5 Ideas for a Fun Workplace Wellness Program

5 Ideas for a Fun Workplace Wellness Program

Does your workplace wellness program need a refresh? Get inspired with these unique and fun wellness challenges!


What images come to mind when you hear these words? Mindfulness, yoga, and therapy. Though you may have imagined someone in a park or yoga studio, the truth is that the boundaries between personal life and work are increasingly blurred. Coupled with ongoing human resources trends on remote work, work-life balance, and corporate wellness programs, getting pampered at a spa or taking fitness classes during the workday is becoming more common.

Though employees want, and even expect, companies to prioritize well-being, it can be challenging to engage your employees in your wellness initiatives. After all, their standards are high and you need fresh ideas to truly delight your staff. But before we dive into our ideas, let's first explain what workplace wellness is.

What is a Workplace Wellness Program?

Though the concept of wellness isn't new, the way we define wellness has dramatically shifted over time. While wellness was traditionally categorized as mental and physical health, wellness can encompass financial, social, emotional, physical, occupational, purpose, intellectual, environmental, and/or mental health. Since the interpretation of wellness can vary from individual to individual, there is no universal definition of workplace wellness programs. Any initiative designed to promote employee health at an organization can be considered part of a workplace wellness program.

What makes corporate wellness programs the most effective is when they are genuine, focus on different dimensions of wellness, and promote an overall culture of wellness and employee engagement (as opposed to simply focusing on traditional healthcare benefits). Though shifting company culture takes time and patience, the effort is well worth it. In fact, global mental health issues cost businesses $1 trillion due to lost productivity.

Wellness is a serious issue, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun too! Read on for our round-up of five fun wellness challenges that will inspire your remote, hybrid, and on-site employees alike!

5 Fun Wellness Challenges that Won't Break the Bank

1. Encourage Physical Activity through Step Challenges

We love having a friendly competition at Cooleaf, especially when prizes are at stake! For this fitness challenge, team members set a daily step goal to earn daily reward points that can be redeemed for gift cards or other employee incentives. To raise the stakes even higher, the person with the highest number of steps gets a bonus award! Step progress can be tracked through the Cooleaf platform, and for easier tracking, Cooleaf syncs with fitness apps like Fitbit, MisFit, HealthKit, and more. For additional team bonding and points, encourage participants to take and post a fitness selfie on the Cooleaf platform.

Cooleaf Step Challenges bring teams together while motivating employees to participate in physical activity

2. Foster Healthy Eating Habits through the Healthy Lunch Challenge

During periods of high stress, people tend to grab high carbs or sugary snacks, and with apps like Grubhub and Doordash, the temptation to eat out has never been higher. Encourage employees to cook healthy meals at home by having participants take a picture of their healthy lunch for 5 days. Employees can post photos through a platform like Cooleaf or on their MS Teams or Slack channel. Teams can share healthy recipes, healthy snack tips, or meal prep advice to inspire ideas and hold each other accountable. With points on the line, even the most skeptical employees will participate!

Fun wellness activities with Cooleaf's employee engagement platform

3. Build a Culture of Recognition through a Peer Gratitude Challenge

With this fun challenge, employees are encouraged to give recognitions through their recognition platform. It's a win-win: those that give recognitions earn points, while those that receive recognitions get points!

Whether you use a recognition platform like Cooleaf or not, building a culture of appreciation and gratitude is critical to employee engagement and wellness. A simple "thank you" can go a long way, but to truly personalize your gratitude, ask your teammates how they prefer to be recognized. Maybe they prefer receiving kudos for a job well done in a team meeting, a personal email, or stretch assignments to help them achieve their goals. The point is this: you won't know until you ask. Recognition doesn't have to cost anything but without it, it comes at a heavy cost: your employees' well-being.

Foster a culture of connection with employee recognition

4. Overcome Zoom Fatigue with the Unplugged Challenge

Mindfulness and taking breaks throughout the workday is critical to engagement, productivity, and preventing burnout. For this 5 day challenge, employees are encouraged to unplug from technology for at least 1 hour a day. Afterwards, post on Cooleaf or your team's communication channel about how they spent their time. Not only does this challenge increase empathy, self-determination, job satisfaction, workplace performance, intuition, social relationships, and flexibility, but you might learn a fun fact or two about your co-workers, reinforcing team building!

Promote mental wellness with a fun meditation challenge

5. Inspire Intellectual Curiosity with the TED Talk Challenge

Professional development is a major component of wellness. In fact, the "reality slump", or the term used to describe the time when employee engagement and satisfaction falls, happens just one or two years into the job! So how do you retain your people? Inspire intellectual curiosity and foster professional development as part of your culture.

The TED Talk Challenge is an easy way to spark discussions within your teams beyond the day-to-day scope of your work. Post a TED talk on topics like leadership, current events, financial education, innovation, or inspiration. Employees that participate in the discussion receive points. Make this an ongoing monthly challenge by having different staff post a video each month!

Though some of these challenges are just 5 days, we hope it encourages employees to adopt healthier habits and mindsets for the long-term. Try out multiple challenges to see which ones your employees enjoy the most. Then, rinse and repeat with incentives! Survey participants at the end of the challenges with quarterly wellness pulse surveys to gain insights into areas of improvement. This gives employees an opportunity to suggest their own wellness program ideas, and hopefully, champion it themselves!  

Have you tried any of these wellness challenges?

If you're looking for other employee wellbeing solutions, from wellness activities to incentives, let us know! We'd love to hear from you.


Insights in an instant

Get more tips on creating exceptional employee, customer, and prospect experiences with our industry newsletter. Coming right to your inbox about two times a month. Sign up!

We will never share your email address with third parties.