Work Day

3. Taking the stairs

If you work on the 5th or lower floor, this is a great choice for a wellness challenge. This activity, however, may be a little more difficult for companies located on the 30th level. 

Encourage staff to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Keep a chart so participants can check off each day they use the stairs. Reward the top winners with a meal or a gift card.

4. Creating laughters

According to the New York Times, having a good sense of humor can relieve stress and anxiety that arise during difficult times. Laughter helps release endorphins and forge connections between people. This can be helpful during the pandemic when people face more mental struggles than usual.

Have a stand-up comedy night where you encourage your employees to share funny stories. You can also organize an online get-together online for those who are working remotely.

5. Healthy eating

Proper nutrition is a crucial component of maintaining good health. But building healthy eating habits is one of the most difficult things to keep up. 

Employers can provide healthy meals made of healthy ingredients or organize healthy-eating challenges.

If offering catered meals is something you can’t afford now, you can create accountability groups where employees share recipes, meal plans, and prep tips or motivate each other to eat more healthily.

6. Doing yoga

Fitness challenges are healthy ways to engage employees while having meaningful purposes. Organize short yoga sessions or share yoga moments through Zoom. 

There are plenty of free yoga videos on YouTube with easy poses, so you can practice together without worrying too much about wrong posture or injuries.

7. Drinking more water

We all know how important it is to drink enough water, yet it can be difficult to make hydration a habit. 

Employers can help by ensuring that clean water is readily available around the workplace and by hosting a water-drinking challenge. 

Encourage employees to keep track of how much water they drink each day, and reward those who drink the necessary glasses per day (maybe with another glass of water?).

8. Meditation

Meditation promotes physical and mental health. You may have heard about its benefits a million times, everywhere.

You can challenge your employees to incorporate meditation into their lives by offering onsite meditation classes or subscriptions to meditation apps such as Headspace

Or simply organize meditation group sessions where participants sit together and meditate for a few minutes.

9. Quit smoking challenge

Smoking is terrible for us in so many ways. Despite knowing the long list of reasons for giving up smoking, many people still can’t quit.

Even though it’s hard to encourage people to quit smoking when they don’t want to, try to challenge smokers to quit.

Give employees who smoke adequate resources and tips on how to quit smoking. Set milestones for them. People who haven’t smoked for a month, a quarter, or a year can receive small gifts or congratulatory cards as incentives.

You can even go a step further by inviting smokers’ family members to join. It can be difficult to quit when the surroundings encourage them to continue smoking.

10. Sleep challenge

The consequences of lack of sleep are terrible. According to a Harvard University study, “In the short term, lack of sleep can impair judgment, mood, learning, and memory of information, and increase the risk of serious accidents and injuries. In the long run, long-term lack of sleep can lead to various health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even premature death”.

Such a long list, isn’t it? *sweat

In other words, please make sure your employees have enough sleep, especially if your employees work on shift. Shift work is notorious for messing with workers’ sleep and health.

In a sleep challenge, employees can use a sleep tracking app to record their hours of sleep each day. Participants who can show records of adequate and healthy sleep habits can receive cool sleep-related prizes such as sleeping masks, pillows, etc.

11. Financial wellness challenge

Personal finances are one of the ten most common causes of stress. To ensure employees can control their financial situations or at least ease a part of their financial burden, you can make this a challenge, too.

A financial challenge can include many steps, from taking an investment course, finishing a finance book, creating a savings plan, or sharing a no-buy plan with the team. 

You can either reward employees for every step they’ve achieved or establish an accountability group. Some businesses help by offering financial support programs and loans, or providing books and resources on finance.

12. Sustainable living challenge

The simple goal of sustainability is to create and maintain an environment where people and nature can coexist in harmony.

You can challenge employees to bike to work, make meals from organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients, or create a voluntary group to clean the beach, etc. Each act of saving the planet is a point and you can give a small gift to the person with the highest points.

13. Support group challenge

When you have a group to share your thoughts with, you don’t only release stress, but also get to hear about others’ opinions and solutions.

Host a support circle every week. Each participant can voice their own thoughts, then others listen and give their opinions. Groups that can maintain consistently for a long time can receive rewards.

It’d be even better if you can divide your employees into different groups for different purposes. That way conversations are more focused and get appropriate attention. For example, people who only want to vent may enter the conversations differently from people who suffer from anxiety.

Remember to establish safe rules so that everyone can feel comfortable sharing without being judged or appearing incompetent. Also, you may need to stay outside of those support sessions as some employees are uncomfortable talking in the presence of management.

14. Gratitude challenge

Adopting gratitude practices enhances positive emotions, which results in better health and more resilience in difficult situations.

Create a group chat where everyone can share 3 things they’re grateful for each day. Make it a choice for employees to share or not. Don’t force them.

You can also encourage employees to practice giving thanks and showing gratitude to others. Staff can write anonymous notes saying thanks to coworkers. A great way to show acknowledgments and put a smile on your employees’ faces.

Some people may struggle to express their emotions and personal feelings, so providing a list of gratitude activities they can do can be thoughtful.

Try these wellness challenge ideas today

Taking care of your staff’s well-being is crucial and probably not easy. 

Employees suffer from physical and mental problems because of various reasons. Whether it’s because of long working hours and pressure or insufficient rest and lack of fun, their well-being and work performance will be affected.

Try the wellness challenge ideas above to create a more engaging and healthy work environment. You’ll soon see that they bring positive effects to employees’ mood, health, and effectiveness.

Read more: 15 Employee Engagement Ideas You Should Try

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