Corporate wellness challenges for employees may be nothing new for some teams, especially those who have years of experience working for a company with a health program. Those who are about to have their first taste of employment might find these wellness challenges fun and even exciting.

Companies that make an effort to conduct workplace wellness challenges regularly, they end up with happier employees. More importantly, they will reap the long-term benefits of keeping their workforce of sound mind and body.

But what are corporate wellness challenges, and how do they work exactly?

What Are Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees?

Corporate wellness challenges are tasks that are assigned regularly and are designed to achieve a fitness or health related goal for employees. These challenges might be conducted daily or weekly, depending on the agreed mechanics or rules of the tasks.

The tasks themselves could be simple. A common example is the Daily Steps Challenge, which challenges employees to hit a targeted number of steps every day. 

Other challenges could take the form of a game that’s either played by individuals or by teams. To maximize employee participation, corporate wellness challenges are typically constructed to be fun activities that are not too tiring.

So why hold corporate wellness challenges for employees in the first place? What benefits can they offer to a company and its workforce? The answers to those questions are coming right up. 

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Fitness Challenges for 2022

8 Desirable Benefits of Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees

Benefits of Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees

Yes, corporate wellness challenges offer numerous benefits for individual employees. They also provide advantages for the whole team or even the entire organization. 

Here’s why.

1. IMPROVEMENT IN PHYSICAL HEALTH

Some workplace wellness challenges are designed to promote physical fitness among employees. The Daily Steps Challenge is one such case in point.

Fitness challenges are particularly beneficial for employees who may not have time to exercise at home or during weekends. This is usually true of employees who often have to take care of their kids or family during their off-hours, leaving no time for themselves to indulge in physical activities.

This is where fitness challenges can provide a form of exercise. Albeit minimal, the physical activity encouraged by daily challenges can go a long way in preventing rapid weight gain, chronic diseases, and other conditions.

The physical activity encouraged by daily challenges can go a long way in preventing rapid weight gain, chronic diseases, and other conditions.

What are great examples of fitness challenges? Refer to the list below.

RELATED: WellSteps Physical Activity, Healthy Eating, and Emotional Health Challenges

Quests. Here’s a daily steps challenge we offer here at WellSteps. This challenge aims to help participants reach 10,000 steps every day. Those who complete this “quest” will receive the “treasure.”

Bicycle Challenge. This challenge encourages employees to ride a bicycle on their way to work. The purpose is two-fold:

  • motivates people to complete a physical fitness challenge (pedaling their bikes to work every day)
  • helps them save on fuel expenses (plus, hurray! for lowering planet Earth’s carbon footprint) and commuting costs

Fitness Classes in the Office. A classic example is scheduling yoga classes during strategic times throughout the business day. Although companies can always decide to diversify their fitness classes to include office workout sessions, Zumba classes, or zero equipment Crossfit training.

corporate wellness challenges

Here at WellSteps, we offer the following on-site physical activity challenges:

  • Daily 30. Employees complete 30 minutes of exercise each day and then track their progress.
  • 1,000 Reps. Employees who complete a thousand repetitions in two weeks get a prize.
  • Bring It On! A fitness challenge to end all fitness challenges!
  • Three-A-Days. Employees are challenged to perform three 10-minute-long exercise breaks every day.

Virtual Fitness Classes. Because of the risks posed by COVID-19, various companies have allowed most of their employees to work from home. Obviously, fitness classes in the office may no longer be possible due to health protocols and social distancing rules.

But the good news is that fitness classes can continue online and still bring great benefits. All you need is a qualified instructor or a member of your team who is willing to lead the virtual sessions.

RELATED: 13 Corporate Fitness Programs That Lead the Pack in 2022

2. PROMOTING OPTIMAL MENTAL HEALTH

No employee is a stranger to stress at work. Heavy workloads, deadlines, neverending calls and emails, and tons of paperwork can take their toll on the mental well-being of even the most cheerful employee.

And if left unchecked, stress can lead to burnout, which obviously can negatively impact the employee’s overall performance. Stress can also lead to rapid weight gain and unhealthy sleeping and eating patterns, among other concerns.

Corporate wellness programs can hold mental health challenges, which can alleviate stress and even teach employees to follow best practices for keeping their mental health intact.

What are common examples of mental health challenges? We can think of a few!

Take Care of YOU. In this WellSteps meditation challenge, we ask employees to spend some time every day focusing on just themselves.

Mindfulness Matters. In this WellSteps mindfulness task challenge, we encourage employees to spend some time every day being mindful.

benefits of corporate wellness

Stress Down. In this WellSteps burnout prevention challenge, we ask employees to perform a stress-relieving activity for ten minutes each day.

Sweet Dreams. This is a sleep challenge we offer here at WellSteps. It promotes good mental health habits by encouraging employees to get a good night’s sleep every day (at least seven hours of sleep).

Time Management Challenge. This corporate wellness challenge encourages employees to complete any day’s assigned tasks without overtime. It works by giving incentives to those who can maintain optimum productivity levels without staying extra hours in the office.

Did You Know?

The American Institute of Stress reports that 80 percent of workers experience stress while working. And 25 percent have claimed that they felt like screaming due to work-related stress.

RELATED: 10 Tips to Implement Mindfulness in the Workplace

3. INCREASED EMPLOYEE PRODUCTIVITY

It goes without saying that a physically healthy and mentally sound employee is a more productive employee than one who isn’t. 

Corporate wellness challenges are not only good for physical and mental stimulation, but they can also boost an employee’s productivity, concentration, problem-solving capabilities, and even creativity. 

Obviously, an employee with good physical fitness and mental well-being is less likely to be absent from work. Of course, if your workplace wellness challenges provide extra motivation for your employees to always show up at work, that’s a big bonus for your productivity goals.

Did You Know?

The American Psychological Association reports that 91 percent of employees are motivated to be more productive if their company supports them with workplace wellness programs.

how to increase employee productivity with wellness

4. STRONGER TEAM RELATIONSHIPS

Corporate wellness challenges for employees can promote stronger team relationships on two fronts—between the employer and employee, and from one employee to another.

As mentioned earlier, people are more likely to be more productive at work if they believe that their company cares for their well-being. 

People are more likely to be more productive at work if they believe that their company cares for their well-being.

The result is that the employer-employee relationship can go beyond mere employment contract obligations. There is more trust and commitment between the two sides in forging a legitimate partnership.

As for employee-to-employee camaraderie, participation in fun corporate wellness challenges allows them to interact and mingle with fellow officemates without the pressure of job delivery. More importantly, they can see their colleagues as real folks with distinct personalities and charms, and not just the people they happen to work with every day.

RELATED: 24 Ways Employers Can Help Manage Stress at Work (Use Them Today)

5. INCREASE IN EMPLOYEE JOB SATISFACTION LEVELS

It is true that companies often offer competitive compensation packages in a bid to attract the most qualified or skilled professionals in the job market.

But salary and compensation packages are not the only important factor that can determine whether a person will work for that corporate organization or not. It turns out that job satisfaction is crucial too.

In this day and age, job satisfaction is more than just the satisfaction derived from a job well done. It can refer to the overall feeling of contentment that the employee is in the right place, that they belong, and that the company does not view them only as a money-making machine.

Job satisfaction is more than just the satisfaction derived from a job well done.

Corporate wellness programs can serve as proof that the company not only values its employees as professionals but also as human beings. Yes, people are more than just business tools.

increasing employee job satisfaction

6. REDUCED EMPLOYEE TURNOVER RATES

Having high levels of job satisfaction in your workforce not only directly leads to happier employees and improved productivity. It can also result in lower employee turnover rates. 

Businesses cannot underestimate the importance of employee retention. Keeping key employees in your organization ensures the smooth continuity of your operations and consistency of work quality.

If you have a high employee turnover rate, you will likely have to commit considerable resources to replace and train new hires who will fill the void left by former employees. Not only will this affect your bottom line, but it will also affect workflow leading to bottlenecks, missed deadlines, and overall client dissatisfaction.

During the transition, productivity levels might be affected as new personnel adjust to the natural learning curve.

Moreover, having high employee turnover rates can affect your reputation as an employer. People may not be as eager to join your ranks, knowing that your company tends to lose employees.

Corporate wellness programs can do their part in preventing high employee turnover rates. If your employees know that you value their well-being, not only will they stay, they just might actively recruit others to join your team too.

Did You Know?

The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) reports that 73.9 percent of companies view the well-being of employees as an important factor in the recruitment and retention of personnel.

7. BUILDING GOOD HEALTH HABITS AMONG EMPLOYEES

Make no mistake about it—employee wellness challenges are not supposed to be life-changing activities. But participating in them can spark a habit-forming routine that promotes health and well-being among employees.

For instance, the Daily Steps Challenge won’t turn your employees into triathletes all of a sudden. But it serves as an example of a routine that, when done regularly and consistently, no matter how small, can provide health benefits in the long term.

Moreover, when one individual is forming good health habits, they can motivate others to join in. A collective effort breeds better support among fellow participants than just one person doing it all on their own.

You can leverage certain corporate wellness challenges to encourage your employees to create good health habits. Nutritional challenges are quite helpful, especially in replacing bad eating habits with good ones. 

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges

Can’t think of any? Here are our suggestions.

  • Go for H20. Believe it or not, dehydration is real in the workplace, and if unchecked, it can cause loss of focus, tiredness, and headaches. To counter this, we at WellSteps promote a hydration or drink water challenge that encourages employees to stay hydrated during the day.
  • Beat the Sweets. This WellSteps healthy snacks challenge encourages employees to avoid snacks with high sugar content for a couple of weeks. 
  • Fruit It Up. One of our healthy meals challenges here at WellSteps involves eating fruit each day to emerge victorious in a game.  
  • Eat Your Vegetables. Yet another WellSteps healthy meals challenge that encourages employees to eat at a minimum of three servings of vegetables daily.
  • Breakfast Boost. This healthy meals challenge introduces five healthy breakfast habits for employees every day.
  • Healthy Cook-Off Challenge. You can organize a cooking challenge occasionally. We suggest that you allow the different departments in your company to compete against each other. 

Did You Know?

Results of studies suggest that good health habits can be contagious. Humans are by nature social beings, which means that group activities, like employee wellness challenges, will naturally attract more joiners over time.

building healthy habits with employees

8. REDUCED HEALTHCARE COSTS FOR EMPLOYEES

In terms of healthcare cost savings, corporate wellness challenges can positively impact both employers and their employees.

Various health-related issues cost companies billions of dollars in healthcare costs every year. But businesses can mitigate these costs with carefully constructed workplace wellness programs. 

By investing in these programs, companies can help make their employees healthier, happier, and more productive in the years to come.

Also, some employees often contribute to the overall cost of their employer’s healthcare plans, either directly through premium insurance payments or indirectly via coinsurance agreements. With better health, those costs are significantly reduced.

RELATED: How Effective Health Programs Can Reduce Health Care Costs

Did You Know?

According to the United States Chamber of Commerce, 6 out of 10 employees claimed that corporate wellness programs lowered their company’s healthcare costs.

Dos and Don’ts of Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees

No workplace wellness program is 100 percent perfect. But you can create a pretty effective one if you follow best practices, especially in conducting your corporate wellness challenges.

DODON’T
– Incentivize participation in challenges
– Respect employees’ privacy
– Use positive reinforcement but let employees motivate themselves
– Track improvements in routine-building
– Create challenges that are too hard
– Punish employees who don’t participate
– Focus on weight statistics and body measurements
– Allow shaming of any kind

One of the best practices is to incentivize participation in the wellness challenges. 

Wellness programs can only be successful if enough people take part in them. One key is to refrain from making your challenges too difficult to perform. Choose doable tasks that can be fun and attract participants.

To jumpstart participation, it is always a good practice to provide rewards for those who join, and of course, prizes for those who end up winning any challenge.

What you should not do is force participation. And it is absolutely important that you do not punish those who could not join. If you do this, you create an atmosphere wherein you do not respect your employees’ wish to decline.

Each person has a right to privacy, including keeping their reasons and health information private.  What you can do instead is foster an atmosphere of encouragement. Allow your employees to take some time to decide. And when they do decide to join, you’ll know that their motivation comes from within and not because of any policy.

As for those already participating in the wellness program, empower them with positive reinforcement. Better yet, teach them to track their progress. Focus on percentages of improvement and celebrate any good health habit they’ve formed. 

But don’t focus too much on raw numbers concerning weight or body measurements. And never ever tolerate shaming of any form. Remember that corporate wellness challenges are supposed to be inclusive.

To Recap …

Corporate wellness challenges are important components of your wellness program. Apart from the numerous physical and mental health benefits they offer, these wellness challenges can also work wonders for your company, especially in:

  • promoting better productivity,
  • reducing employee turnover,
  • forging stronger team relationships,
  • lowering healthcare costs, and
  • increasing job satisfaction for your employees.

There are different types of corporate wellness challenges. The most common categories are:

  • physical fitness challenges
  • mental health challenges
  • nutritional challenges 

And in case you were wondering, it is possible (we’d say essential!) to customize your wellness challenges to be extra engaging. But always remember that these challenges are meant to promote your employees’ well-being. They aren’t just fun and games.

When conducting workplace wellness challenges, you can get better results by following proven best practices. They include:

  • creating challenges that are not too difficult to complete
  • incentivizing participation but not forcing employees to join
  • respecting their privacy
  • using positive reinforcement but discouraging shaming
  • using proper metrics for tracking improvements, instead of focusing too much on raw statistics like weight and body measurements

This may all sound like a lot! But you certainly don’t need to create an entire series of employee challenges or a full wellness program alone. Here at WellSteps, we can do all the heavy lifting for you and get you the support you need.

We want you to see all of the benefits we’ve talked about in this post today. So we invite you to schedule a free demo with our team and explore what options you have.

Learn-What-Issues-Matter-For-Millennials-Wellness-Programs

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.