Research shows that employees who are engaged in their health and wellbeing are less likely to be absent from work and more likely to be productive while at work. In fact, American Journal of Health Promotion reported that wellness programs contribute to 25 percent lower absenteeism, and lower health insurance, workers’ compensation and disability insurance costs.
With May being Global Health and Fitness Month, employee fitness challenges are an economical way to infuse health and wellness into the workplace.
According to Kandi Lannen, director of wellness at Priority Health, many of your employees will know where they could use a little improvement, whether it’s nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, sleep, financial peace or weight management. An employee fitness challenge that’s relevant to their specific target area can help inspire and encourage them to make a change. The length of your challenge should be based on how long it will take for the individuals involved to feel that they’re making progress.
Incentives play a big role in the success of employee wellness challenges. Consider having everyone pay $5 to participate and divide the winnings among the employees who are able to maintain the healthy habit throughout the challenge. Or you could throw a healthy party for those who complete their challenge. It doesn’t have to be financially-driven; recognition goes a long way.
Here are some great employee challenge ideas to try:
Physical Activity Challenges
• Counting steps: Encourage employees to wear a pedometer or device that tracks steps. (If it’s in the budget, providing the pedometer is a nice gesture.) Set a minimum number of steps to reach each week.
• Be active: Set physical activity minute goals each week. Encourage employees to track their activities.
• Stair climbing: Encourage employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Count the stairs climbed each day to reach an established goal.
• Daily fruit and vegetable servings: Experts recommend five to nine servings a day. Challenge employees to trade the sweets for fruits and veggies.
• Water challenge: Encourage employees to switch soda or juices for water. Consider providing a standardized water bottle to all employees to make measurement easy, i.e. the goal is to finish three bottles while at work.
• Meal planning/sharing: Compile a healthy cookbook with recipes shared by employees or start a lunch time potluck where everyone brings a healthy dish to pass.
• Breakfast Club: Award employees for eating a healthy breakfast. For many people, the first step to a healthy breakfast is eating it.
Stress Management Challenges
• Laughter challenge: Laughter can be the best medicine, especially when having a stressful day. Have employees take a moment each day to exchange jokes, stories or videos.
• Learning challenge: Have everyone commit to trying a new activity or class. Whether it’s taking an education or exercise class or trying new recipes, getting out of comfort zones can be exhilarating and rewarding.
• Compassion challenge: Encourage employees to volunteer at a local charity or community event. It feels good to give our time for a worthy cause.
• Stress busters: Provide employees with 10 free minutes a day to relax, meditate, deep breathe or just close their eyes.