Hope is on the horizon. The spring of 2021 brings new promise—not only for the renewal of nature, but the possibility of life reaching some level of normalcy again.
This time of rebirth is a great time to get employees amped up for fun new wellness challenges. But with many employees still working at home, wellness challenge ideas for remote workers might be hard to find. You’ll need to be creative and find ways to connect people regardless of where they are.
WellRight has more than 400 challenges for both individuals and groups that range in intensity and effort. You can download our Challenges eBooks to access them now. In the meantime, though, we’ve come up with six broad categories of wellness challenge ideas that you could explore. They could be just what your employees need to feel the new promise of spring this year.
Six Categories of Springtime Wellness Challenge Ideas
1. Drink Your Water
2. Get Your Fitness On
3. Feel Good
4. Take It Easy
5. Be With People
6. Stay Within Budget
Let’s start with something that benefits everyone—drinking more water.
1. Drink Your Water
There’s no questioning the benefits of drinking water. It helps with digestion and eliminating waste from the body, it helps our bodies function, it contributes to weight loss, and water can make your skin glow.
How much water we need to drink, though, is a hot topic. Depending on who you talk to, the recommendation may be the “eight ounces, eight times a day” theory or a more recently recommended evaluation based on activity level, metabolism, climate, and weight.
While regular water consumption may be standard for some employees, drinking water could be a foreign concept for those who guzzle soda and coffee all day. That’s why a water challenge is ideal right now. WellRight's "Go H2O" Challenge invites you to replace one or more beverages (soda, juice, coffee, alcohol, etc.) with water for 30 days. You choose how aggressive you want to be by deciding which beverages you will give up.
In the same way that a dry January may have helped your employees reset the new year, a springtime water challenge can be the set up for a healthy summer.
Water challenges can be done anywhere, whether your employees are at home or in the office. You can create a seven-day water challenge—where employees replace all other drinks with water—or a challenge for employees to set daily water consumption goals. Just make sure to direct everyone to your wellness platform for tracking.
Create Positive Triggers
To help employees succeed, encourage them to set up triggers as reminders. They can set an alarm to fill up their water bottle, schedule text message reminders from their wellness program platform to take water breaks during the day, or even keep water bottles on their nightstand, desk at home, and in the kitchen. All of these triggers are intended to help them succeed.
Along with water challenges, spring is a perfect time to tackle physical fitness.
2. Get Your Fitness On
Your employees will be at varying levels of physical fitness, especially now. Some may be in the best shape of their lives, while others may have struggled to stay active over the past year. This spring offers a ripe opportunity to encourage physical challenges that will inspire healthy habits. In fact, they just may be what your employees need to get back into the swing of their workouts, yoga practice, or whatever physical fitness routine appeals to them.
Weekly Exercise Challenge
Encourage employees to set a weekly exercise goal for themselves—140 minutes per week, for example, which is roughly 20 minutes per day. This is a great starting point for anyone just starting or getting back into a routine and can easily be adapted to just about any fitness level (even gentle, seated stretching can count!) Regardless of what type of exercise they do, have employees track their progress and make sure you reward effort, not just results.
A challenge that has proven effective with our clients in previous years has been the Air 1,000 challenge, where participants exercise outdoors for 1,000 minutes a month, or roughly 33 minutes a day. It can be in the form of walking, running, biking, rowing, or some other activity. We’ve also had great results with mile-marker challenges where employees run, walk, or bike a set number of miles during the month.
Make It Social
We are all craving social interaction, so make your physical challenges more social and fun. Consider a virtual workout buddy program, where employees partner with each other to provide encouragement and accountability.
Use your wellness platform or an internal social channel like Slack to earmark a space for employees to share workout ideas, videos from some of their favorite online trainers, and even their own workout routines. Provide as many opportunities as possible for your employees to connect and feel optimistic about their work, their health, and their lives.
Speaking of feeling optimistic, let’s look at some emotional wellness challenge ideas.
3. Feel Good
It’s been a long year. A cold winter in the Midwest has made it feel even longer. Your employees have likely not been outside as much as they normally would be, regardless of weather—they’re due for some Vitamin D. Being outside in the sunshine and fresh air can help improve mood and create a long-overdue sense of optimism.
Our clients’ employees have responded well to our Hello Sunshine challenge. It’s pretty simple: Employees track their time spent outdoors with a goal of at least 10-15 minutes for a minimum of 10 days in a month. Offer extra points for spending an hour or more outside during the weekends.
Have employees track their time in your wellness platform and consider having them keep a journal to track how that time spent impacts their mood. If you have a coaching component to your wellness program, make sure to have coaches check in with employees on how being outside helps improve their mood and mental health.
While your employees are focused on being more positive and optimistic, add another category of wellness challenge ideas that help them with something none of us do often enough: relax.
4. Take It Easy
Decades ago, we didn’t need to challenge people to relax. It was part of daily life to wind down and put work aside to spend time with family and friends. But now, we’ve become a society of workaholics and worry-aholics, with our phones delivering a fresh dose of work (and existential) stress before bed, in the mornings, and even on weekends.
Even leisure time may not be that much of a respite if employees have been in sustained close quarters with their families or roommates for the past year. Fortunately, a couple of relaxation-themed wellness challenges can help employees take a deep breath and unclench.
In this type of challenge, employees can pick from any number of things they consider to be relaxing and commit to logging 500 minutes of relaxation per month.
It doesn’t seem like a lot of time—only eight hours or so—but taking that much time for just themselves may be a struggle for pulled-every-which-way employees. This makes Chill Pill a good challenge for incremental rewards or incentives, so you’re reinforcing the important message that every bit helps.
Here are a few ideas for employees to choose from:
- Mindfulness meditation and yoga
- Getting lost in books or interesting magazines
- Listening to music (even more relaxing if done in a comfortable chair with the eyes closed)
- Listening to nature, whether it’s outside or a virtual soundscape like a Japanese garden
- Taking a long bath or shower
- Spending time on a favorite craft or relaxing hobby
Watching a favorite show or movie, especially if it’s funny—laughter can release tension and improve the mood. (It’s pretty hard to stay tensed up while watching Moira Rose butcher the pronunciation of “Herb Ertlinger”.)
Another positive and mood boosting relaxation tactic is to visit a botanical garden or even pick fresh flowers for the home. Research shows that when people are around fresh-cut flowers, they are more compassionate, less worried, and less depressed. Potted plants can create this effect as well, so encourage employees to go greener—easy-care plants like pothos, spider plants, and snake plants bring the relaxation benefits of greenery without the “Why are its leaves doing that?” stress.
Of course, while plants are great, employees might be most excited about wellness challenges involving other living things: namely, people.
5. Be with People
Yes, we are moving in the right direction with more vaccines making it possible to be with other people outside of those you live with. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidelines that address how and when your employees can be with other people who have also been vaccinated. Allow employees to use their own caution and make sure to honor their comfort levels while you encourage them to be more social with these wellness challenges.
Whether it’s with immediate or extended family, or even with close friends, have employees participate in scheduled game nights. The options are endless:
- Board games such as Life, Sorry, Monopoly, Risk, and other multi-player games
- Card games such as Bridge, Euchre, Hearts, and Gin
- Outdoor games such as lawn darts, Bocci ball, and cornhole games
For extra fun, suggest that they schedule a tournament like the March Madness tournament with elimination rounds. This is your employees’ opportunity to let loose and have fun with family and friends—as long as everyone is being safe and conscious of social distancing requirements and thresholds.
Another idea for social wellness is scheduling lunches with a buddy, whether that’s one or more of their children, a spouse, a colleague, or a friend. Set a goal for a number of lunches, from once a week to 10 lunches per month and give your employees a reason to get out and be around people in a safe way.
Before employees break the bank with all of these lunch dates, however, offer up some challenge ideas that focus on financial wellness.
6. Stay Within Budget
One of our popular financial wellness challenges among clients encourages employees to wait up to seven days before making online purchases. Online shopping has skyrocketed over the last year with consumers spending more of their shopping dollars on ecommerce sites than in stores. The ease of this type of shopping can create a quick pathway to overspending.
With our financial wellness challenges, employees can work on creating a budget and setting spending levels for the month. Then they can practice waiting to pull the trigger on purchases. Not only does this save money, it helps them determine what they really need versus what they want.
Financial wellness challenges are perfect for employees to work on with their coaches. They can set goals and check in regularly to talk about what they are thinking about purchasing and why. Often, people find they are making purchases for emotional reasons—to make themselves feel better—rather than because they can’t do without that item.
This challenge can even apply to grocery shopping. With the introduction of Shipt, Instacart, and other grocery delivery services, challenges that are focused on staying within a set budget can help employees get their spending on track.
Speaking of groceries, consider a challenge that involves employees finding creative ways to use what is in their pantries and refrigerators before buying more food. This type of challenge can help them save money and potentially improve eating habits. If you create a space on your employee wellness portal or internal social channel for recipe sharing, it can also create more opportunity for social interaction.
Springtime is all about fresh starts, and this year, we’re all craving that. These wellness challenge ideas are just a sample of the hundreds of challenges that WellRight has developed and helped clients successfully implement.
If your workplace wellness program needs a refresh, WellRight can help. Contact us to talk about your unique company and employee needs.