Most employees have become used to the same old wellness activities year in and year out. To help you freshen up our Wellness Calendar this year, here are some unique twists on old ideas.
1. Lunchtime classes taught by fellow employees
Trying to drive employee engagement in your wellness initiative? Give some of your fellow coworkers a leadership opportunity in guiding lunchtime classes/discussions. Paying professionals to teach one hour classes each week can get kind of pricey, and odds are that there are individuals in your company right now who have, if not the same expanse of knowledge that a professional has, at least enough knowledge on a specific topic that they could share with others valuable information on how to become emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially fit. Give your employees the opportunity to share what they’ve learned about wellness, and you might be surprised at the vast amount of knowledge you have available right in the office.
Putting the idea into action: We would suggest sending around a sign-up sheet to see both what your employees are interested in learning about, or sharing their knowledge in. Once the sign-up list gets back around to you, set up the lessons to occur as often or as infrequently as you’d like.
(Hint: Some employees may be hesitant to sign up, but if you directly ask someone to share a small presentation on what they’ve learned, most will agree to help out. Also, incentives are always a great way to increase participation.)
2. Compile a library of Alternative Exercise Equipment
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “A library of Exercise Equipment? Aren’t you just talking about a gym?” Well, not exactly. What we’re proposing is providing an accumulation of exercise videos (with each video’s accompanying exercise equipment ) AND/OR alternative desk-sitting equipment. One library is focused on increasing wellness outside of the office (via video-led exercises), while the other promotes wellness AT the office by helping employees engage their body more while working.
Cost: Ranges from Free-$10 per employee
Putting the idea into action: Try to collect a variety of exercise videos, like Hip Hop Dance, Yoga, Insanity, Jillian Michael’s, etc. If any exercise equipment is needed for the video, make sure you have it on hand for your employees to check out as well. In the other library, make sure you have several standing desks, treadmill desks, exercise balls, kneeling chairs, etc. available for your employees to try while they’re at the office. In either library make sure to instill a check-out time limit and fine if the material isn’t turned back right away in order to ensure the library’s collection won’t decrease over the year.
(Hint: If you don’t have the funds readily available to go out and purchase anything, ask your employees if they would be willing to lend their videos/equipment to the library for their fellow coworkers to try out.)
3. Start a regular health cook-off and distribute each cook-off’s winning recipes
You may have seen variations of this activity, but it’s definitely an idea worth repeating since good nutrition is key to a healthy lifestyle. Also all cultures enjoy a gathering around food, so you can be assured that this activity will be a big hit. Incentivize participation by giving out a prize to the best recipe shared each month, then compile each month’s winners into a Company Recipe book.
Cost: Ranges from Free to $5 per employee
Putting the idea into action: Give each month’s potluck a theme, like Summer Salads, Winter Greens, etc and allow your employees go wild with their interpretation of the theme. Hold a taste-testing and have everyone vote on their favorites to know which recipes to include in the Company Recipe book. Then go as cheap or extravagant as your budget permits when distributing the recipe books out. If you would like to offer a hard copy, but don’t have the funds to do so in your budget, offer to sell them, or do a fundraiser.
4. Set aside a Tennis Shoe Consultation day
Ever wondered if professional running shoes are worth the cost? Wonder no more! Ask your local running shoe store if they’d be willing to provide a consultant to help you and your fellow coworkers understand the difference a good running shoe can make. Odds are the store manager will jump at the chance to share their knowledge (and their product) with your employees. Who knows, maybe you can even negotiate a deal for all those who purchase a new pair of shoes after their consultation!
Putting the idea into action: A quick online search, or stroll around a shopping mall will reveal your local chapter of Running Shoe Goodness. Give them a ring and set up a date and time for one of more of their representative to come out along with any necessary equipment (like a treadmill). Since our feet’s shape tends to change throughout the day It is recommended that you meet with a consultation either after a long run, or at the end of the day. With that in mind feel free to coordinate this activity with a Company Walk or 5k to help your employees find the best sneaker for their feet.
5. Begin a healthy snack “dish”
With the exception of Costco, very few stores will allow you to open up their products and try them out. How do you know you will like it if you don’t try it? Well with this activity you can help remove that doubt from your employee’s minds by sharing samples of healthy snacks from their own grocery store!
Cost: Ranges from $.10 to $2 per employee
Putting the idea into action: Check out the local grocery store and pick up the items you would like to share for the week. Consider 100 calorie snack options, fiber bars, pre/post-workout shake mixes, a variety of veg/fruit dips, etc when deciding what to bring to the office. When you start to run out of ideas, ask your employees for other healthy snacks they’d like to try, or consider registering for a healthy snack subscription box.
6. Once a month provide a free stocked breakfast bar for employees
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of day, and it’s clear why when you think about some of it’s benefits (i.e. higher metabolism, lowered cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, increased energy and memory, I could go on and on). But the fact is there are those in your office who think that they are too busy, or not hungry enough, etc. to eat breakfast in the morning. And while their excuses may sound reasonable, they truly aren’t if there’s anything you can do about it.
Cost: Ranges from $.10 to $2 per employee
Putting the idea into action: Once a month (or more if you’re feeling really generous), set out a variety of breakfast items (based on your budget size). If your budget is on the smaller side try putting up an oatmeal or pancake bar, with a variety toppings. (Some possible oatmeal toppings: honey, white or brown sugar, fruit and milk; for the pancakes: jam, peanut butter, syrup, fresh fruit.) As both oatmeal and pancakes are incredible inexpensive you’ll be able to get a lot of bang for your buck -particularly if you invite your coworkers to bring any topping of their choice to share.
7. Promote Gardening
When, as a whole, the nation is eating less than 3 servings a day, what can you do to increase the fruit/vegetable consumption of your office? Well, one way you may go about it is by offering free fruit/vegetable seeds to those interested in cultivating their own fruits and vegetables.
Cost: Ranges from $.50 to $5 per employee
Putting the idea into action: Pass out individual packets or buy in bulk and divy out the seeds with planting tips. Worried that the seeds won’t be put to use? Create an office plot where all those in the office can work together on a garden. Don’t have the space for a full on garden? Place potted plants near the office windows for employees to use for herbs, leafy greens, etc.
8. Employee-run Wellness Activity Vote
What’s the easiest way to get your fellow coworkers involved in the annual wellness initiative? Why a company-wide submissions/vote for that year’s wellness activity of course! Everyone wants a wellness plan personalized to them and their tastes, and through this activity you can give them the chance to experience just that.
Cost: Ranges from Free to Whatever you want to spend on Incentive Prizes
Putting the idea into action: This activity can go one of two ways: either have everyone choose from a handful of options that you’ve already selected or keep the options limited to those submitted by the employees themselves. If you would like to add another aspect to the selection feel free to add a design contest for the exercise tops you will be passing out at the company wellness event.
9. Supply access to a weekly healthy veggie subscription box/basket
Another way to ensure that your employees are able to consume the recommended amount of fruits/veggies a week is to assist them in signing up for a fruit/vegetable subscription service, like this one. With your help they could start receiving a box of local, seasonal produce on a regular basis.
Cost: Ranges from Free to $20 per employee enrolled
Putting the idea into action: This activity could also be done one of two ways: First off, if you don’t have the funds to assist in the subscription purchase itself you can volunteer the grounds of your company for the pick-up/arrangement of the fruit/vegetable purchases. If the pick-up can also be arranged to happen on a work day then the fruit/vegetable packages can be sent home with the employees at the end of the work day. The Second way this activity can be accomplished is to assist in all or part of the subscription costs of each employee that wishes to participate. If you also participate in the service you may think about sending out recipe ideas that would include some of the less common fruits/vegetables that show up in the package.
10. Organize regular “Make it Better” meetings
Our last wellness activity suggestion is one that can be combined with any other activity you choose. This activity targets the health and wellness of your company and product, by inviting all those who keep it to running to attend a brainstorm of all the ways the company, office space and products can be made even better.
Putting the idea into action: You can organize the meeting to be an open forum where any and every one can attend, or a semi-formal meeting where the department heads get together with their department’s insights. However you go about it, these meetings will help bring you greater insight into how your business is operating and how your product is effecting others.
Image Credits: University of the Fraser Valley, slgckgc, trazomfreak, Elvert Barnes, Andrea_44, musicfanatic29, Steve Paul, Dr. Abdullah Naser, Nick Saltmarsh, Maryland GovPics