AccessElite Well-being

How to Set Up Employee Challenges Your Teams Will Want to Participate In


Are your employees participating in your wellness programs? If they’re not, you’re not alone. Recent research by Gartner shows that, while 80% of companies offer physical well-being programs, less than one-third of employees actually use them. Uptake rates are even worse when it comes to emotional and mental well-being programs: 87% of employers offer them, but less than a quarter of employees use them. 

We were told, “If you build it, they will come.” But apparently that doesn’t apply to employee wellness programs. What can you do change participation numbers in your organization? You can start by making a game of it – literally! Set up a series of employee challenges that are fun to do and are rewarding for teams and individuals. We’ll tell you how to do it (and why you should).

The Benefits of Team Challenges

Offering corporate challenges to your employees has a number of big benefits. Chief among them is the fact that they are effective. Challenges have been proven to help employees get started with a new activity and help them build new long-term habits. According to a study of 1,300 employees at Cisco, 95% of employees who participated in a company-sponsored physical activity challenge said they would continue that physical activity once the challenge was over.

But equally important is the effect that challenges can have on employee morale. “An essential element of such wellness challenges is that they are social in nature,” says executive wellness coach Naz Beheshti. “The fun and playful competition this generates can build the camaraderie and connection we seek to restore after months of isolation.” According to Beheshti, while having a fitness buddy is a great way to hold each other accountable, the benefits of team challenges go above and beyond accountability. “It is also about connection: about knowing that you are not in it alone,” she says. 

Creating Successful Challenges

Whether your employees are remote, onsite, or a mix of the two, successful corporate challenges have three things in common:

  • They’re varied. Your challenges should address the full range of employee wellness – mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being. Engage with employees to find out what activities interest them most. Then mix things up by offering new short-term challenges every few weeks, overlapping them with more long-term challenges that engage employees over an extended period of time. You can also vary your challenges to include individual, teams of two, small group, and department contests. 
  • They’re tracked. Part of game-playing is the element of competition, so employees have to be able to track and share their progress in order to see where they stand. Whether you’re tracking participation by the minute or by the mile, this feedback loop is essential to maintaining motivation and reinforcing positive behavior. 
  • They’re rewarding. Options for rewards, incentives, and recognition can be as varied as your challenges, and they can be offered to individuals, teams, or entire groups of qualifying employees. Whether it’s a gift card, a novelty item, or a special parking space, rewards can be based on participation, progress, or specific outcomes. 

No matter which challenges or rewards you offer, they should be designed to set up for success as many employees as possible. Remember to keep it simple, make it easy to participate, and, most of all, make it fun!

Team Challenges Designed by AccessElite

As part of our comprehensive wellness programming, AccessElite has developed a series of team challenges that are designed to help keep teams healthy, happy, and more connected. These challenges include:

  • Fire Up Your Fitness: A one-month walking challenge to see who can rack up the most steps
  • Re-Hydrate + Re-Charge: A challenge that tracks each team’s combined water intake for 30 days
  • Mind Your Mental Health: Individuals track their “mindful minutes” for a month, whether that’s time spent in yoga, prayer, meditation, or breath-work
  • The Power of Sleep: Participants log their nightly sleep hours for 30 days
  • The Push-up Challenge: Participants get 30 seconds a day to complete as many push-ups as they can. Alternative workout options are available as well

At AccessElite, employee challenges are about motivating and connecting people by having fun with friendly competition. With a digital platform and turnkey implementation, we make it easy for employees to log their activity and see their progress, and we incorporate gamification to make challenges more enticing and rewarding. We want to challenge you and your employees to do your best and strive for your goals for total well-being, not just fitness. 

Ready to Rise to the Challenge?

“Business owners can no longer simply focus on supporting their employees’ physical upkeep through healthcare benefits alone,” says Alison Stevens, a director of HR services. “Instead, modern companies require an approach that takes into consideration the physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing of their employees.” Her suggestion for boosting employee participation? Simple. “Appeal to their competitive side.”

AccessElite can help you deliver the corporate challenges and other wellness programming today’s employees are looking for. And with AccessElite’s extensive on-demand library and live event offerings, there is something for everyone. To learn more, book a demo with an AE Expert today!

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