Editor's Note: We recently updated this post with new insights.
As we head into a new year, employees everywhere are enjoying a fresh start and setting new and timely wellness goals.
But as temperatures begin to drop, so too can employee engagement. Chilly winter temperatures and snow days may be welcome treats after the holidays, but they also serve as effective barriers to exercising, eating healthy, and getting adequate sleep.
If your employees are struggling to stay motivated now that the holiday season is over, now is the perfect time to give them ideas for staying active, productive, and fulfilled long term.
In addition to supporting employees with a human-centered workplace and robust wellness offerings, you can inspire a new year of well-being with these six timely winter wellness challenges that address every area of well-being.
Top 6 Winter Wellness Challenges
Social: Gift List – Ask People What You're Good At
The holidays may be over, but who says the gifts have to come to an end?
Winter is often the time when people set goals for the new year and reflect on their strengths. As your employees look to grow, they can certainly discover areas of improvement on their own, but hearing what other employees and friends see in them can add much more value.
Asking others what you're good at is a great way to spark new ideas, build confidence, and start the year fresh with a positive outlook. These conversations also foster connection and break down barriers within your workforce across departments and hierarchies, especially when remote and hybrid workplaces make discussions as simple as a quick Zoom call.
Related Reading: Generation Lonely: How to Foster Social Belonging for Gen Z Workers
Occupational: Daily Plan – Start Each Day With a Plan
Having priorities and goals is one thing. Turning these long-term ideas into actionable plans is another.
It’s so easy for employees to become overwhelmed by the distance between where they are now and where they want to be at the end of the year. That’s where daily planning comes into play.
This winter wellness challenge is all about taking things one day at a time and adding intention whenever possible. When big goals are broken down into attainable milestones or checkpoints, then into daily tasks, achieving them is more straightforward and manageable.
Financial: Money Fast – Avoid Spending Money for 4 Days
Giving up alcohol for Dry January brings a wealth of health and wellness benefits, but did you know it can also help your wallet, too?
The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to review finances and put annual goals in place to help you save or invest for the future. A great way to start is by building a habit of saving rather than spending money on impulse purchases—which is sometimes easier said than done with post-holiday clearance specials.
This winter wellness challenge invites employees to not spend any money for only four days out of the month. The days don't have to be consecutive and can even be selected by employees. Small essential purchases like tolls or public transportation passes are exempt from the challenge, but eating out, groceries, and online shopping should be avoided or planned in advance.
Related Reading: Top 5 Ways Women Can Take Control of Their Financial Wellness
Emotional: Be Positive – Replace Complaints With Gratitude
We can’t talk about winter wellness challenges without focusing on mental and emotional well-being.
Positivity is powerful. It’s true that we all experience roadblocks, but an optimistic mindset can help us see opportunities in every challenge and become resilient in the face of adversity. One of the mind traps that erodes positivity is complaining.
One way to help employees break negative thinking patterns is by having them track how many times they complain each day. Then, challenge them to go one week without complaining, still tracking how many times they complain. They’re going to be amazed by how often it sneaks in, even when they try not to!
To take it one step further, encourage employees to replace each negative thought with a positive thought. Over time, that practice can evolve into a habit, with the goal of being positive long term.
Related Reading: 11 Ways Managers Can Positively Impact Employee Mental Health
Physical: Walk Meet – Walk and Talk It Out
Another way to feel good is through movement, something your employees may not get enough of during the winter.
Whether your employees are working from home, in the office, or both, they need to get up and away from their desks from time to time. This calls for a change in your employees’ routines.
Studies have shown that the simple act of walking can significantly boost creativity. In addition to holding Zoom meetings for remote workers, in-office teams can schedule "walking meetings" that take discussions outside conference rooms and into the world. Employees can even block off time during the day to "walk and talk" about project ideas.
This will not only give employees a break from sitting—it can also get those creative juices flowing and spark new, innovative ideas.
Related Reading: 4 Ways to Help Your Employees Create an At-Home Fitness Plan
Purpose: Picture It – Visualize for 150 Minutes
Let’s end the list with a little mindfulness.
Here’s a little-known technique that can actually help motivate your employees toward achieving their goals. Visualization is a great tool to optimize performance as it pertains to your employees' unique wellness journeys.
To help your employees bring their goals to life, invite them to visualize themselves completing the tasks that lead up to accomplishing their goals. By imagining themselves taking risks and facing fears, employees can prepare for obstacles and emerge more confident.
A great way to practice is by dedicating time daily for visualization. Encourage employees to see themselves taking action or reaching their goal for just five minutes each day to see how much it helps.
Winter can be a tough time for employees to stay motivated and focused on building healthy habits. But giving them options to keep them moving toward their goals contributes to engagement and improved employee health and well-being this year and beyond.