Blog Corporate Wellness Workplace Wellness Challenges: We List The Best Ways To Motivate Employees and Boost Productivity

Workplace Wellness Challenges: We List The Best Ways To Motivate Employees and Boost Productivity

It cannot be denied that employees form the backbone of every organization. And, if there is one thing that plagues business leaders and HR professionals in the post-pandemic world, it is finding ways to keep their employees healthy and motivated. At a time when chronic illnesses and burnout wreak havoc among millennial and Gen-Z employees, finding the correct form of workplace wellness can be the defining factor for any successful organization. Investing in wellness packages and challenges will mitigate the increased healthcare costs borne by employers while also helping to reduce absenteeism, improve morale, and enhance productivity. 


Workplace wellness challenges can take the form of a variety of fun, engaging activities with perceived health benefits. From weight loss challenges to programs that encourage stopping drinking alcohol, there is potential for diversity in the programs that are adopted by any company. With the world wellness economy forecast to reach $7 trillion by 2025, investing in bettering the overall health of your employees appears to be the assured way forward. (3

What is a workplace wellness challenge?

A workplace wellness challenge aims to introduce a series of incentive-backed activities to help deal with the unhealthy lifestyle habits of employees. It is a great way of promoting better life choices and keeping employees motivated, connected, and productive. 

However, the definition of a workplace wellness challenge differs between companies. 

For Employers 

A wellness challenge can be considered an excellent way of reducing insurance premiums through preventative healthcare measures such as biometric testing i.e. recording the medical history of participating employees, taking their body weight and blood pressure information, and testing the glucose and cholesterol levels in their blood. Other challenges can target specific health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes, or incentives can be offered to lose weight or stop smoking. 

For Employees 

These workplace wellness challenges serve as an employer-sponsored benefit that provides the opportunity for self-reflection, self-improvement, and a better lifestyle. They aim to encourage individuals to take preventative measures through education, risk assessment and/or screening, or disability management to avert the onset or worsening of an illness or disease.  (1)

See also
5 Stages Of Burnout: What It Is, How To Recognise It, And How To Recover

workplace wellness challenges  

Some of the main benefits of workplace wellness challenges include:

  • Promoting a healthier lifestyle at work, particularly as Americans spend an average of 54% of their waking time at work. (2)
  • Establishing camaraderie and connection through peer-group challenges. 
  • Promoting emotional wellness and better mental health and creating a positive environment. 
  • Raising awareness of certain health issues.
  • Inculcating a cycle of validation that goes beyond the conventional monetary remuneration.
  • Reducing absenteeism and increasing productivity.
  • Reducing healthcare costs.
  • Encouraging a culture of wellness that transcends each level of the organization.

While workplace wellness challenges can be a motivating step for employers and employees, HR professionals who implement these programs must be aware of any federal, state, and regulatory laws and steer clear of any form of discrimination. 

It is good to remember the following points when introducing a workplace wellness challenge in the modern corporate environment. 

  1. Avoid any direct or indirect discrimination when creating or implementing the wellness program. 
  2. Make sure the wellness challenge does not treat similarly situated employees differently. 
  3. Ensure that the program, though seemingly neutral and applying to all employees, does not have any illegal disparate adverse impact on a protected group.
  4. Provide alternatives or offer exemptions for employees who cannot participate in such challenges due to underlying medical reasons. 
  5. Do not request health records before extending an offer of employment.
  6. Ensure employee healthcare information remains strictly confidential. (1)

BetterMe corporate wellness solutions help employees fight burnout and prevent chronic health conditions. Boost your team’s performance, improve job satisfaction, and lower medical expenses with BetterMe.

What is a good wellness challenge

Workplace wellness challenges for employees can take many forms. Some of the best corporate wellness challenges cover any or all of the following aspects: 

  • Physical wellness 
  • Emotional wellness 
  • Academic betterment 
  • Financial improvement 
  • Social wellness 

With these broad categories, business leaders and HR professionals can implement the following workplace wellness challenges for their employees:

Overall Wellness 

  1. Sleep Challenge: Packing in a minimum of 7 hours of sleep is the goal. Every employee who can clock in such a sleep schedule gets one point per day. 
  2. Screening Challenge: Encouraging employees to take a physical exam or health screening to better understand their current health conditions. Anyone who actively takes one can win the challenge.
  3. Hydration Challenge: Promote drinking 32 oz. of water during the workday to remain hydrated and avoid fatigue. Every employee who can complete this task successfully can earn one point each workday. 
See also
National Wellness Month: Motivate And Support Employees For Win-Win Productivity And Retention

Exercise and Fitness 

  1. The “One Mile a Day” Challenge: Create a roster of different aerobic activities that burn enough calories to cover one mile of walking. Encourage employees to start by completing one mile and proceed to two, if time and resources permit. The reward can be set up accordingly and can range from providing certificates to redeeming points at the end of the week/month/year.  
  2. The Walk or Cycle Challenge:  Encourage employees to be both healthy and environmentally conscious through this challenge. Every employee who walks or cycles to work will receive a reward depending on the distance traveled or time taken. 
  3. The Afternoon Walk Challenge: Encourage employees to take a walk after lunch with coworkers and have them count the miles. A monthly reward or payout system based on the results can be an excellent incentive for greater participation. 
  4. The 30-Minute Exercise Challenge: Ask employees to do some form of exercise for 30 minutes every day, and each minute counts for one point. 
  5. Stair Climbing Competition: Count the number of stairs that are climbed every day, keep a tally sheet for employees to promote healthy competition, and reward the highest achiever at the end of a stipulated period of time. 

workplace wellness challenges  

Nutritional Wellness 

  1. The Fruits and Veggies Challenge: Every time an employee chooses to eat fruits or vegetables, they receive a point. This health and wellness challenge can be designed in collaboration with the office canteen/lunch room/nearby grocery store to keep employees’ calorie intakes in check. 
  2. The Junk Food Reduction Plan: This health challenge punishes any employee who chooses to indulge in junk food in the workplace by removing a point from their total. 
  3. Reduce 100 Calories Challenge: This can be a timed challenge where employees start by declaring their average calorie intake at the start and proceed to reduce it by 100 with each passing day or week. The employee who has the most significant downward graph will be declared the winner. 
  4. The Healthy Meal Challenge: Another fun work challenge can include rewarding employees who bring their own healthy meals into the office.
See also
Unlocking The Power Of Employee Incentive Programs To Achieve Business Goals

Emotional Wellness and Personal Growth

  1. Volunteer to Help Someone in the Company:  Help can take many forms. Think outside the box and find innovative ways of providing support to a colleague. Any individual who can objectively help another employee through their efforts could be considered for an annual or monthly reward. 
  2. The Participation Challenge: At the start of this corporate wellness challenge‍, employees are asked to list 10 things they wish they could participate in but have not been able to do for any reason. Examples can include taking a cooking class or learning to speak a foreign language. At the end of the challenge period, whoever ticks off the most will win. 
  3. The Reading Challenge: Encouraging education and awareness can be a stepping stone for building psychological safety in the workplace. Through this challenge, employees are incentivized to read the maximum number of books in a specific time period and discuss what they have learned with others. The person who finishes the most books wins. 
  4. Mentor or Tutor a Child/Student: This workplace challenge can be extended over a few months. Every session counts for a point.

Read more: Unlocking The Power Of Employee Incentive Programs To Achieve Business Goals

Social wellness 

  1. Share Lunch with a Coworker: Encourage employees to go out to lunch, or enjoy a brown bag lunch with a coworker in the lunchroom. The goal should be getting to know your colleagues better. Every lunch will earn a point.
  2. The Healthy Office Potluck: Anyone who brings in a healthy dish or snack for this event receives a point and the employee who performs the best wins.  
  3. A Charitable Challenge: Decide as a community which charity or cause you wish to support. Gather the maximum number of employees in your group and find new ways to help. For example, hold an auction at work to raise funds. The team that makes the biggest impact or generates the most earnings wins the challenge. 
See also
Employee Burnout: How Can HR Professionals Tackle The Workforce’s Biggest Concern? 

Physical wellness

  1. Weight Loss Challenge: The most pounds or the highest percentage of weight loss will win this workplace wellness challenge
  2. Lose Inches off Your Waist: ‍Similar to the previous health and wellness challenge, this encourages a healthier lifestyle by rewarding the maximum inches lost around the waist. 
  3. Reduce Body Fat: The highest percentage of body fat lost wins the challenge
  4. Reduce Body Mass Index (BMI): This workplace wellness challenge requires an accurate measurement of BMI for employees at the start and the end. Those employees who are successful in reducing their BMI or show the maximum percentage difference will win the challenge. 
  5. Reduce Unhealthy Pleasures, Such as Smoking or Drinking: The goal is to reduce the number of cigarettes smoked, units of alcohol drank, or number of calories consumed. Employees should pick the unhealthy pleasure that applies to them, and the person with the lowest number of indulgences in each category takes the prize. ‍

If you are looking for a holistic solution to improve the health and performance of your employees, you’ve just found it. You can benefit from BetterMe’s flexible corporate wellness approach to various teams!

What is the purpose of the wellness challenge?

Experience has shown that workplace wellness challenges and programs are an important strategy for preventing major shared risk factors for diseases such as: 

  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Stroke 
  • Obesity 
  • Hypertension 
  • Burnout 
  • Diabetes 
  • Physical inactivity 

workplace wellness challenges  

An estimated 25% to 30% of the medical costs incurred by companies each year are spent on employees with the major risk factors listed above (5). Employees and employers share the financial burden through the following: 

  1. Higher insurance contributions 
  2. Higher copayments and deductibles 
  3. Reduction or elimination of coverage 
  4. Trade-offs of insurance benefits against wage or salary increase (4)

When workplace wellness challenges and programs are successful, their influence extends beyond the employer, the individual employee, and their immediate family members. They encourage and foster a healthier workplace culture, incentivize employees to improve themselves, and reduce overall costs for the employer. Ultimately, the purpose of workplace wellness challenges is to ensure fitness-conscious and healthy employees. 

See also
Work-Life Balance Examples: Real-Life Strategies for Equilibrium

Read more: Benefits of Corporate Exercise Programs: The Secret To A Healthier and More Productive Workforce

How can I create a fitness challenge at work?

To create a fitness challenge at work, the following must be considered: 

Creating The Challenge

While anyone can come up with the idea of a challenge in the organization, better results are achieved when more employees participate. Challenges can be frequent or infrequent. However, consistency produces the best results and participation levels.‍

Rewarding Effort

Challenges should be designed to reward effort and make it possible for as many people as possible to succeed. An example of this is a healthy weight loss challenge that encourages everyone, particularly those with increased risks, to lose weight and be the best version of themselves.  

Sponsorships are a great incentive. Talk to wellness apps and local stores about offering a product or service discount to challenge winners. A monthly healthy potluck lunch that publicly recognizes participants is an effective way of ending each challenge and introducing a new one (6). 

Be Cautious

Fitness challenges can be triggering for those who may struggle with the concept. It is important that HR professionals consider various nuances when they design and incorporate a fitness challenge. 


How do you create a health challenge?

Some of the best ways of creating a health challenge include: 

  1. Encouraging employees to log into their food journals every day and provide photos for evidence
  2. Setting up a daily water logbook to check in on the hydration levels of employees more accurately 
  3. Linking health devices such as their FitBit or BetterMe bands with company devices to record their steps
  4. Setting up specific nutrition-related goals, such as eating fruit or vegetables at lunch every day

Which workplace wellness challenges would you consider introducing in your organization? 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Corporate Wellness Programs: Implementation Challenges in the Modern American Workplace
  2. Health Promotion in Small Business
  3. The Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings
  4. The relationship between modifiable health risks and group-level health care expenditures. Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Research Committee
  5. Worksite Wellness Programs for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention
  6. Workplace Wellness Challenges – Fun, Effective, and Free