In Employee Engagement

By Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct

remote wellness program


It can be hard to maintain a cohesive culture within your organization when employees are not seeing each other regularly.

A properly designed wellness challenge is one element of carrying on the culture you have worked so hard to build.

The advice below is based on our own experience creating a remote wellness challenge.

At Service Direct, we were forced to transition quickly to a work-from-home model at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, like so many other businesses.

Using this challenge during that time was a helpful way to provide support, attention, and care for our valued employees. We hope our experience can help you craft a challenge that is perfect for your organization.

Step #1 – Establish Clear Goals for Your Remote Wellness Challenge

Start this process with some goals in mind, just as you would in other areas of your business.

What do you want to achieve by offering a Wellness Challenge to your employees?

Thinking about the desired outcomes will make it easier to organize the challenge and encourage individuals to participate.

In our case, we wanted to focus on overall wellness rather than something more specific like fitness or weight loss. Given the circumstances surrounding the timing of our challenge, we felt this was the most important way to go. We wanted to include as many of our employees as possible. Overall wellness is something that can benefit everyone.

Step #2 – Sort Out the Details

Before you broadcast the news of your remote wellness challenge to your entire staff, sort out some details. Three key points that you need to address are listed below –

  • Who’s in charge? It’s important to put one person in charge of the challenge. This will make participation easier, as everyone will know where to turn with questions. In a small organization, it may simply be the owner that runs the challenge. A bigger company could could ask for volunteers. Another possibility is to find someone who is passionate about the challenge and would like to help.
  • Establish a timeline. Your timeline is going to be one of the keys to success with this endeavor. Planning a short challenge might not be worth your effort. However, making it too long might cause people to lose interest along the way. For our purposes, we went with a three-month duration. This timeline allowed the challenge to run from the start of July to the end of September.
  • Create a Tracking System. It’s pretty easy to set up a central location for tracking the challenge results. We decided to set up a dedicated Slack channel for our challenge. You could also use Givitas and ask every day for people to share what they’ve done. Use something your team is used to so there is no unnecessary learning curve.

Step #3 – Establish a List of Activities

Perhaps the most important part of setting up a challenge is determining what activities will be included. Ours was not purely a fitness or weight loss challenge. It was about overall well-being. So, our list looked like this:

  • 3-point activities – 30 minutes of exercise, 4-hour digital detox, 7 hours of sleep in a night, eating 3 servings of fruits and veggies
  • 2-point activities – Drink at least 64 ounces of water in a day, share 3 things that you are grateful for in a day
  • 1-point activities – Journaling for 20 minutes, stretching for 20 minutes, meditate for 10 minutes, read for 30 minutes

Obviously, the customization options here are endless. Consider polling some of your employees prior to the start of the challenge. See what kinds of activities they would be interested in adding to the list.

Step #4 – Announce the Remote Wellness Challenge

With the details sorted, it will be time to announce your wellness challenge to all employees to invite participation. While an email blast is a natural place to start, we would recommend also using any other communication channels that you lean on within your organization.

One thing to think about regarding your announcement is the timing of your first message. Give your employees plenty of time to think about joining and to prepare for their participation.

For example, an employee who decides they want to participate might shop for some new exercise clothes if they are going to include fitness activities in their approach to the challenge. If you only give a day or two of advance notice, some employees might feel overwhelmed and decide just to pass altogether.

Step #5 – Let It Run

Once the challenge start date arrives, you can just let it run while completing weekly updates to the leaderboard. Everyone will be on the honor system to report their own results via the channel that you decided to use as your hub for the challenge.

Outside of the challenge hub, you might also want to update the rest of your employees once or twice before the end date arrives. These updates might encourage others to jump on board and join in the fun.

Step #6 – Have a Party!

After the challenge has been completed, schedule a party to celebrate everyone’s success and discuss what the next challenge may look like. With the realities of the pandemic still in place, we held a digital party where we announced the top finishers and shared stories from along the way. If you are going to include any prizes as part of your challenge, you can award those at this time, as well.

In the end, we were thrilled with the outcome of our Wellness Challenge. We had an excellent level of participation and it encouraged (digital) interaction during what could have otherwise been a very isolated time. Feel free to start with the framework we used for our challenge and then add in your own elements to make it a perfect fit for your organization.

remote wellness challenge

For ideas on how to go beyond wellness challenges to earn employee engagement more broadly, check out our free ebook.

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About the Author

Matt Buchanan is the Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, a technology company that offers local lead generation solutions for service businesses. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University. He has 15+ years of expertise in local lead generation, sales, search engine marketing, and building and executing growth strategies.

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