Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges, health and wellness challenges for the workplace, corporate health challenge, wellness challenges during covid, personal wellness challenges, 30 day wellness challenge ideas, virtual wellness challenge ideas, online wellness challenges, wellness challenges for remote workers

Before we talk about office challenge ideas and office fitness challenges, it’s important to ask:

What are worksite wellness challenges? 

Office wellness challenges are short-term behavior change contests, interventions, and team activities designed to improve health and employee morale. They can include:

  • team or individual participants
  • use of fitness trackers like apps or a Fitbit
  • animation and fun graphics to show progress
  • any health topic from exercise to sleep
  • social media integration
  • team comparisons
  • leaderboards
  • group texting

For example, one of our most popular WellSteps challenges is the Maintain Don’t Gain challenge. The holiday season is the time when we typically gain the most weight. The campaign works like this:

1) Employees download this tracking form or they use the WellSteps app.

2) They monitor their weight every few days with the goal of not gaining any weight at the end of the two week period.  If they are successful they will have passed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s day without gaining any weight.

3) They can track their weight on the form and turn it in, or they can report their weight online with the WellSteps app.  The challenge can be completed as teams or as individuals. Those who are successful earn points towards a significant discount in their health insurance costs.

This simple challenge helps employee stay focused on eating healthy foods in the right amounts. It helps them make it through the holidays without gaining any weight—which almost guarantees a healthy weight throughout the year.

Office fitness challenges and other challenges like this one are simple ways to encourage employees to have healthy behaviors. Challenges can be completed in teams or as individuals, and they can target an unlimited number of health behaviors.

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They are great ways to keep a wellness program fresh and interesting as they only last a week or two. Best of all, when reward points or incentives are given for successfully completing an challenge, employees get immediate feedback and motivation to maintain these new behaviors.

When they are integrated into a larger, more strategic wellness effort, challenges can be an important part of a wellness program.

Unfortunately, many wellness programs use office challenges more like employee perks than an important part of an effective wellness strategy.

Perks are fun, activity-based activities that may have little long-term impact on employee health or healthcare costs.

The chart below shows the difference between doing office challenges as simple employee perks rather than integrating them into a successful wellness effort.

  Challenges as a Perk Challenges Used Strategically
Wearable Fitness Tracker Use a fitness tracker for two weeks Provide incentives for those who demonstrate regular physical activity. Don’t buy and give trackers away, have employees bring their own or offer a discount. Use a wellness platform that will sync with the devices for easy data collection. Reward employees who are active or use their devices in team-based exercise competitions. Offer a series of challenges that can leverage the fitness tracker.
Healthy eating Eat healthy foods for two weeks Work with your cafeteria manager or vending machine vendor to offer price discounts for healthy foods. Reward employees who consistently make healthy food choices at work and at home. Have employee share healthy food recipes or healthy eating selfies with others. Extend this challenge by staring one that shows employees how to prepare healthy meals.
Fitness Track gym attendance Pay for gym membership but use gym participation data to reward employees who exercise regularly. Offer a health insurance premium discount to those who are regularly active.

Why Offer Office Health and Fitness Challenges?

Most employers offer office challenges for one of two reasons: 1) they want to improve employee morale and let the employees have some fun being healthy or 2) they want to use challenges as a way to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors and reduce health care expenses.

Here is a great article that talks about all the benefits employers get from having a wellness programs. Healthy employees are more productive and have fewer healthcare expenses. The best employers try to accomplish both objectives.

We know that 70 to 90% of all major chronic diseases are caused by unhealthy behaviors like a lack of physical activity, a poor diet, and tobacco use. Effective wellness programs are successful at helping employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

When employees have healthy behaviors they have fewer elevated health risks and fewer chronic diseases.  This translates into lower health care costs.

Besides improving employee health, office wellness challenges can also be a source of good, clean, fun for all employees. For example, in the Attitude of Gratitude challenge, employees are encouraged to write down one thing for which they are thankful every day for two weeks.

In the WellSteps LOL challenge, employees are encouraged to find humor in their day and share it with someone else. Challenges that are team-based are effective at helping to build team collaboration, camaraderie, and encouragement.

What is the Difference Between An Office Wellness Challenge and a Wellness Campaign?

WellSteps offers both office fitness challenges and office wellness campaigns. There is actually a big difference between the two. Office challenges are simple, 1 to 2 week tracking activities. A campaign is an office challenge on steroids.

Wellness campaigns can focus on a single health behavior but they are far more structured and designed to improve employee health behaviors. Good wellness campaign carefully follows well-documented behavior change models. They are designed to help employees adopt and maintain healthy behaviors.

Typically they last between four and eight weeks, include video instruction, motivation, education, tools and strategies, and ways to include supportive help from others. Campaigns take months and months to develop and test, while simple challenges can be done in just a few minutes.

WellSteps has developed over 30 behavior change campaigns.  Here is what happens each week of the Fast Food Guide Campaign. This campaign is designed to help employees make healthy food selections when eating at fast food restaurants. Anyone can use the Fast Food Guide for free using this app.

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This is just one example of a wellness campaign. If you follow the right guidelines, anyone can develop wellness campaigns.  Here is everything you need.

Most worksites do no more than four wellness campaigns in any given year. They take a considerable amount of effort to complete, but when employees do complete them they have everything they need to maintain healthy behaviors.

Challenges, on the other hand, are ideal strategies to implement in between campaigns. Because challenges are usually just one or two weeks, they make for quick fun and motivating behavior change activities that don’t require a lot of effort.

The Best Way to Administer Office Fitness Challenges

1) Let Employees Pick the Challenge

If you want to have a successful office challenge, let the employees pick which challenge to do. Give a list of approved challenges to your wellness committee or other employees and let them decide which one they would like to schedule. If it’s their choice they will be far more likely to engage and participate.

Animated fitness challenge called Daily 30. Employees compete while they complete 30 minutes of exercise everyday

2) Announce the Challenge in Multiple Ways and at Multiple Times

We get inundated with notices and invitations. To make sure your office challenge ideas are successful you’ll need to communicate early and often. Here is a poster WellSteps clients use to let them know that there is a challenge in the near future:

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Before the challenge actually starts, employees receive emails, text messages, announcements and meetings, posters, and explanations of how many points and rewards they can get when they do participate. Thankfully a good wellness platform can automatically handle all of these tasks.

3) Make it Easy to Participate

A good wellness platform will automatically enroll every employee in every challenge. Obviously employees don’t have to participate if they don’t want to, but the software is ready to receive participation data from all who choose to participate.

Non-English speakers should be able to participate in their native languages. WellSteps has a large selection of office challenges have already been translated into Spanish.

If a challenge relies upon data from a mobile fitness app or wearable fitness device, this data should be automatically synced with each participants wellness account. Again, a good wellness platform will take care of this and make it easy to sync any device.

For example, employees who are participating in the two week Move It challenge will automatically have their activity data uploaded from their wearable device to their account. They don’t have to do anything except exercise every day for two weeks.

Their participation is automatically verified and automatically qualify to earn their wellness incentive points or rewards. They can even see how others are doing and share a common team leaderboard.

Employees that don’t have a fitness app or wearable device can also participate by using the WellSteps app.

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Employees that do not have access to a web enabled device can print out a PDF of the challenge and manually enter their data. They can still participate, have fun, and get credit for completing the office challenge. This does require the wellness coordinator to update their account.

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4) Have Fun!

At the end of the day wellness programs should inspire, challenge, and invigorate your employees to be healthier and happier.

If your wellness program isn’t fun, it needs to be changed.

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The fun wellness activities are the most popular ones! A well thought out and fun activities can create buzz for weeks.

Here are some of the more popular office challenges used by WellSteps.  These are in addition to the 35 campaigns in which our clients participate.

50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges

Burpee Do as many Burpees as you can in 1 minute
Daily 30Exercise for 30 minutes every day
Double Duty Move Your BootyDo as many push-ups as you can and then go for a 15 minute walk every day
Fresh ExerciseDo a new form of exercise than what you normally do
Lunge Carefully do as many lunges as you can in 1 minute
Park and WalkPark farther away from the entrance of all places you drive
Plank ItDo a plank exercise for at least 1 minute
Plan to Be ActivePlan a way to include exercise into your schedule
Push UpDo as many push ups as you can in 1 minute each day
Sit UpDo as many sit-ups as you can comfortably do in one set each day
Squat Do as many squats as you can in 1 minute
Step It UpInstead of the escalator or elevator, use the stairs everywhere
Stretch It OutStretch every day
Walk It OutTake a 15 minute walk every day
A Spoonful of Sugar-freeNo sugary foods or beverages
Breakfast BoostEat a healthy breakfast every day
Fruited UpEat three servings of fruit each day
Get the Red OutCut out processed and red meats from your diet
Go for H20Drink 64 oz of water each day before consuming other beverages
Good GrainyEat two servings of whole grains each day
Healthy LunchMake a healthy lunch or snack substitution every day
Maintain Don’t Gain /DecMaintain or lose weight over the next 2 weeks
Maintain Don’t Gain /NovMaintain or lose weight over the next 2 weeks
Master ChefPrepare three healthy meals from the WellSteps recipe section each week
No Night Time MunchiesNo eating after 8 pm
Plan to Eat WellSet and keep a specific nutrition goal
Restaurant RehabUse The Stop and Go Fast Food Guide to make healthy food choices
Shop and Eat HealthyUse The Stop and Go Grocery Guide to make healthy choices when shopping
Snack DownNo unhealthy snacks every day
Stop the PopNo soda or juice
Veg OutEat at least 3 servings of vegetables every day
Watch the PlateLimit portion sizes every day
White OutCut out processed foods for at least one meal each day
Attitude of GratitudeWrite down one thing for which you are grateful every day
Breathe In Breathe OutTake 3 minutes a day to practice a deep breathing technique
Kindness CountsDo an act of kindness each day
LOLFind humor in your day and share it with someone else
No Phone ZoneEliminate cell phone use anytime when driving
Stress DownComplete a stress relieving activity for 10 minutes each day
Sweet DreamsGet 7-8 hours of sleep every day
Unplug and UnwindStop electronic device use one hour prior to bedtime every night
Cash No CardPut your credit cards away and use cash for purchases
Cut the ClutterSpend 5 minutes cleaning your work space, car, home or yard every day
Early 30Wake up 30 minutes earlier and do something productive
Emergency Prep RecordsGather all pertinent records for yourself and your family in one location
72-Hour KitCreate an emergency 72 hour kit
Floss Like a Boss Floss every day
Go for the GoalSet a goal, write it down, post it where it is visible, and do it every day
Stop the BuzzNo more than one alcoholic beverage a day
Watch your WalletTrack your daily spending

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.