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6 Winter Wellness Challenge Ideas to Boost Employee Well-being

Winter Wellness Challenge IdeasIt’s a new year! That means new beginnings and a fresh start for all of your employees.

While it may be easy to stay motivated shortly after the New Year, colder weather and shorter days can ultimately wane the best of wintertime intentions. For your employees struggling now that the holiday season is over, this is the perfect time to give them ideas for staying active and productive instead of hibernating on the couch.

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 and deeply helpful winter weather challenges that address every area of wellness.

They’ll keep employees moving, guide them toward reflection and motivation, and help them emerge from winter stronger than they thought possible.


Social ChallengeSocial: Free Advice – Get Inspired By a Mentor

Mentors are great motivators, and who doesn’t need a little more motivation in the cold weather?

Winter is often the time when people set priorities for the upcoming year. Your employees can certainly create their personal and professional goals on their own, but talking with professional and personal mentors can add so much more to the process. Conversations with supporters and influencers are a great way to spark new ideas, build confidence, and start the year fresh with a positive outlook.

One way to support this challenge is to ask the inspirational, formal, and informal leaders in your organizations to make themselves available for employees to talk. In some companies, being able to talk to a senior leader and get valuable advice is rare. These conversations also create more connection and break down barriers within your workforce across departments and hierarchies, especially when remote and hybrid workplaces make discussions as simple as scheduling a quick Zoom call.Remote Work Resources for More Engaged Employees

Occupational ChallengeOccupational: Daily Plan – Start Each Day With a Plan

Once your employees have their priorities set, this next winter wellness tip can help put them into action.

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. It’s all about taking things one day at a time, with intention. When big goals are broken down into attainable milestones or checkpoints, then further into daily tasks, achieving them is more straightforward—and manageable.

Financial ChallengeFinancial: Piggy Bank – Lean on a Financial Advisor

Another wellness challenge for your employees is to get their financial house in order. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take a look at financials and put annual goals in place to help you save or invest for the future.

Most likely, at least one of your employees’ goals will be financial in some way. Achieving that goal may require more than just planning—it also helps to talk to a financial expert. They can help navigate the nuances of financial wellness and help employees set themselves up for success, both in the short term with their goals for the year and long term as they look forward into retirement.

A great resource to lean on is your financial benefits provider who should have a wealth of references and resources for financial planning and guidance. That way, your employees can put their paychecks to work.

Emotional ChallengeEmotional: Be Positive – Replace Complaints With Gratitude

We can’t talk about winter wellness challenges in 2021 without focusing on the glass half full.

Positivity is powerful. It’s true that we all experience roadblocks, but an optimistic mindset can help us see an opportunity in every challenge and become resilient in the face of setbacks. One of the mind traps that erodes at positivity is complaining.

Complaining triggers our negativity biases and puts the focus on what’s wrong. It makes us victims instead of problem solvers. And complaining is a habit that your employees can shake … if they work at it.

One way to shake the complaining habit and be more positive is to track how many times in a day you complain. Have employees pay attention to how much of their conversation is spent with a negative attitude. Then have them try to go a 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!

But that’s where the practice begins—simply by paying attention and being conscious of the habit. You can then encourage employees to try replacing the negative with a positive. It goes like this: Every time they catch themselves complaining, have them replace that complaint with something they’re grateful for.

Over time, if they stick to it, that practice becomes habit, with the goal of being positive more often than complaining.

Physical ChallengePhysical: Walk Meet – Walk–and Talk–It Out

Another way to feel good is through movement, something your employees often don’t get enough of during the cold months.

Whether your employees are working from home, in the office, or in some hybrid configuration of both, they need to get up and away from their workspace from time to time. Just because someone is working from a home office, doesn’t mean they take any more time away from their desk to move around. In fact, working from home can make us even more sedentary. Add cold weather, and we’re barely moving at all.

This calls for a change in your employees’ routines. What if managers were encouraged to hold “walking meetings”? Or, teammates can “walk and talk” to brainstorm project ideas. Studies have shown the impact simply walking can have on creativity.

If the team is in the office, they don their coats, hats, mittens, and masks and head out for a brisk walk around the building or the block while giving status updates on the latest project. If your offices have the space, maybe they walk around the floor or stretch while meeting. Or, if you have remote teams, have them grab their mobile phones and have a walkabout for a meeting.

Not only will it give employees a break from sitting or standing still, it could get those creative juices flowing and spark new, innovative ideas.

Purpose ChallengePurpose: Picture It – Visualize for 150 Minutes

Let’s end the list with a little mindfulness.

Here’s a cool trick that can actually help motivate your employees toward achieving their goals: Visualization. It’s a great technique to optimize performance and it can focus on any part of the journey.

HubSpot Video

Your employees can visualize themselves completing the tasks that lead up to accomplishing their goals—this is particularly helpful when those tasks are challenging or push employees out of their comfort zone. By imagining themselves taking the risk, facing their fear, or whatever they have to overcome to perform the task.

Visualization is also great for imagining the celebration when they complete their goal: receiving the trophy, seeing the number they wanted on the scale, or seeing how much they’ve saved in their account. Whatever it is, visualizing the end goal can be inspiring and help move us forward.

A great way to practice this is to dedicate time daily for visualization. Encourage employees to see themselves taking action or reaching their goal. Have them try it for up to 150 minutes over the course of a month and see how much it helps.

Winter can be a tough time for employees to be motivated and focused on health habits. But giving them options to keep them moving toward their goals contributes to engagement and overall health and wellness, especially at the start of the New Year.

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