More than 81 percent of American businesses with at least 50 employees engage in some type of health promotion program, according to the Wellness Councils of America. One component of these programs is employee fitness challenges, which are contests between employees — either individually or as part of a team — to increase their physical activity and manage their weight in a fun way. These challenges provide several benefits for both employees and employers and you can implement them in a variety of ways.
By boosting employee fitness, corporate wellness and fitness challenges help employees to develop healthier eating and exercise habits, manage stress better and improve their overall health. These challenges also reduce absenteeism and improve job performance and morale. Plus, they can save your company money. Providence Everett Medical Center saved $3 million dollars over nine years as a result of their employee Wellness Challenge program, according to the Wellness Councils of America.
Weight Loss Challenges
Sixty-eight percent of Americans are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Through an employee weight-loss challenge, you can do your part to stem the rise of this epidemic while making it more convenient and fun for your employees to meet their weight-loss goals. Some companies provide free gym memberships and online diet and exercise journals for employees to track their progress. They also provide incentives such as cash prizes or trips to employees who lose the most weight.
Marathon Charity Challenges
Charity runs and marathons are popular ways to raise money for charities and can complement your employees’ goals to lose weight, get fit and give back. For a marathon charity challenge, employees collect donations for walking, running or “wheel-chairing” in a marathon or mini-marathon and donate the proceeds to a charity your company supports. You can develop this type of fitness challenge just within your company or compete against employees from other companies.
According to the Northern Ohio Area Chamber of Commerce, pedometer contests are a proven, budget-friendly way to increase exercise among employees. The goal is to encourage employees to walk the commonly recommended 10,000 steps a day, which 80 percent of Americans fail to do. Employees can either compete as individuals or as part of a group or team.
If you or your human resources department need advice on starting an employee fitness challenge in your company, contact your health insurance provider. Some of them, such as BlueCross Blueshield, provide Employee Fitness Contest Kits with information on how to prepare, execute and evaluate the challenge. You can also bring a corporate wellness consultant or company on board to help get your program started.