Wellness Challenges

15 Employee Wellness Challenges that are Perfect for the Summer

Written by Kate

Maintaining a vibrant, effective workplace wellness program in the summer months can require a boost of creativity. Despite bringing plenty of sun and fun, the season can also bring a touch of inertia to some workplaces. Some studies show that workplace productivity drops by an average of 20% in the summer, while exercise and healthy eating habits also tend to decline. And with schedules disrupted by summer trips and warm weather distractions, it’s easy for wellness routines to lose momentum.

The solution? Cultivating creative, seasonally-aligned employee wellness challenges. Let’s explore some challenge ideas that will reinvigorate your teams this summer: 

1. 30-Day Hydration Challenge

About 60% of the human body is made up of water. Increased summer temperatures lead to increased sweating and fluid loss, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors or exercising. Proper hydration is essential to replace lost fluids and electrolytes to avoid dehydration. 

A hydration challenge doesn’t need to be complicated. Task employees with drinking a recommended amount of water daily for 30 days. They could log and share hydration hacks, fruity water recipes, progress pics, etc. Share innovative prizes for employees who come up with the most creative ways to increase water intake.

2. Grow Your Own Challenge 

With longer daylight hours, summer is the perfect season to start a gardening challenge. Encourage your team to start small herb or vegetable gardens at home. Organize learning sessions or workshops to exchange seedlings, expert gardening tips, harvest photos, etc.

A gardening challenge encourages people to get outside for some physical activity, fresh air, and vitamin D from the sunshine, while tending to their plants. Gardening can also provide a great sense of accomplishment, mindfulness, and stress relief.

3. Summer 5K Training Club 

As we’ve mentioned before, creating a culture of employee wellness is a marathon, not a sprint. And nothing builds endurance better than distance running. Running releases endorphins and the training process promotes goal-setting, increased confidence, and resilience. The event itself is often a morale-boosting celebration.

For those who’ve gotten out of exercise routines, consider an 8-10 week “couch to 5K” training schedule with regular group runs/walks building up to a 5K event.

4. Nature Bathing Bingo 

To quote the late American writer Edward Abbey, “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.” There’s no better time to explore this truth than summer. Create a BINGO card with things to check off each day that reconnect employees to nature—walk barefoot, read outside, listen for bird calls, cloud watch, eat a fresh garden meal, etc.

5. Unplug & Reconnect 

Thanks to rapid digitalization, it’s now possible to reach people at all hours of the day and night, no matter where they are—on vacation, at the beach, or even at the hospital. However, research suggests constant connectivity can increase anxiety and burnout, hinder collaboration, and reduce productivity. 

This summer, challenge employees to take regular tech breaks. Have them share and earn credit for offline activities like reading, playing outdoors with kids, hiking, etc. You can even offer prizes for the most creative, tech-free pursuits.

6. Sunrise/Sunset Spirit 

Intentionality is a rare value in the modern age. With so much to do every day, it’s possible to go with the flow without pausing to enjoy any moment, and that’s unfortunate because life has a lot to offer. This challenge takes care of that and doesn’t even take much time. 

Encourage starting days with sunrise yoga/meditation or ending with sunset hiking/walking clubs. Alternatively, arrange meetups focused on mindfulness and mealtimes aligned with natural light.

7. Everyday Olympian

The oppressive heat shouldn’t discourage your team from physical exercise. In fact, this is the best season to reignite enthusiasm. For example, create office “events” that playfully tap into the summer Olympic spirit, like water balloon tosses, office cart derbies, or seed spit contests. Games focused on movement and fun can help maintain the momentum of the company’s wellness initiatives.

8. Sustainability Summer 

While sustainability should be an all-year endeavor, summer is a prime time for many outdoor events, festivals, and activities. For instance, this is the best season for volunteer events like trash cleanups and recycling competitions. With higher energy and water consumption, it can also be the perfect time to introduce eco-friendly choices in the office.  

9. Photowalk Competition 

Encourage employees to get outside and log miles/steps by turning it into a photo scavenger hunt. Provide a list of nature themes (blooming flowers, wildlife, trails, etc.) and have people submit their best pics. Award prizes for most creative, funniest, etc. This is a fun way to get the steps in, recharge, and bond. 

10. Walking Meeting Madness 

According to the CDC, over 25% of Americans live sedentary lives – meaning they don’t get sufficient physical activity. This exposes them to various illnesses and chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers. 

Instead of being sedentary in a conference room, take advantage of the cloudless summer days to increase physical activity. Encourage employees to turn any meetings that don’t require a screen share into walking meetings outdoors. Have teams track their “walkie-talkie” miles and compete for most ground covered.

11. Lunchtime Fitness Buffet 

Where walking meetings are untenable, exercise during the 1-hour (or however long your policy dictates) lunch break. Organize a rotating schedule of short (say 30 minutes) group fitness sessions at lunch like yoga, Pilates, circuit training, and dance classes that employees can drop into. Burn calories and de-stress.

12. Gratitude Journaling 

Sometimes, the best exercise is simply sitting still and appreciating what you already have. As Melody Beattie said, “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

Have employees keep a daily gratitude journal during the summer, recording a few things they’re thankful for daily. Share inspiring entries and see whose perspective brightens the most.

13. Mindful Moments 

Summer is about relaxing moments and connection with oneself and others. That requires intentional slowing down to savor the present moment. 

Build in short group meditation/mindfulness breaks a few times a week, even just 5-10 minutes. These could be guided in person or via an app. Lean into summer’s “pause” vibe before the end-of-year chaos resumes. 

14. Kindness Campaign 

Do good if you want to feel good. Performing acts of kindness triggers the release of “feel-good” neurotransmitters like serotonin, boosting mood and creating a sense of well-being. Challenge people to log acts of kindness this summer – writing notes, volunteering, letting someone go ahead in line, etc. See who can spread the most goodwill over the summer.

15. Summer Reading Challenge or Book Club

Have people read the same uplifting/educational book and host weekly outdoor discussion groups where possible. This challenge combines mental wellness, social connection, and sunshine.

Final Thoughts

Although the sunny summer months can bring disruptions in routine and a lull in workplace engagement, they also present a prime opportunity to reinvigorate your team. So, don’t let the lazy days turn the brake on your employees’ health and productivity. Embrace the opportunity to get creative, have some fun, and implement programs to re-energize your people. After all, the most successful companies don’t take a warm weather break on being people-first organizations.

Want to learn about how IncentFit’s platform takes the busy work out of running engaging wellness challenges? Feel free to schedule a call with one of our experts today. Let us help you create a productive, healthy, and happier workplace!

Corporate Wellness Benefit Managers having a discussion while looking at an electronic tablet.

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