The Ultimate Guide to Workplace Wellness Challenges

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Fifteen wellness challenge ideas curated to engage and delight your fellow employees. For dietitian business owners looking to contract with local businesses and HR professionals wanting to engage their staff, look no further!

If you’re ready to stop, drop and shop, check out the RD2RD trove of Wellness and Corporate resources, right here. Keep reading if you’d like to learn more about how to offer the most effective workplace wellness challenges and exciting new ideas to try. We have fifteen new ideas to try!

What is a wellness challenge?

True wellness is quite broad, encompassing more than just your lab test results from your doctor and minutes of physical activity. Those aspects of wellness are important, but workplace wellness challenges can include diverse aspects of wellness including: cultivating community connections, increasing financial savvy, prioritizing quality sleep, and our personal favorite: nutrition! 

Wellness challenges are an opportunity to show your fellow employees that they matter and their wellness is important. 

And if you’re a dietitian in private practice, hosting wellness challenges is a boost to your bottom line and a way to get your name or brand out there. And if your main work is one on one nutrition counseling, having a corporate wellness activity offers you diversification in your business offerings and access to new potential clients for one on one counseling. 

If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, know that you can get better with practice and the right tools! Make More $$$ Public Speaking is your tool to build skills, and confidence (not to mention, your bank account). 

Wellness challenges can be done all year round. Our 12 Months of the Year Worksite Wellness Monthly Challenges resource provides the framework and handouts to implement the challenges, fast!

a desk set up to record a wellness webinar or podcast with a laptop and microphone

How to create a workplace challenge

The purpose of a wellness challenge is to promote health, reduce stress, and to provide tools to enable employees to live more fulfilling lives. And for employees to have fun while doing so! 

Activities can be big events or small notes of gratitude. Wellness challenges can contribute to a fulfilling work environment and greater employee productivity and retention. 

Since the pandemic, people report feeling far more socially isolated, anxious and emotionally exhausted (1). Now more than ever, wellness challenges are an important priority to foster a positive working environment for employees, especially for remote workers. 

We recommend focusing on habit-based wellness challenges, such as increasing steps or more servings of vegetables than a potentially triggering, unsustainable end-point type of goal like weight loss.  

One wellness challenge to skip? A biggest-loser kind of weight loss challenge. 

We suggest not sharing any data that might be private, such as weight. And aim to be as inclusive as possible for all wellness challenge participants, regardless of fitness level, physical ability or disability. 

a dietitian at a desk with a tablet and coffee, planning wellness challenges for her client

Wellness challenge ideas

While creating your own program from scratch can be fun, it’s also helpful to have some ideas to start with. No one needs to reinvent the wheel!

On RD2RD you’ll find many products to support your successful wellness challenge – including remote options – all while saving you time! Here are a few of our favorites. 

1. Self-care challenges

Wellness starts with you. You know the old adage, you can’t pour from an empty cup? Self-care is a way to replenish your own batteries and enables you to be generous to your friends, family and co-workers. Self-care is not selfish!

2. Walking challenge

Do you miss traveling? We do, too! A walking challenge can be a fun way to compete with the other department to walk to your dream vacation destination – virtually! 

Break participants into two groups and log miles to see which group “reaches” your dream virtual getaway location first (virtually based on mileage logged). Logging miles as a group keeps the focus on the whole total instead of individuals. The company can offer enticing incentives, including nice water bottles, delicious snacks or even a gift certificate to a local running store for new shoes. 

Safety tip: don’t forget to have employees sign waivers prior to participating in any physical activity program.

For Zoom meetings, make your background your virtual destination as inspiration for this challenge. 

3. Salad bar challenge

On average only 1 in 10 US adults has the recommended amount of fruits and veggies each day. Safe to assume that employees in your office will benefit from more produce!

Whether you’re working together in person or remotely, everyone can choose to participate in a ‘salad bar challenge’ on a certain day of the week, for example: “Salad Bar Mondays!” Everyone makes a delicious salad and submits a photo of their lunch. The most popular salad that week gets a prize!

4. Floss (like a boss)

Most of us could use a nudge to floss more regularly, not just in the week or two before your next dental appointment. And did you know that regular flossing lowers your risk of heart disease (2)? 

Your wellness challenge could be to tally who flosses the most, which team flosses the most or who reports brushing their teeth after lunch, or who is able to reduce their added sugars the most (see guide below for tips). 

Don’t forget rewarding your floss like a boss winners! Prizes could be a teeth whitening kit or a fancy new electric toothbrush. 

5. Couch to 5k

Whether your local races are in person or virtual, training together is the best part! Pick a race and schedule runs together, hitting the street or joining the same virtual exercise class. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and to have a healthy snack. 

6. Budget boosting strategies in the kitchen

Groceries can feel like an enormous chunk of the monthly expenses for most of us. Dietitians are well equipped to guide audiences large and small through healthy eating on a budget, meal planning, and stocking the pantry with stables to save time, money and the temptation for take out. 

RD challenges can include a presentation on how to stock your pantry with budget-friendly staples (and how to use them), a challenge to cook a dinner for $20 worth of groceries or practicing menu planning as a group. 

two women in an office, one standing and one sitting, planning wellness challenges. Both women are on their laptops.

7. Sweet dreams

A good night’s sleep is not a luxury, it is essential for a positive mood, a robust immune system, healthy digestion and more. 

But if counting sheep is not cutting it, some structured guidance may help! Having a workshop with your co-workers about the importance of sleep and more importantly, how to promote a good night’s sleep. 

Dietitians can offer a live or virtual seminar about the importance of sleep and strategies for a better night’s sleep. And for the wellness challenge, employees get a point or gold star for each evening they go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual. 

8. You’ve got mail

A bit of appreciation goes a long way. Encouraging fellow employees to start the day with a small note of thanks to share in person (or a quick email, for everyone working remotely) starts the day in a constructive way. Provide sticky notes or index cards to make it easy to send notes of appreciation and recognition of work well done. 

And if you’re working remotely, use company group emails or a  message board to publicly thank employees on a regular basis. Notes of appreciation and gratitude reduce loneliness and isolation and is a significant boost to wellness (1). 

a notepad and pen on a white background

9. Food and mood booster challenges

Your mental health and food choices are intricately linked. Improving dietary choices, reducing caffeine and added sugars can all contribute to a healthier mood. Equip your employees with the information that empowers them to make nutrition choices to feel their best. 

Wellness challenges to boost mood can include more fruits and veggies, more anti-intlammatory herbs and spices or even more omega-3 fish, such as salmon. Your team can enjoy an afternoon break with a golden turmeric latte to chat and build community connction all while reducing inflammation.

10. Become a CSA drop off point

If you’re aiming to eat more vegetables, your next subscription can be to a farm! A CSA, which stands for Community Supported Agriculture, is a subscription to a local farm that you purchase, often in the springtime. Each week during harvest, each shareholder receives their portion of the fresh veggies and herbs that are picked that week. 

One barrier to participation in CSAs is the time to drive to the farm for each participant to pick up their share each week. The solution? Make your work setting the drop-off point. You can search for local farms in the Local Harvest database. 

Dietitians can host a cooking demonstration to teach employees how to prepare the new vegetables that they received from their local farm. 

11. Host a plant-based eating culinary challenge

You don’t need to be a vegetarian or vegan to benefit from more fruits and veggies and some new recipes to refresh your usual menu. 

Many people simply don’t feel comfortable preparing food. A dietitian is the perfect host for a cooking demonstration. Build skills and reduce overwhelm around vegetables with a plant-based cooking challenge. 

12. Earth day everyday challenge

Earth day is celebrated each year in April. But truly, it can be celebrated all year long!

Celebrate Earth Day with your co-workers. Maybe you start some seedlings together, go on a company hike together, plant a succulent container as an after work alternative to the usual happy hour. 

Outdoor activities could also include picking strawberries together in the summer and apples in the fall. Enjoying some fresh air together and fresh local food is a boost for everyone’s mood. 

13. Play to win

Playing games is fun, and can be used as an opportunity to learn more about nutrition! Whether you’re in person or working remotely, your team can play Nutrition Jeopardy. Or have a quick competition of 20 Questions – nutrition style. Either way – don’t forget the prizes!

14. Volunteer together

Taking some time to help others in need fosters connection and a sense of fulfillment, important aspects of wellness. And with the increase in remote work, having activities that foster connection helps your whole team to feel more connected.  

Wellness challenge ideas can include hosting a non-perishable food drive for your local food bank, passing out lunches for schools doing remote learning, writing greeting cards to your local nursing home or walking dogs at your dog rescue. Having 

15. Host a smoothie bar

There can be some confusion about making smoothies. Are they healthy? Should you add protein to them? Smoothies can be a quick snack or a nutritious meal, depending on how you make them. 

Getting an office blender and hosting a smoothie party can be a fun and informative way for the team to bond, while enjoying a healthy snack or breakfast. Virtual employees will enjoy an informative presentation with tips and strategies to make their next healthy smoothie. 

Key Takeaways for successful wellness challenges

Actions big and small can contribute to a happy, productive and thriving workspace. 

Keep wellness challenges fun, and make them accessible to employees in person and remote. Focus on lifestyle goals, such as steps taken, and not end-point goals, such as pounds or inches lost. 

What is your favorite wellness challenge that you’ve hosted? Comment below!

Wellness and Corporate Materials

RD2RD is your go-to for tools and education handouts

For done-for-you presentations, games, handouts and more, shop our Wellness and Corporate Materials:

Wellness and Corporate Materials

This curated collection will engage and delight. For even more wellness activity ideas, check out our 79 Workplace Wellness Ideas

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