Wellness Competitions

Wellness challenges or competitions can build a sense of community around getting healthier. With a workplace wellness challenge, get your entire workforce participating in good-natured fun while practicing healthy habits that they then get rewarded for.



One of the things we think we're really good at when it comes to implementing wellness programs is actually implementing wellness competitions.

We hate to call them competitions because everybody immediately thinks that it's a start line and a finish line and you have to be a super athlete to compete. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The whole idea of the wellness programs that we try to implement is employee engagement. Again, it's back to that traction thing. We're trying to get people involved and want to get healthier and fitter and make better use of their insurance dollars by actually getting them to understand what this whole thing is about.

A typical wellness competition that we might have includes very simple stuff. One of the most simple ones is a calendar, and every day of the month there are two spots on the calendar, and one spot is a box that you can check off and get a point if you exercise that day.

We define exercise as basically moving for 15 minutes and it can be walking the dog. It can be raking the yard. It can be taking a hike with your kids. It can be anything that gets you active. It can be going to the gym. It can be working out for two hours, but you get credit if you just do 15 minutes.

In that way, we can take somebody who is very athletic, very active, very fit and they still only get one point as the couch potato does by taking the dog for a 15-minute walk.

The whole idea is to make it equal enough so that everybody can compete. You don't have to be a super athlete.

The second checkbox, again, is something that everybody can do and do quite easily. Drink eight glasses of water, eat three servings of fruits. Eat three servings of vegetables. Sleep eight hours. Play a board game with a child. Encourage a friend who smokes to quit smoking. And that, again, that's something that anybody can do.

The whole idea of that competition is really to get people to understand what wellness is all about. It is all about making people healthier. Overall, body, mind, and spirit and a lot of the things that are on there have little to do with them actually getting physically better. It has more to do with alerting them to the things that they can do to make them get healthier and fitter.

We have more, I guess, hearty competitions that go down the road. One of the ones that we had and hear ourselves, it was very, very successful during January. Several years ago, we had an Iditarod Challenge competition and we put a map of Alaska upon the board. We drafted all of our employees onto a team. We had sleds on the map of Alaska. They were all color-coded and every team member had the chance to get four points a day. And the four points came through 15 minutes of exercise, three servings of fruits, three servings of vegetables. And I think it was eight hours of sleep.

We had employees actually bringing in bags of apples and grapes, carrots, whatever and trying to basically get their team members to eat all this stuff just for the sake of getting points. We actually had a 100% competition at the time. We had about fifty-five employees. We had everybody competing. And every Monday morning, when everybody would turn in their scorecards, they'd all go stand by the map and wait to move the sleds around to see who was going to come in in the first place.

And we gave out, I think, $100 gift card to the team, to each member of the team who came in the first place, 50, and then 25.

It was a competition that didn't cost a lot of money, but it engaged a lot of people and got them to think about what they eat, how they exercise, and that type of thing. So it doesn't have to be something that is rocket science. We're working on a whole bunch of sports-based themed competitions so that we tend to find that men get more engaged if you've got a sports-based competition. Women get more involved if it's the kind of competition that I just mentioned.

The whole idea is to get them to do something that's different and unusual that is still based around some of these, these very basic concepts of trying to become healthier, eat healthier and get in better shape.

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