Can an Office-Wide Fitness Challenge Boost Company Morale?

Hands in office during fitness challenge huddle.There are plenty of things we’re used to doing with our coworkers: meetings, post-work happy hours, Friday lunches, holiday parties, etc. But one thing that isn’t always at the top of the workplace-bonding list is wellness. When it comes to health and fitness, these are areas that we generally tend to keep out of the office and at the gym instead. But bringing some exercise to the office in the form of a fitness challenge may do a bit more than just boost employees’ health – it could help improve company morale, too.

There are plenty of reasons that encouraging fitness-related activities in the workplace can help boost officewide morale, including increased productivity (the healthier the employee, the more focused and hard-working they’re likely to be) and health-related absenteeism. But on a more emotional level, companies that show some kind of commitment to health tend to boost employee morale by developing a stronger sense of trust and camaraderie between team members; a camaraderie that plays into the natural competitiveness of the workplace but channels it into something super positive, with a really healthy payoff.

“Often overlooked is the potential to strengthen an organization’s culture and to build employee pride, trust, and commitment,” said a study in the Harvard Business Review regarding the importance of office-wide health initiatives. “The inherent nature of workplace wellness—a partnership between employee and employer—requires trust. Because personal health is such an intimate issue, investment in wellness can, when executed appropriately, create deep bonds.”

Now, while there are some fitness initiatives that require a little more time (and maybe money) to get into place – rallying the troops to run a 5k together, for example, and maybe offering some prizes to top competitors – it’s possible to get the same kind of benefits from smaller, simpler-to-organize fitness challenges. This could include things like a month-long stair challenge (encourage your employees to skip the elevator and take the stairs, and then award prizes at the end of the month for those who were able to do it the most) or push-up challenges (same idea, but this time with push-up breaks through the day). By finding small ways to channel employees’ competitive energies this way, you can ultimately get moods, morale, and productivity up while simultaneously keeping the health of the company (and, importantly, its employees) in tip-top shape.