How to Kick-Start an Employee Wellness Challenge

1208701_10101931161578573_1394992726_n (2)As an active and healthy Denverite, I wanted to bring forth an organized employee wellness effort into our company. Studies show that healthy employees take fewer sick days and work better overall. Starting last month, the Armada Wellness Challenge aimed to encourage healthier lifestyle behaviors among our crew and add some fun activities into our day-to-day work.

The month-long challenge featured a different goal each week:

• Week 1: Rest, Relaxation and Sleep

• Week 2: More Water, Less Caffeine and Sugar

• Week 3: Cook at Home, Pack a Lunch

• Week 4: Get Active

The greatest obstacle was to create weekly goals that were not only attainable by every employee but also fun and engaging to participate in. Weekly emails included helpful resources related to that week’s goal and stand-out employees were recognized as the week’s “Honorable Mention” via a virtual challenger board and on Armada’s social media channels.Dan Wellness Challenge

Every business can benefit from creating a short or long-term wellness challenge — it’s a win-win effort.

Learn from Others

Employee health challenges are increasing in popularity, and companies are constantly sharing their strategies and success stories, so you don’t have to recreate the wheel. In sharing our experience in creating a workplace wellness program, we hope to give other companies inspiration to create or improve their own programs.

One organization where we drew our inspiration from is LiveWell Colorado, a state-wide campaign to get Coloradans living healthy lifestyles. Its website,, provides many wellness program resources and tips. Also, in the article “Do workplace wellness programs work?” the University of Minnesota and national grocer Safeway offer two examples of wellness initiatives:

• 6,000 U of M employees participated in a questionnaire, biked to campus and set personal goals to receive insurance discounts.

• Tobacco use, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels were evaluated among Safeway’s employees in order to qualify for a reduction on the employee’s insurance premiums.

Research continues to measure the effectiveness and sustainability of such programs.

It’s about Teambuilding

It’s easy to get stuck at your desk for eight hours. Teambuilding is essential when creating and maintaining a positive and connected work environment. We took advantage of several teambuilding opportunities during the Armada Wellness Challenge:

• Hosting a healthy potluck lunch: our table had a variety of foods such as homemade healthy applesauce, summer squash pizza and strawberry-basil-mozzarella kabobs

• Joining in afternoon employee walks: taking a break to simply go around the block can do wonders for productivity

• Encouraging fitness hour during lunch hour: we were able to bring one employee to her first-ever yoga experience!

• Sharing healthy recipes that employees made at home

• Group stretching breaks throughout the workdaystretching collage_wk1

Healthy Employees = Productive Employees

It’s inevitable; 3 p.m. is the hardest time of the day. It’s easy to lack in concentration and productivity. The Armada Wellness Challenge touched on two simple yet very important health areas that helped everyone get through the day without an afternoon crash: sleep and water intake.

Mental health is as important as physical health! Sugar may provide short bursts of energy, but ultimately ends in a crash. Being hydrated can provide energy plus other health benefits like decreased swelling in joints, clearer skin and a more regular digestive system.

Moving toward a healthier lifestyle can have great influence on how we work:

• Lower levels of stress

• Increased well-being, self-image and self-esteem

• Decreased rate of illness and injuries

• Improved employee relations and morale

• Increased productivity

• Increased concentration

• Increased level of patience

• Increased level of energy throughout the entire day

Week 2’s goal, Drink More Water, was the most active week among our employees. Everyone participated by downing at least eight cups a day and said it was a simple but noticeable change in their daily routine.

Armada Wellness Wrap-up

The Armada Wellness Challenge was successful because we have a team of supportive, positive and fun employees who worked together to maintain a healthy way of living! The challenge wasn’t trying to turn everyone into a health nut in one month, but I saw nearly every Armada employee find a way to make new healthy choices.

View our photos from the Armada Wellness Challenge on Facebook.

Contact me for more details about our wellness challenge and how you can follow our model to start one at your workplace.

Allison is the Art Director at Armada.