The start of a new year brings a sense of optimism. It’s a chance to start fresh and grow in new ways from what you did last year. With most American workers spending 40 hours or more per week at their jobs, the workplace is a great place to jumpstart wellness initiatives that will help your employees at work and beyond. Here is a list of ideas for workplace wellness themes you could have for each month of 2018, complete with event and challenge ideas.
January – Stay Hydrated
The holiday season offers a smorgasbord of festive drinks. The weather is a bit chillier than usual, which means it can be easier to gravitate to warm beverages like coffee or hot chocolate than to water. Take the month of January to get back into the habit of drinking enough water every day – aim for at least 64 ounces, or eight glasses, per day. Challenge your employees to drink at least 32 ounces of water during their time at work every day. Turn your first staff meeting of the year into a kick off for your employees’ water drinking habits and give each of them a new water bottle to encourage them to drink more water throughout their workday.
February – Stay Rested
Challenge your employees to sleep at least 7-8 hours per night during the month of February. Getting sufficient sleep is not a luxury. It is a necessity. Sufficient sleep reduces risk of disease and keeps you alert at work, preventing accidents or loss of productivity on the job. There are a lot of resources available on the CDC website. A great place to start would be sharing this podcast with your employees.
March – Learn Something New
Mental stimulation enhances employee wellness. Offer your employees the opportunity to take a simple course in an area of professional interest to them. Lynda.com is an excellent resource to have available to your employees, as it offers classes in just about any professional area imaginable. If you can, offer some sort of recognition or reward to employees who complete a professional development course during the month of March.
April – Get Active
The weather is warming up, so your muscles should be, too. Promote physical exercise to your employees. Host a workplace walk during the lunch hour one day, or start a company team in a local sports league. Encourage your employees to get up and get active for at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days per week. They could take a walk during their lunch break or play with their children at the park in the evening. The main thing is to move!
May – Be Mindful
National Mental Health Awareness Week is May 14-20 this year. If your employees participated in the April exercise challenge, they are already well on their way to better mental health in May, as exercise is a proven mood booster. Make sure you are doing what you can to keep the workplace environment kind and safe for your employees. As a special event, you could hold a “Lunch & Learn” session on resilience at work. Bring in a mental health professional to talk to your employees and give them positive strategies for dealing with stress.
June – Cook More
Eating home cooked food is not only better for you, it also saves money. Hold a cooking challenge for your employees where they are challenged to pack their lunches for work every day for two weeks. Having nutritious food at midday will help employees have the energy they need to power through the remainder of their work day. You don’t have to host a cooking event—although that could be fun—but try something simple like sending out an email to your employees that contains healthy lunch recipe options and ideas to prepare them for the challenge.
July – Get Outside
July is National Parks & Rec Month. If you have a national park, or even a local park, nearby, challenge your employees to visit a park at least once throughout the month. Host an outdoor company picnic and barbecue at a local park. Soak up the summer!
August – Help Others
Look outward and volunteer to help others in need. Plan one day where you and your staff do a volunteer project together. You could challenge your employees to collect food to donate to a local food pantry at the end of the month and then go do your volunteer project there. If you have a smaller company and you know of a coworker in dire need of help, plan a day to go help them out. Think outside the box.
September – Financial Fitness
Host a seminar for your staff to better understand financial planning and the opportunities available to them through the organization. Partner with HR to make sure employees have an awareness of their financial planning options and encourage employees to meet with an HR staff member if they are confused about any aspect of their financial options in the workplace. Empower employees to have financial success in the future by starting in the present.
October – Meatless Mondays
Encourage employees to follow the Meatless Monday challenge during the month of October and get a jumpstart on healthy eating at the start of the holiday season. Here are some of the benefits:
- Reduces heart disease and stroke
- Limits cancer risk
- Fights diabetes
- Cuts weekly budget
- Reduces greenhouse gases
Send your employees vegetarian recipe ideas and enter employees who participate into a drawing for a prize at the end of the month.
November – Be Grateful
The month of Thanksgiving is the perfect time to host a gratitude challenge. Suggest to your employees that they write out at least 5 things they’re thankful for every day through the month of November. In the workplace, have a day where employees are encouraged to write a kind message to a coworker thanking them for something they have done.
December – Be Relaxed
As the holiday season gets into full swing, it can be easy for employees to become stressed at work and at home. Challenge your employees to do some sort of stretching or deep breathing exercise for 10 minutes every day during December. They may want to check out these Exercises for Computer Users and Office Workers. Host a special event in your office where people can come and receive a complimentary chair massage. After spending hours at a desk every day, nothing says stress relief like a massage to alleviate the tension that builds up in the back, neck, and hands.
We are at the start of this brand-new year, which means it’s the perfect time to test out new strategies and things that could improve you and your employees’ wellbeing. I hope you will put some of these wellness ideas into practice at your organization this year—take the ideas and adjust them to fit your organization. Happy 2018!
17 Things Your Workplace Can Do For Mental Health Month Activities -- https://www.wmhi.com.au/education/mental-health-month-activities/
18 CORPORATE WELLNESS IDEAS AND WELLNESS ACTIVITIES ANY WORKSITE CAN DO -- https://www.wellsteps.com/blog/2017/01/27/wellness-ideas-wellness-activities-wellness-initiatives/
Exercises for Computer Users and Office Workers -- https://www.usc.edu.au/media/1000574/Exercises-for-Computer-Users-and-Office-Workers.pdf
Get Enough Sleep (podcast link) -- https://www2c.cdc.gov/podcasts/player.asp?f=8640488
Wellness Topics, Events & Challenge Ideas -- http://www.ndworksitewellness.org/docs/2014summit/program-ideas-topics-events-challenges.pdfWorkplace Wellness Challenges – Fun, Effective, and Free! -- http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/worksite-wellness/workplace-wellness-challenges/