Key Post Highlights
> Health challenges at work are possible, but you might need to get creative.
> Health is not about “good” & “bad.” It’s about making choices that work with your body.
> How we talk about health can impact how successful a wellness challenge is.
From Valentine’s Day parties to putting together the CareContent Cookbook to organizing a book club (check out our current book!), our Office Fun Team does its best to bring good vibes to the CareContent Team. We love finding new, meaningful ways to engage.
As a company that serves and supports a range of healthcare and healthcare-adjacent organizations, health is always top of mind. So participating in a health or wellness challenge might feel like a logical next step for Office Fun.
Done wrong and a health challenge may become overly competitive and team members may feel discouraged from participating.
Done well, a health challenge at work can bring teammates closer together. It can encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and try a new activity — or make a new goal for their health.
So if you are thinking of starting a wellness challenge at work (like for American Heart Month), here are 4 things to keep in mind to help your team be successful.
1. Think Outside the Box About What It Means to Be “Healthy”
There are many ways you can still focus on health in the workplace — it might just look different from a traditional step per day or even a weight loss challenge. When thinking about what might work for your team, consider their personalities and what kinds of activities they respond to.
Are they always down to try something new? Have you heard people saying they wish they had more time to prepare meals? Are they already super fitness conscious and love to push each other? Many different factors can influence what kind of challenge you organize, and it can be good to ask your team about their goals.
You may need to get a little creative about how you approach your challenge, but here are some ideas to get you started.
One challenge we’ve conducted at CareContent is a Water Challenge. I’ll be honest though — in thinking about our language around health, we didn’t call it that. We called it ABC Water Goals (All ‘Bout CareContent Water Goals). Our approach was simple. Everyone decided for themselves how much water they wanted to drink each day. Our spreadsheet for tracking was each team member’s name, the date, and two completion options for the question “Did you meet your goal?” Yes or not quite! We focused on individual goals, team accountability, and just one way of focusing on our health for 2 weeks.
Mental Health Challenge
In addition to your physical health, mental health is a great focus for team activities as well. A mental health challenge might be something you formally organize — or it can be something that simply becomes a part of your workplace culture.
For us at CareContent, we make reflection a part of who we are. When life gets busy and hard, you can find us in our team chat with the prompt, “What’s something good that’s happened recently, and what are you looking forward to?” When we come back from winter break, everyone is asked to share “The best gift they got this year AND the best gift they gave.”
These might not seem like a traditional “health challenge,” but they can help your team slow down, focus on the positive, and even cause a shift in perspective — all of which can be good for mental health.
Health Literacy Challenge
Health isn’t just about what we do with our bodies or brains each day — it’s also about how much we know about our own health. Another wellness challenge you could do at work could have a goal of everyone learning and sharing something new about health. Ask everyone to learn more about one aspect of health, healthy choices, or a health condition that interests them.
At CareContent, this is something of an “unofficial” part of the job. We are always sharing health news we find interesting and shouting each other out in the editing process if we learn something new from reading someone’s piece. You can also make this approach more formal, by having each team member put together a 5-minute presentation that can be shared all at once or at a series of meetings. This can help boost your team’s health literacy, and in turn, their overall health.
2. Good Health Is Not A Moral High Ground
Whether we mean to or not, when we think about health, we often think about morality. Some foods are “good” and some foods are “bad.” Some activities are “good” and others are “bad.” People either have “good” health or “bad” health. This way of thinking takes something neutral — the way our bodies function — and turns it into an issue of right or wrong.
In reality, different foods help your body do different things. Different bodies do different things. You aren’t a bad person if you can’t bench press your body weight, and you’re not a good person if you only eat green things on Tuesday.
We have to disconnect health from morality and recognize that health has many different facets. Everyone — including medical practitioners — has a different definition of what healthy means for them and everyone’s health goals are different.
If you’re creating a health challenge at work, these are inner biases and assumptions you will have to challenge yourself — and may need to present to your team. Taking into consideration other people’s thoughts about health can help you approach a potential wellness challenge thoughtfully and with an open mind.
3. Remember: Language Matters
When it comes to the way we think and talk about health, language matters. This is especially true when it comes to the way that we talk about health at work. Many of the words and phrases we use around health can be packed with shame, guilt, and negative associations.
Even just the phrase “health challenge” might set some team members on edge — because for many people with chronic illness or pain, their health may already feel like a challenge.
Be conscious of the words you are using when you talk about health, food, and physical activity. Talking about dieting for example can be difficult for someone who struggles with disordered eating habits or an eating disorder.
Think about how you want to talk about your wellness challenge, and how your messaging can be interpreted. It takes time to be intentional about your language, but if you want your health challenge to be a positive experience, it’s definitely worth it.
4. Team Activities Fun Should Be Fun
It might sound obvious, but if a wellness challenge is a part of your office fun, it should be fun. It should bring people together and help them achieve their goals.
Organized health events are not something you can throw together overnight and hope for the best — it takes thoughtful planning, reflection, and maybe even some unlearning to be successful.