The idea of using a wellness challenge to promote well-being and camaraderie among your employees is not a new one. Along the same lines, the idea of remote work is not new, as work-from-home arrangements have been growing in popularity with the rise of modern technology.
In 2020, however, these two concepts were forced to come together. Nearly everything has been done remotely this year, so running an in-person wellness challenge was off the table. Of course, given the difficulties that have come along with this year, the benefits of a wellness challenge may be more meaningful than ever before.
With those circumstances as a backdrop, we at Service Direct decided to run a remote wellness challenge over the summer. No longer seeing each other in person five days a week, we wanted to keep our culture together while supporting those who might be struggling with so much sudden change. The challenge was a great success, and we would like to offer our guidance if you would like to try something similar in your organization in the new year.
Step #1 – Establish a Timeframe for the Challenge
To get your Wellness Challenge off to a great start, one of your first steps should be to establish a specific timeline for the event. In our case, that timeline was July 1st – September 30th, but you can obviously establish a timeframe that will work for your needs. In the end, we felt that three months was a sweet spot to allow enough time for growth and change without people losing interest before the end.
Here are some things to keep in mind when picking the dates for your challenge:
Don’t make it a surprise.
You don’t want to announce your Wellness Challenge only a day or two before it is set to begin. Your employees will be less likely to participate if they feel rushed to get organized for that start date. Some of the participants might want to take a few steps to get started, like finding some new exercise clothes or buying some healthy groceries. Aim for at least a week or two of notice to avoid having this challenge be ignored by much of your staff.
Avoid a busy time of year.
Many industries have a particular time of the year that is busier than the rest. Although everyone is a little stressed during that stretch, it would not be a good time to start a wellness initiative. Everyone has too much on their plate already – adding another thing would not be well received. Instead, consider starting your challenge shortly after the busy season has ended, when everyone is looking for a good way to reset and recharge.
Let it run.
If you have not tried this kind of challenge before, you might be tempted to set your first one for only a couple of weeks, or maybe a month. That would seem like an easy start, but it might end up being more trouble than it’s worth. If you are going to get employees involved in the challenge, and if they are going to go through the steps of tracking and recording their progress, you might as well do it for a while. As mentioned, we went with a three-month timeline – while that worked for us, we’d recommend starting with no less than six weeks.
Step #2 – Decide on Challenge Activities
This is really the heart of your Wellness Challenge. The activities that will be rewarded for the duration of the challenge will not only dictate what kinds of outcomes are achieved, but also how many people are willing to participate. To engage as much of our team as possible, we decided to pick a range of activities, rather than something focused on eating healthy and exercising (although those were included).
Here’s our breakdown:
Three Point Activities
- 30 minutes of exercise
- 4 continuous hours of digital detox
- 7 hours of sleep in a night
- 3 servings of fruits and veggies in a day
Two Point Activities
- Drink 64 ounces of water in a day
- Share 3 things you are grateful for
One Point Activities
- Spend 20 minutes journaling
- Perform 20 minutes of stretching
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Read for 30 minutes (non-work-related reading)
As you can see, our activities were varied and could appeal to a range of employees, even if one or two of the items on the list held no interest for them personally. For instance, even if someone doesn’t want to meditate or has no intention of exercising for 30 minutes, they can still take part in the challenge with ease.
Feel free to use our activities list as a starting point for creating your own challenge. As long as you focus on including diverse activities you should be able to make it accessible for your entire office.
Step #3 – Create a Transparent Way to Track Progress
To track performance in the challenge, we wanted to keep things as easy as possible. After all, if the tracking portion of the challenge was too much of a headache, it’s likely that many employees would just drop out. For us, the best solution was a dedicated Slack channel. We used this channel to update the status of the challenge weekly. It was a great way to keep everyone engaged, and our team already knew how to use the technology. You could use Slack as well, or you could opt for another platform that is already used within your organization. As long as the chosen tracking method is easy for everyone to use and keep up with on a weekly basis, tracking should not stand in the way of a successful challenge.
BONUS STEP: Have a Party!
A digital party, that is. Well, at least for now. When our challenge ended, we had a group video call to discuss how it went, what we liked and didn’t like, and what we would do differently next time. There were also some prizes for those who completed the challenge and we named the top finishers. You can decide on whatever incentives you want to offer up to make the challenge even more appealing to your team. In the future, we look forward to having these parties in person, rather than in the digital realm.
So, what’s next? Start planning! Even if you may not start your Wellness Challenge for a while, you can get started right away planning the event and what it will look like, especially if you choose to kick it off in January. Those who participated in our challenge felt that they benefited in one way or another, and we hope to do even better next time around. Good luck!