Creating a Healthy Workplace Challenge

Lori PorterEmployee Benefits, Human Resources


Still trying to figure out how to kick off an employee wellness program? The latest trend is to come up with fun and highly motivating group wellness challenges that are not only a great way to increase morale, but that actually promote lifestyle and behavioral change through active participation in wellness goals or competitions over a multi-week period. A challenge can be a great way to kick off a new wellness campaign or create momentum towards long term initiatives.

These challenges can focus on exercise, healthy eating, weight management, increasing steps or all of the above combined into a lifestyle challenge. “There are many wellness challenges on the market but creating one that fits your employees’ needs and interests would bode well for increased engagement” says Wendy Pernerewski, CEO & Founder of Employee Health Management. “We take a close look at what the existing culture is, ask what the employees want and review existing health data to create a program that best suits the environment and to increase employee buy in”.

One way to get employees to participate at this time of year is to create a challenge around healthier eating.  Winter pounds may have accumulated and thoughts of summer are on the horizon. A 30-Day Nutrition Challenge would fit perfectly.  You could simply set up a points based system where individuals are given specific goals to achieve throughout the month.

Here are a few to include:

    • Eat 5 servings per day of fruits and/or vegetables –get one point for each serving of fruit or vegetables.
    • Eat healthy snacks –get one point each day that you only eat fruits and/or vegetables for snacks.
    • Avoid eating junk food –get one point each day that you do not eat any junk food.
    • Eat breakfast –get one point each day that you eat a healthy breakfast.
    • Reduce calorie intake by 100 calories each day –eliminate 100 calories (use a mobile phone app like My Fitness Pal for calorie counting) from your diet each day by eating smaller portions or avoiding certain foods or beverages that you normally consume.  Get one point for each day that you succeed.
    • Keep track of your calorie count –use a calorie counter to count the calories in everything you eat and drink.  Try it for a week at a time.  Receive one point for each day that you successfully account for everything you eat and drink.
    • Prepare healthy meals –earn one point for each healthy meal that you eat.
    • Share healthy meal recipes that can contribute to a company Healthy Cook Book –receive one point for every healthy recipe contributed.

Before jumping in, designate a Challenge Leader or hire a wellness expert to help design challenge parameters and rules that need to include specific start and end dates, goals and measurements, as well as prizes to offer.  Review your challenge with human resources and legal counsel.  There are many new wellness rules that need to be followed or there may be legal implications.  Communicate the challenge to employees. Have a group meeting to explain the contest and solicit feedback and questions. Provide ongoing promotion of the challenge to keep employees motivated.

Lori Porter

Sinclair Risk & Financial Management


Lori Porter