Wellness Challenges

Why You Should Set Up a Step Challenge and How to Do It

Written by Kateri

When it comes to encouraging physical activity in the workplace, it’s important to design employee wellness programs that will motivate all your employees to get active. Wellness challenges are a great place to start your program! They build camaraderie, boost morale and increase employee satisfaction. But what kind of challenge is the best to start with? A simple activity like walking allows for employees of all fitness levels to participate. Challenges focused on steps encourage healthy habits in and outside of the workplace, create healthy competition and increase motivation throughout the organization.

Read on to learn more about this topic! Click on the sections below to jump right to your specific question.

Encourage employees to take more walking breaks throughout the day!

What is a Step Challenge?

A step challenge is simply a challenge that tracks the number of steps a person takes from walking or running (this is similar to a walking challenge, but the objective is different). They help create friendly competition in the workplace while also encouraging healthy living. Step challenges are easy to manage and can be set up in two different ways: either as an individual competition where each participant is competing against one another, or as a team-based challenge that combines everyone’s steps to reach one goal. Team challenges are great for bringing colleagues together, especially with remote workers.

Employers can set up inclusive, collective team challenges by involving several teams so that they are going up against each other. The benefit of using team-based challenges is that employers are able to encourage healthier habits, as well as boost overall team camaraderie.

Why Do a Step Challenge?

Workplace step challenges are a healthy way to foster friendly competition between co-workers, they encourage personal well-being as well as organizational well-being by building a culture of health consciousness. Here are some specific benefits of a workplace step challenge:

  • Promote a Culture of Goal-setting and Achievement: Competing against your peers, or by yourself in order to achieve a healthy challenge is a great way to re-encourage people to foster a goal-oriented mindset.
  • Build Teamwork & Group Cooperation: A step challenge is an awesome way to help foster friendships, improved communication, and team bonding for your organization. You will notice a stronger team camaraderie after your step challenge!
  • Encourages Healthy Habits among Employees: Once your employees get used to achieving fitness goals, they will be self-motivated to keep improving their health and wellness.
  • Increased Productivity and Reduced Labor Costs: Healthier employees are happier and more productive. When your employers are more effective, you’ll be able to get more output from your team, and accordingly, reduce your overall labor costs (as compared to their output).

Tracking Step Challenges

Luckily, with the technology we have today, tracking steps is pretty much automatic. If an employee has a smartphone and/or a wearable device, it’s likely their steps are being tracked. Our mobile culture increases employee participation and makes the challenge accessible for any and all employees, regardless of their location!

The next step to getting your step challenge started is deciding on a few important questions. Some things to consider are when you want the challenge to run, how long it will last, and if the challenge will be team-based or individual. Individual means that everyone is “head-to-head” against one another, and team-based consists of a number of different teams competing against each other. For example, say your company has offices located in different states, you could set up the challenge to have the different locations compete against each other. The length of the challenge also affects engagement. Monthly challenges tend to be the most productive and the perfect length to motivate healthy behaviors.

Typical Step Challenge Rules and Rewards

Another great thing about step challenges is that there aren’t many rules! The types of activities you want your employees to focus on is entirely up to you. So, say you want the step goal to increase each week, you can set the rule to change throughout the challenge. For example, you may set the step goal to be 8,000 steps/day for week one and increase that by 2,000 steps/day each week during the course of the challenge. The employees would then be rewarded for increasing their step count and motivated to live an active lifestyle. Another rule example could be that each week, one of the team meetings has to be taken as a walking meeting. This is an excellent way to promote more movement while also allowing the employees to take breaks from sitting at their desks all day! Setting rules focused on different opportunities employees have to move more throughout the day will improve engagement and the experience for employees.

In addition to rules, when a challenge includes prizes, employees are more likely to participate. People enjoy being rewarded for their efforts and feel more valuable. Rewards can be anything! Some examples would be allowing employees to decide where to have the company lunch, gift cards, and even extra day off. Feel free to get creative with your rewards. Tying any incentive, monetary or not, to the challenge will increase participation

Tips for Starting a Step Challenge 

In some cases, employees may not have any interest in joining the step challenge. So, if you want to run a successful challenge with a high participation rate, it’s important to provide the right information to encourage engagement. Here are some tips to keep in mind when running a step challenge:

Creative Ways to Promote Walking at Work

In most cases, employees will struggle to get more steps each day when they are sitting at a desk from 9-5. A good way to promote your step challenge while also increasing engagement is by promoting walking at work with unique ideas. Listed below are some approaches to promoting walking at work:

  • Encourage walking meetings
  • Recommend taking the stairs 
  • Provide resources about nearby walking trails  
  • Incentivize for walking the most steps each week 

Step Challenge Ideas/Examples

Step challenges aren’t difficult for employees to get involved in, so coming up with ways to spice up a simple step challenge is crucial for success! 

A fun way to get people walking more is by adding a “walk somewhere” component to the challenge. You or your employees can choose a location they would like to “walk to” and the goal is to reach that destination in steps by the end of the challenge. This is a friendly approach that get the entire workplace involved!

Another creative step challenge idea is to make it a group fundraiser. You can use donating to a charity as an incentive for employees to take more steps. With this type of step challenge, you are giving participants opportunities to get involved in charity work while also prioritizing their health. As the challenge admin, you can set company step goals and each time the group hits that target, they earn a donation to a charity. It’s a win-win situation! 

As you can see, there are a number of different ways to change up a simple steps challenge. Lastly, if you are still struggling to come up with ideas your employees will like, send out an employee survey! Check out IncentFit’s Pulse Surveys for examples. The best way to ensure engagement and success is by asking the employees themselves what type of challenge interest them, if they have any ideas of their own, what their fitness goals are, if they use fitness trackers, etc.

Free 30 Day Step Challenge Google Sheets Tracker

If you are looking to start your own step challenge at your company, but want more practice with it before, IncentFit has a free 30 day step challenge google sheets tracker that you can access. All you need to do is fill out the form and receive access to the challenge tracker!

Alternatively, you can also set up a walking challenge using IncentFit’s tried and tested wellness challenges product!

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

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