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6 Fall Wellness Challenges That Will Break the Employee Burnout Bug

Fall marks the time of year when nature shows its beauty and reminds us to slow down, check in, and recharge. The holidays will be here before we know it, along with that recurrent combination of excitement and stress.

To add to those feelings, employees are still grappling with workplaces that continue to change significantly. Whether they’re burned out from working in multiple locations or participating in unsustainable and irrelevant wellness challenges, employees are in need of personalized wellness programs that address their unique needs and put their well-being first.

Fortunately, you can help your employees stay grounded with these fall wellness challenges centered around the six dimensions of well-being: emotional, financial, occupational, social, physical, and purpose. Each of these challenges can be done anywhere and will help employees feel connected, inspired, and optimistic for the holidays and beyond.

Social: HeartFelt—Tell 20 People Why You Appreciate Them

Actions may speak louder than words, but when it comes to feeling appreciated, people need to hear it, too.

That’s why it’s important to tell people you appreciate them—even if it doesn’t come naturally. And it turns out that expressing appreciation makes us more appreciative in turn. When people feel appreciated, they’re happier and more connected.

The HeartFelt challenge gives employees a chance to tell the important people in their lives how much they’re appreciated. To be exact, it involves telling 20 different people over 30 days, which may be a little harder than it sounds. Encourage your employees to think about who they appreciate and why. Then, they have to actually tell that person, which may feel awkward at first. However, by stepping out of their comfort zones and showing others they care, employees can improve their social wellness and feel more engaged.

Take It to the Next Level: To make an even bigger impact, you can encourage your employees to move beyond their 30-day goal and express even more appreciation. Think about what type of “appreciation days” you can create within your company so you can move closer to creating a culture of empathy and belonging. 

Occupational: LaserFocused—Check Email Only Hourly

The pandemic has permanently blurred the lines between work and home life, to the extent that your employees may find it difficult to separate the two.

One common habit afflicting many employees and managers is checking emails at all hours of the day and night. Doing so prevents them from getting a much-needed break from work to relax and recharge.

The LaserFocused challenge encourages employees to break the cycle of constantly checking emails off the clock. Instead, invite your teams to read emails only once an hour for 30 days. To take it one step further, you can even challenge your teams to minimize their inbox checkups to every two or three hours.

You may be surprised to learn how challenging this may be for some employees. However, this is an opportunity for your employees to step away from their roles, breathe deeply, and reconnect with the rest of their world.

Take It to the Next Level: Send reminders from your email server that encourage employees to stop checking emails at a set time. You can use this message as a template: “Self-care checkpoint! This is your daily reminder to step away from your emails for the next hour and check in with yourself.” For some employees, these types of messages serve as much-needed reassurance from leadership that not checking email for a period of time is encouraged and approved.

Financial: HomeBrew—Make Coffee at Home

If you ask any financial advisor for tips on how to save money, their first piece of advice will be to cut out extra expenses.

One of the most common sources of excess spending happens when we make spur-of-the-moment trips to cafés and chain coffeehouses that sell overpriced drinks. They may not cost too much on one trip, but stopping multiple times a week over the course of a month can really dig a hole in your wallet.

The HomeBrew challenge encourages employees to skip the coffee shop for 25 days and brew their own coffee at home or at the office. Not only does home-brewed coffee save money, but it also cuts down on artificial ingredients and the use of plastic cups and straws, which is better for the environment.

Take It to the Next Level: Create a “morning coffee talk” with your teams where employees can chat and share their favorite recipes for lattes, cappuccinos, and more. You can also encourage employees to share pictures of their favorite mugs or tumblers and offer rewards for the most unique ones.

Emotional: BeGrateful—List 90 Things You’re Thankful for

With everything going on in the world, it's more important than ever to recognize the good things that make life worthwhile. Not only does having gratitude help build self-esteem, but it can also make you feel happier and healthier.

The BeGrateful challenge encourages employees to write down three specific things they’re grateful for each day for 30 days. In total, your employees will have a list of 90 different things they’re thankful for that they can reflect on in tough moments.

Tracking gratitude only takes a few minutes each day and can be done at any time of day, including early in the morning or right before bed. Doing so can gradually change an employee’s whole outlook on life.

Take It to the Next Level: Establish a company-wide social channel on a tool like Slack or Teams where employees can freely share their daily gratitudes. Encourage the leaders in your company to serve as examples and share their gratitudes to keep the momentum going. This type of communication can be inspiring and help everyone stay committed to the challenge.  

Physical: StandUp—Get Up Every Hour

You might think that working from home would offer more opportunities to be active, but many employees find themselves too busy to get up from their computers and move around. This is especially common when meetings pile up or task lists become too congested to allow for breaks.

However, physical activity offers more benefits than improving health and fitness levels. It can also have a positive impact on creativity and clarity, which can translate directly to productivity and employee morale. Additionally, it can break up the workday by providing a much-needed change in environment, which improves mental health and well-being.

The StandUp challenge invites employees to get up and move around every hour—ideally, eight times a day—for 30 days. Encourage your teams to go above and beyond with stretching breaks at the same time. The biggest key to success with this challenge is having employees figure out a reliable trigger to remind them to stand up. For example, some employees may want to stand at the top or bottom of the hour, or others may set an alarm to do so.

Take It to the Next Level: Establish a company-wide “stand” for a cause, where you pick a shared value or social issue and encourage employees to stand at a specific time of day to honor it. Not only does this reinforce the importance of physical activity, but it’s also a great opportunity to align your values with the values of your workforce, which can foster trust and empathy. 

Purpose: MeditationMaster—Meditate for 150 Minutes

With employee burnout escalating as the world becomes more fast-paced, the simple act of doing nothing can be incredibly cathartic.

Meditation, in particular, is a great way to quickly shut out everything and regain a sense of presence and calm. On top of providing physical benefits like reducing stress, boosting immunity, and decreasing pain, meditation can also sharpen memory, improve attention span, and lead to a more meaningful appreciation of life.

The MeditationMaster challenge invites employees to meditate for a total of 150 minutes over 30 days—that’s just five minutes per day! For many employees, this may be their first encounter with meditation, so make sure to offer guidance to get the ball rolling. You can use this script as a starting point:

Sit up tall with your spine straight, either in a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes or gaze softly downward. Breathe slowly and fully through your nose. As thoughts go through your mind, return your focus to the sensation of your breathing.

Of course, employees can choose any type of meditation they like, including guided meditation from a mobile app or a live class. The point is to help them learn how to become more present, mindful, and aware in moments of stress.

Take It to the Next Level: Initiate “meditative minutes” for your workforce with guided meditations that employees can join in person or over Zoom. You may even want to continue to offer this service beyond the challenge timeframe to instill a lasting focus on mindfulness and purpose.  


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