Wellness Challenges With Lasting Impact

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The premise behind corporate wellness challenges offers good intentions. Challenges promote a sense of mental and physical well-being that can solicit a sense of community across a team or organization. 

From a strategic standpoint, challenges help employees feel healthier, making them more productive and ultimately helping businesses achieve their business objectives. Tactics include inviting yoga instructors to host sessions, downloading mobile fitness applications, ticking off boxes on bingo cards, and taking cues from giant colorful wall posters.

Beyond health benefits, incentives to participate include everything from money and gift cards to time off and praise. The problem with short-term wellness challenges is: While intentions are good, they are typically incomplete and don’t address long-term impact. 

If you’re creating a wellness challenge or working to communicate one to your employees, here is what to consider to extend its value.

Lean in. 

Junior- and mid-level employees look at every move that senior leaders make in companies. That includes how much they participate in what some might consider auxiliary or non-essential activities like wellness challenges. Challenges require participation and support from all levels in an organization. 

As an agency executive, I took it upon myself to participate in wellness activities. I wanted to show junior staff that executives are making their mental and physical well-being a priority.

Recently, I had the opportunity to lead an agencywide wellness program. It was a six-week course, which included workshops and weekly videos. The agency even created a specific Chasing the Sun Slack channel. 

This agency has reported less employee turnover, and business revenue has increased. But it all happened in large part because the entire agency leadership participated, and the agency owner committed to her entire staff that they were making impactful changes to meeting frequency and work on Fridays. 

Recommendation: Ensure you have the backing, support and commitment of senior leadership participation before starting a new challenge. 

Be inclusive. 

Despite their potential benefits, “wellness” doesn’t always mean eating healthy snacks and doing planks. Being inclusive of all employees is essential to hosting a successful challenge. Design challenges in a way that enables all employees to participate no matter their condition or circumstances. 

One example: Are you creating bingo cards for employees? If so, consider including mental well-being tasks, including sending someone a thank-you card or volunteering your time for a local charity. Giving time and appreciating others not only helps others but ultimately makes us feel better ourselves.

Recommendation: Include your diversity and inclusion team in the discussion to ensure all perspectives are represented in the challenges.

Use challenges as a springboard for long-term change.

By themselves, wellness challenges will have minimal impact. However, partnering with your HR team can be a powerful opportunity to ensure a positive long-term business impact. HR leaders in your company are always looking for ways to effectively promote the existing benefits already offered by your company. 

One example is to address paid time off. Recently, I spoke at a conference for School PR leaders. I asked attendees if they had scheduled time off for the upcoming year. More than two-thirds of the respondents said they had not! 

I helped empower them to identify time to prepare for their next vacation. In addition, challenges are the perfect opportunity to remind employees of how to use paid time off appropriately and sick time in your organization. 

Recommendation: Connect with HR leaders to inform your teams of the benefits that your company provides.

About the Author
About the Author

Mark Mohammadpour, APR is a strategic communications executive, certified personal trainer, and health coach. His company, Chasing the Sun, offers health coaching tailored for public relations professionals. Mark spent most of his public relations career at Weber Shandwick and Edelman. Throughout his career, Mark led integrated communications programs for more than a dozen global brands, including Adobe, AMD, Microsoft, Samsung, and the U.S. Army. Mark also served as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Oregon Chapter president in 2016.

Published by Mark Mohammadpour, APR, CPT, CHC (he/him)

An accredited communications executive and certified health coach and personal trainer, Mark Mohammadpour’s (he/him) mission is to empower public relations professionals to prioritize their well-being so they can shine in the family room and the board room. Mark started a journey that led him to lose and keep off more than 150 pounds more than a decade ago. Through that journey, he has developed a practical and actionable approach to help people stay mentally and physically resilient. Before launching Chasing the Sun, Mark was an executive at Weber Shandwick and Edelman, leading award-winning public relations campaigns for global brands, including Adobe, Microsoft, Samsung, and the U.S. Army. Mark served as the PRSA Oregon Chapter president in 2016, is the “Workplace Wellness” columnist for PRSA’s Strategies & Tactics, and was honored to be named an Olga M. Haley Mentorship Award of Distinction recipient in 2020. A proud and lifelong Portland, Oregon-metro area resident, Mark is a graduate of the University of Portland.

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