The fall is one of the most popular times of the year to run a wellness challenge. This year saw a major uptick in summer vacations and travel and come the fall and back to school season, people tend to want to get back into a routine of eating well, exercising, and sleeping more consistently. It’s like a mini “new year”. A wellness challenge is a great way to support and motivate your teams in building those healthy habits and to bring everyone together.
If you’re considering running a challenge this fall or factoring a challenge or two into your broader wellness program for 2023, we have some tips for how to launch a killer wellness challenge your employees will participate in and love.
Running a company wellness challenge can be a fun and engaging way to share health and wellness education and help motivate healthy habit formation. It also increases camaraderie and a sense of belonging as your teams work towards a common goal. With more of a hybrid workplace, they are a great way to help with team building and connection. This is reason enough to launch a wellness challenge since we know the positive impact this has on mental health, engagement, and retention.
In our experience, when challenges are well executed they also improve health outcomes. If your teams are struggling with low energy, burnout, work-life balance and stress, you want to ensure the challenge you run covers daily and weekly habits that will support them in these areas. On the other hand, you may simply want to help them get moving more, in which case a fitness challenge or step challenge can be helpful. Consider surveying your employees on their topics of interest ahead of time. This can also start to drum up excitement early on and they will be more inclined to participate if they feel it’s touching on their areas of interest.
The timing of your wellness challenge can make a big difference in the level of participation and engagement you get. Ideally, you don’t want to launch a challenge while the majority of your employees are on holiday, like late summer and December.
The new year and the fall have traditionally been our most popular times of the year for running a wellness challenge. Most people are motivated to break up the winter in January and February and ready to get “back on track” after the summer. The spring can also be a great time and there’s a renewed focus on getting outside and feeling good heading into the summer.
That being said, every company is a little different. We’ve had companies run challenges during their company’s busy season in order to provide their teams with extra support, while we’ve had others run them at the end of a busy season to help them re-energize and recover. The timing of your challenge is unique to your company and may be something worth getting employee input on.
Before you run a challenge it’s important to determine how you’ll be tracking sign ups, what you’ll be using for tracking the tasks completed, and how much capacity you have to spend on it. If you have time to spend running the program, a very small company that works in person and you want to track basic activities, you could easily manage the challenge yourself with a sign up sheet and a printed habit tracker. Here are some ideas for mini wellness challenges you can run in your office to get a feel for this type of program.
The other option is to partner with a third party that specializes in running wellness challenges and knows what works and what doesn’t. This is the solution to use if you don’t want extra work on your plate! Depending on the provider, they can manage sign ups, provide you with a promotional plan, offer a tracking system for daily tasks, track points or standings, and can provide you with metrics such as engagement rates, results, etc. In addition to all of these features, HEAL also provides optional resources such as meal plans, workouts, email support, can handle the ordering and distribution of prizes, all with the aim of making this process as hands off as possible for our clients.
Another consideration is the variation in challenges, the level of education you want to provide and the topics you want to cover. For example, there are companies that specialize in step challenges and will equip participants with smart watches. By contrast, our challenges are holistic in nature and focus on a mix of mindset, nutrition and movement challenges and the topics we cover are tailored to each organization. They also cover a lot of education around each topic which isn’t something every provider offers. There are pros and cons of each option and this will be easier once you narrow down your goals.
Like we mentioned, you’ll get a higher participation rate if your employees feel the challenge is tailored to their goals. However in order to ensure you are getting the highest number of sign ups, you’ll want to have a well thought out promotional strategy. This is even more important if your company is hybrid or you have a larger number of employees.
Here are some of the strategies we use…
The final factor to consider prior to launching a wellness challenge is the metrics and information you will need in order to measure the success of the program. Some metrics to consider:
It’s important to consider the length of the program in relation to the types of results you want to see. In just 4 weeks, our wellness challenges have been shown to improve energy levels, stress levels, sleep, physical activity and employee connection by over 85%.
If you are running a longer challenge or your challenge is part of a broader wellness program that incorporates a variety of wellbeing initiatives you can consider your annual health medical costs or offer health screening for employees before and after the program. According to a study done by Harvard researchers in 2010, for every dollar a company spends on preventative wellness, medical costs will fall by $3.27 and absenteeism also drops by $2.73. That amounts to a 6-to-1 return on investment. Surveying your teams can also provide helpful insight into how the program helped with productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.
Wellness challenges are a fun and engaging way to help your teams prioritize their physical and mental health. As a company that specializes in holistic wellness challenges and health and wellbeing education, we have seen first hand the impact these types of programs can make. If you would like to discuss the challenges we offer and how we can help you launch a killer challenge your employees will rave about, click here to get in touch.