Build Your Employees’ Willpower and Health with Daily Mini-Challenges

One of the easiest ways to improve your employees’ health is to offer mini goals or daily challenges. They introduce your employees to a healthier behavior instantly, without a big commitment. Many view willpower, or the effort and drive needed to work toward a goal, as a limited resource. But cognitive science supports the idea that it may be akin to a muscle strengthened with practice. Research shows that consistency and repetition are the keys to forming a habit, and the best approach is to begin with baby steps.

Small goals, such as daily health challenges, slowly decrease negative behavior (rather than eliminating it) and help your employees build a positive lifestyle habit, starting right now. Most people view health as either something that takes a great deal of effort or something that’s fixed, says Colleen Seifert, a University of Michigan psychology professor. When someone gets sick, they sometimes discount that they control their own health. You can empower your employees to improve their health immediately, and encourage them to form healthy habits over time, by presenting mini challenges.

Key Characteristics of Mini Challenges

Mini challenges are daily prompts to encourage employees to try a healthy behavior.

  • They are easy to accomplish: Daily challenges are attainable goals, such as “Drink one extra glass of water today.” These challenges get someone to try being healthier right now, without the huge commitment of a long-term goal.
  • They offer variety: Mini challenges refresh daily with new tasks to maintain interest. It is also important to randomly repeat previous challenges to help your employees build healthy habits over time.
  • They allow room for growth: To ensure variation in difficulty, you can add an extended goal or a bonus challenge for those who complete a task often, such as “You did it! Here is the next step: Drink two extra glasses of water today. Are you ready for the challenge?”
  • They are rewarding: Your employees can enjoy the sense of accomplishment when they complete a daily challenge. This can encourage your employees to continue participating.

How to Implement Mini Challenges

Engage your employees in mini challenges with periodic communications, via print, Web, SMS text messaging and more. If you want to promote a mini challenge, tie a research-backed fact to the topic to demonstrate why your employees should participate. Visuals are always an excellent way to grab attention, too. Below are some examples of topics to help you brainstorm daily health challenges you can implement.

  • General wellness (e.g., “Do one more healthy activity today, such as walking one (extra) block.”)
  • Nutrition (e.g., “Try a new veggie or fruit today.”)
  • Exercise or movement (e.g., “Complete five pushups today.”)
  • Sleep (e.g., “Cut the caffeine after noon today.”)
  • Emotional health (e.g., “Take time to list three things you are grateful for today.”)
  • Time management (e.g., “Schedule 10 minutes of something you love today.”)
  • Family health (e.g., “Enjoy a sit-down meal at home with your family tonight.”)
  • Healthy identity (e.g., “Set your walking shoes where you can see them so you will remember to go for a walk tonight.”)

Asset Health has incorporated daily mini challenges into our wellness offering. You can learn more about them here.