Business is replete with sports metaphors—down to the wire, dropped the ball, knocked it out of the park—and there certainly are parallels, including motivating people to give their best. But even if your workday doesn’t start and end in a locker room, you may still want to think like a coach when it comes to recruiting and benefits. Culture and work-life balance are increasingly important to the workforce. Employees are drawn to companies that share their values and ideals. In this age of increased health consciousness, people of all ages are bonding over their fitness goals and activities. It’s no surprise then that having a strong wellness culture is one of the key elements that bond many of Fortune Magazine’s “Best Places to Work”.

Great Workplace Wellness Ideas Fit For Everyone

Whether it be through a group jog during the lunch hour or wearable devices (such as the FitBit and Apple Watch), wellness is becoming one of the best ways to bring your company’s employees together. To get you started, here are a few ideas on how you can create a close, connected workforce with a culture of health through your worksite wellness program:

Wearable device fitness challenges

It only takes a quick glance at the wrists of your co-workers to realize how popular wearable devices have become. While it may seem like we reached the peak of what many thought was a fad, industry experts expect the wearables market will double by 2021 to over 240 million users.

Wearables are popular not only because users can track their own health and fitness goals, but because they can interact with friends and co-workers who share their interest in exercise and well-being. One great way that your company can capitalize on this trend of social fitness is by holding workplace challenges through your employees’ wearable devices.

It’s easy to set up a fitness challenge for your workplace (whether it be a “weekend warrior” step challenge or a month-long initiative). Since all wearables include the ability to connect with contacts, the number of participants grows organically as your employees invite their co-workers to join in on the fun. These challenges allow employees to engage in friendly competition, cheer on their workplace friends, and meet new friends from other departments or locations. You may try incentives to encourage participation such as discounts on wearable devices, recognition for winning participants or teams, or even prizes (such as gift cards, paid time off, etc.).

Company Walk/Run

After talking about the latest in wearable device technology, it might seem a bit old-fashioned to recommend a team walk/run, but these events are popular for a reason.

  • Giving employees the option to walk, jog, or run maximizes participation by allowing them to engage at their personal level of comfort. In other words, it isn’t just an event for your company “Olympians”.
  • Many communities have existing corporate 5K events that minimize the amount of coordination and cost from your company. Additionally, many of these events support local charitable organizations.
  • The team-based nature of these events (fueled by team t-shirts or banners to add to the company spirit) help to bring your employees together to support each other and network with co-workers and other business leaders. As an added benefit, you get some great low-cost advertising for your business.

Another good incentive to maximize participation is to provide a free lunch or dinner for the walkers/runners post-event. This not only shows your appreciation and recognizes their efforts, but it also provides an added opportunity for networking and team-building.

Try incorporating one of these activities into your worksite wellness program and see how it works for your organization. You’ll be advocating for improved health, happiness, and productivity for your employees, while building trust and teamwork amongst your workforce. With a workplace health challenge, everyone wins!

Ideas for Creating a Fit-Friendly Workplace

The roster: Hire athletes (and other achievement-oriented types). You can train new hires to master on-the-job skills, but it’s hard to instill the kind of work ethic it takes to train for a marathon or play a collegiate sport.

Other helpful traits athletes bring to the workplace:

  • Planning. Athletes understand the value of incremental progress, constantly assessing where they stand relative to their goals and what they need to do next.
  • Not taking the easy road. Up at 5:00am to train? No one succeeds in sport without learning to say “yes” to hard work.
  • Resilience. In sports, setbacks are inevitable. Athletes learn from loss and move on, keeping their eye on the goal.
  • Team dynamics. Athletes understand not just how to share workload, but how to leverage the strength of others and adjust their own role to achieve shared goals.
  • Stewards of health. Managing training, nutrition, and sleep to achieve high performance gives athletes a keen sense of body awareness.

The equipment: Make it easy for all of your employees to be physically active, regardless of their ability and fitness level. Short periods of physical activity throughout the day counter the negative health effects of prolonged sitting and also improve cognitive function. Make frequent movement part of the cultural norm at your organization.

Consider offering these facilities and benefits:

  • Locker rooms and showers, or access to showers at a nearby gym or office building
  • Bike storage
  • Clearly marked stairwells
  • Movement-friendly work stations
  • Discount or free gym memberships
  • Onsite yoga classes
  • Onsite chiropractic care or back health classes
  • Discount or free activity trackers, along with incentives and challenges

The plays: Company-sponsored, healthy activities can be highly effective for recruiting, fostering teamwork, and solidifying a culture of health.

Of course, the golden rule of wellness programs applies here: offer a range of options to appeal to a variety of types. An evening softball game may be a fun social event for some, but difficult to juggle with family obligations for others. Competitions can be tremendous motivators for some, and a warning siren for others.

There are plenty of options for healthy activities:

  • Local and national charity events (e.g. March of Dimes, Tour de Cure, etc.)
  • Corporate leagues (Not limited to softball and bowling! Look for bocce, kickball, and even skiing in some states.)
  • Corporate Cup 5K walk/runs
  • Active volunteering like trail maintenance or litter pick-up
  • Internal step challenges (team or individual)

Your goal as “coach” at your organization is to be a team that attracts top talent, supports every individual’s path to high performance, and makes sure everyone gets some playing time!

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