Resource of the month: - Explore the best wellness challenge ideas for your workforce

How to Design a Winning Step Challenge at Work?

21 min read
Published on 19 November, 2019

Corporate lifestyle can be mundane, with every second employee living a repetitive, hamster wheel-like routine. It is here that maintaining daily fitness becomes difficult.

The time crunches and lack of motivation are factors working against fitness goals, putting employees at a higher risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Step challenges work as an easy medium to break this cycle and promote an active lifestyle.

As the CTO of a wellness platform, I’ve observed firsthand the impact of community on the well-being of corporate employees. In fact, workplace groups today have emerged as an important group or community among employees. Implementing group activities like the office walking challenge will not only tap into that existing sense of community but will enhance it and give it a holistic meaning.

These challenges are a powerful tool that employers can implement to promote health and wellness in the workplace, boosting morale as well as driving enthusiasm while potentially reducing healthcare costs. Introducing corporate wellness programs like an office walking challenge ensures that employees get their daily dose of physical activity.

Taking cues from my own fitness journey, coupled with the learnings from the wellness drive strategies, I have created this master guide. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about office walking challenges, from why they're important to how to set one up and make it a success

What is a Step Challenge, and what does it do?

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A step or walking challenge is a wellness challenge wherein employees compete against each other by walking a pre-established number of steps throughout the day. The challenge is created with the help of a fitness tracking app that automatically registers the number of steps your employees have walked in a day. Employees can track each other's progress on a leaderboard, creating a sense of motivation and competition.

It is a competition where participants track their daily steps to reach a set goal. This goal can be personalized for each participant or set as a standard for everyone. Challenges can be individual, where participants compete against themselves, or team-based, where groups compete against each other.

The beauty of a walking challenge is its simplicity. All you need is a way to count steps. But to make your challenge successful, it's important to set challenging yet achievable goals. This balance will keep participants motivated without feeling overwhelmed.

Walking is the simplest form of physical activity that people of all ages and fitness levels can do.

National Library of Medicine research 2019,cites women as "low active" (5104 daily steps). In contrast, men were categorized as being "moderately active," (9357 daily steps). 26% of study participants with complete pedometer data had a significant increase in the overall step count during the 3-month workplace walking intervention.

The Importance of Wellness Programs and Step Challenges

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Employee wellness programs are no longer just a perk. They're an essential strategy for improving employee health, increasing loyalty, and reducing turnover. Among these programs, walking challenges stand out for their simplicity and effectiveness. They encourage physical activity in a fun, competitive manner, fostering a healthier and more engaged workforce.

These challenges encourage employees to increase their physical activity by walking a certain number of steps each day. The benefits of this simple activity are backed by science. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, improve mental health, and boost overall quality of life.

A daily walk can prevent one in 10 premature deaths by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke by 17% and cancer by 7%. - The University of Cambridge

In addition, the friendly competition of a walking challenge can strengthen team bonds and create a more positive work environment.

It has numerous health benefits such as -

  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Increased immunity
  • Improved bone strength
  • Reduced body fat levels
  • Increased endurance
  • Prevention of health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, joint pain, etc.

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Creating a simple step or walking challenge can do wonders for your company by increasing employee engagement and improving employee health.

Why Organize a Step Challenge?

Workplace step count challenge isn't just a stride towards better health; it's an effective way to promote physical activity and boost employee morale. Here are a few reasons why participating in a step challenge is beneficial.

1. Promotes a culture of achievement

A step count challenge gives employees a purposeful goal to work towards, followed by a sense of accomplishment if and when they reach it. Such challenges ignite a culture of achieving goals.

When employees compete against their peers or even themselves, they are more likely to gain a goal-oriented mindset, along with better health.

2. Nurtures Healthy Habits

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A step count challenge encourages employees towards healthier habits, starting from walking more to mindful eating. Healthy habits will help combat diabetes, obesity, heart disease and other chronic diseases. This kind of transformation leads to well-being. Once our employees get used to the newfound fitness goals, they will be self-motivated to keep improving their health and wellness.

3. Fosters Teamwork

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Collaborative efforts take a front seat during a step count challenge. When employees are working to reach a common goal, it fosters a sense of teamwork and community. After the step challenge, you will witness bonds of friendship and enhanced communication among employees.

4. Increases Productivity, Trims Costs

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Studies showcase that active employees are more productive and have fewer instances of absenteeism. Healthier employees are happier and contribute to higher efficiency. The ripple effect translates into reduced labor costs.

Step count challenges also help employees at a personal level. It Improves their physical and mental health and confronts sedentary behavior. It promotes healthier choices and raises awareness on the importance of being active.

Step count challenges further supercharge workplace productivity. A Stanford University study found that walking increases creative output by 60 percent. Boosted workplace productivity also means improved energy and mood levels of individuals and stress-reduced teams.

If you also want to improve employee well-being, a step challenge is a great avenue. It is indeed a fun and effective way to improve health and encourage physical activity.

Tips for starting a workplace step challenge

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Setting up your office walking challenge need not be intimidating. With the right approach, it can be a smooth process. It is a transformative journey that amplifies well-being while embracing friendly competition.

Crafting the office walking challenge comes with intricacies, and this section will guide you in setting up a successful one.

1. Define the Challenge

Determine whether the challenge will be in an individual or team-based format. Individual challenges pit colleagues against each other, while team-based challenges propel everyone toward a collective goal. Decide on the format, duration, and goals of the challenge. This foundational step sets the stage for the challenge's rhythm and outcomes.

2. Set a Time Frame

Determine when the challenge will start and how long it will last. Find the balance between ample time for progress and a timeline that doesn't dissipate enthusiasm. Shorter challenges, usually spanning a month, are often effective, providing enough time to allow employees to witness rapid progress but not so long that they lose interest.

3. Keep your step challenge short and simple

Keeping your step contest short and simple is essential. It is better to go for a 30-day or month-long challenge when it can ignite a better impact instead of a really long challenge. Lengthier challenges suit some, but most thrive with concise bursts of competition.

While keeping it short is impactful, the project should be repeatedly run with different formats and trendy challenges. Momentum thrives in shorter spans, driving positive habits. So, why wait? Start with the 30-day step challenge. Here is a sample template to help you get started.

30-days-step-challenge-template

You might also like: 30 days squat challenge

4. Effective communication

Announce the challenge with clear instructions on participating to your team. Send messages through various internal channels, personalized emails, and social media with regular updates and health tips to keep participants engaged. Leverage the strength of communication to echo the challenge's success across the organization.

5. Step Tracking

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Tracking is the pulse of any step challenge, and today, we have technologies that track steps seamlessly. Wearable devices and smartphone apps make monitoring steps a breeze, regardless of geographical location. Step trackers assists with better accessibility.

6. Provide Exciting Rewards

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Employee participation transforms into a passionate pursuit if a challenge is incentivized with rewards and prizes. People like and appreciate being rewarded for their work, whether with a coveted gift card, reward points, or non-monetary rewards. There is no bound to creativity when it comes to rewarding. Rewards for fitness increase participation - be it in any form.

Suggested read: Wellness Rewards: Prioritizing Employee Well-being

7. Step Challenge Motivation

In the ebb and flow of any challenge, maintaining motivation is essential. Regular communication and reminders, along with leaderboard updates and rewards, help maintain motivation and engagement.

Of course, you might witness fluctuations in engagement and motivation levels. In any project, this can happen, but you shouldn't worry about it. An environment that encourages and ensures enthusiasm will certainly motivate employees to participate in the step challenge.

8. Provide Support

Support and assistance are essential for any project to sustain. People participate with a purpose and might have their queries or problems. Offer resources and support to help participants reach their goals. Good support and assistance will also build better provider-participant relationships.

Types of Step Challenges

1. Weekly Challenge

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a. Total Target

In a weekly total target challenge, teams work together to achieve a specific step goal within a week.

Set a target number of steps for each team to reach weekly. Tally up step counts at the end of each week to see which team comes out on top. This encourages consistent activity throughout the week as every step counts towards the team's success.

b. Daily Target and Frequency

Alternatively, a weekly challenge can involve daily step targets. Teams must meet or exceed a set number of daily steps to reach the weekly goal. This format encourages participants to maintain a steady pace throughout the week.

At the end of the week, the team with the highest cumulative steps wins. Add frequency options like having a challenge 3-5 days per week.

2. Streak Challenge

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The streak challenge is all about consistency. Participants commit to maintaining a daily step target or streak for a certain period of time without missing a single day. This builds a habit of daily physical activity and tests one's dedication to their fitness goals. By this, you can see who can maintain a daily step target for the longest period of time.

3. Race Challenge

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Race challenges add a competitive edge to step contests. In a race challenge, individuals or teams compete to see who can achieve the most steps within a specific time frame, usually from day to week.

These challenges bring out the competitive spirit and can be incredibly motivating. It also encourages sporadic bursts of activity.

4. E-Marathon

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For those seeking long-term fitness goals, the E-Marathon is an exciting option.

Participants strive to reach a milestone target within a defined period, just like completing a marathon. Whether it's a certain number of steps or a personal distance goal, the E-Marathon challenges individuals and teams to achieve the required milestones gradually.

Track everyone's steps and see whose combined effort can complete the full distance over a given timeframe.

5. Level Up Challenge

Participants earn badges for reaching step milestones. The person with the most badges at the end wins. Milestones might include 10k steps per day for a week, 100k steps per week, and 500k steps per month.

In the level-up challenge, participants can progress through different difficulty levels. The step target increases weekly, continually pushing participants to improve their fitness levels. This progressive challenge keeps things interesting and encourages ongoing participation.

6. Journey Challenge

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Each team logs steps to move along a virtual map. The team that makes it farthest along the journey in a given time wins.

A step contest is a fun way to foster fitness and teamwork. Mix up the challenge format to keep people engaged. Track progress and cheer each other on until the finish line.

The journey challenges add a touch of adventure to step contests. Participants embark on a virtual journey, tracking their steps as they "travel" to different destinations. Along the way, they learn about these places' culture, history, and geography. This challenge combines physical activity with a sense of exploration and learning.

So, lace up your sneakers, sync your fitness tracker, and embark on a journey to better health and fitness through step contests.

Step Challenge Ideas for Increasing Participation

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Most people with desk jobs from 9 to 5 will find increasing their daily step count challenging. Promoting walking at work with creative approaches may raise awareness of your walking contest and increase involvement.

The key to a successful workplace walking contest is encouraging as many employees to participate as possible. Think about how you'll boost and retain participation over the course of the event.

Following are some suggestions for encouraging high engagement in your office walking contest:

1. Promote walking meetings

Meetings that involve walking might be held in person or online. Whether your company holds daily or weekly meetings, urge your staff to make these times walking.

2. Encourage staff to use the stairs

Give participants advice on increasing their daily step counts, such as by taking the stairs or parking further away from their destination, whether it be the office, the grocery store, or another location.

3. Make walking routes using signs and maps

Set up walking routes and maps throughout the workplace or outside the building for the length of the challenge to keep participants aware of their step goals.

4. Use the same step-tracker

Employees can see the outcomes and methods their coworkers use when everyone uses the same app, which fosters a sense of community.

5. Make it inclusive

Make an effort to accommodate everyone by creating several tiers or offering a range of methods to engage because not all participants will have the same level of walking or running abilities. This ensures that everyone, not just the physically fittest, can participate.

6. Create teams with a variety of fitness abilities

Each squad should contain members of varied fitness levels to foster diversity and teamwork. This way, teammates can encourage and assist one another in a more encouraging environment.

7. Establish Realistic Team Goals

Each team should be given achievable step goals that they can work towards. Setting attainable goals boosts morale and promotes engagement.

8. Provide incentives and rewards

Teams should be rewarded for achieving a certain milestone or goal. Gift cards, fitness-related objects, or internal acknowledgment are all examples of rewards. Participants will be more motivated as a result of the added element of competitiveness.

9. Incorporate Competitive Play

Encourage amicable competition amongst teams by instituting leaderboards or weekly challenges. To generate interest and promote involvement, prominently display team standings and progress.

10. Communicate and Update Frequently

Update and communicate with the participants on a regular basis on the challenge, team development, and individual accomplishments. This can be accomplished through specialized internet platforms, team meetings, or email newsletters.

11. Promote accountability and teamwork

You can promote a sense of accountability and collaboration by encouraging team members to assist and inspire one another. Make an environment where people are at ease talking about their achievements, difficulties, and successes.

12. Include team-based activities

Plan group outings or activities that involve exercise, such as group fitness classes, treks, or group walks. Along with increasing step counts, these activities also improve team cohesion and togetherness.

13. Provide resources and tracking tools

Provide participants with easy-to-use step counters or smartphone apps so they can track their progress. To assist participants during the challenge, make available resources like walking route maps, fitness advice, and educational materials.

14. Acknowledge and Honor Milestones

Celebrate each team and individual victory throughout the challenge. Recognize accomplishments in public, highlight success stories, and offer encouraging feedback to increase motivation and involvement.

15. Get feedback and make changes

Participant input should be continuously gathered to understand their preferences and experiences. Use this feedback to make changes and improvements to ensure that upcoming challenges are tailored to their needs and interests.

To increase participation in a team step competition, remember that fostering a good and encouraging environment is essential. Utilizing these concepts will help motivate participants, foster teamwork, and make the challenge an enjoyable experience for all.

16. Motivating Participants and Creative Engagement

Creative engagement strategies can also boost participation. Consider launching a social media campaign where participants can share their progress or host a kick-off event to build excitement. The more fun challenges you can make, the more likely people will participate.

The Role of Technology in Office Step Challenges

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Walking is like the building block of a fitness journey. It is low on effort, easy on the body, and high on the return. However, keeping track of the steps for an effective walking session is important. This is where technology makes its play- it makes your walking contest more engaging and easier to manage.

Step contests became more popular with the launch of wearable devices and apps that log and track steps. With technology to back up and support these activities, a fitness journey can be accurately journaled.

Wearable devices and step challenge apps can automatically track steps, making it easy for participants to monitor their progress. Platforms like Vantage Fit can aggregate this data, create leaderboards, and even send out automated reminders. These features keep the enthusiasm to engage in fitness challenges high and drive encouragement.

However, one has to be mindful while choosing the right technology for your wellness challenge. This is highly dependent on your team's needs and resources. Factors like cost, usability, compatibility with different devices, interactive user interface, and multiple uses are key players in this decision.

For a quick reference, let's take a look at Vantage Fit. As a person motivated to stay active and tackle new fitness challenges, I wanted to infuse a similar sense of drive and motivation into the workforce.

Vantage Fit plans can hence be customized based on the size of your group. The platform is interactive and attractive, keeping in mind the factor of keeping the user engaged and hyped.

The Vantage Fit app logs the walks, runs, exercise, and calories and goes a step beyond to provide blogs, podcasts, tips, mindfulness, and meditation support. One-stop solution for every fitness need!

You might also like: Uprising Wellness Technology Trends

Measuring the Success of Your Office Step Challenge

Esteemed colleagues, promoting health and wellness among employees doesn't just end with launching the challenge itself. It is equally important to assess and determine how successful the step contests is.

When it comes to assessing the triumph of your office walking challenge, how do you measure the success?

The answer lies in a combination of quantitative and qualitative measures. It is quantitative measures like participation rates and average steps, as well as qualitative feedback from participants, that help gather valuable insights.

As we delve into measuring success, let's explore metrics that identify what worked, what didn't, and how future challenges could be improved.

A. Quantitative Measures

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1. Participation Rates

In my experience, active engagement in challenges is at the heart of its success. Keep an eye on the number of participants/ employees who signed up and actively took part. A higher participation rate signifies greater engagement and interest in the challenge and our collective commitment to wellness.

2. Average Steps

The strides we take reveal a lot. Tracking the steps by participants offers a tangible glimpse into the challenge's impact on physical activity levels. Using a corporate wellness app, compare participants' average steps before and during the challenge. A noticeable increase implies a positive change in behavior, ensuring a stride towards better health.

3. Top Performers

Recognizing the champions is essential. It is important to identify employees who did well in the challenge. Recognizing and rewarding motivates them to perform better, increase participation, encourage friendly competition, and showcase exemplary dedication that can inspire others.

4. Goal Attainment

Did our colleagues achieve their personal or team goals? Did they pursue better health and wellness?

A bigger percentage of corporate employees live predominantly inactive lives and are not really fit. The idea is to help them make the move from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one. Measuring these benchmarks offers information on how the project really impacted the participants.

The study ‘It’s Time to Switch’ by Godrej Interio’s Workplace and Ergonomics Research Cell states 64% of employees sit for more than nine hours a day at work.

5. Completion Rates

Consider tracking the percentage of participants who successfully completed the challenge. Completion rates reflect the commitment of individuals to the challenge and can give insights into the effectiveness of your chosen format and difficulty level.

B. Qualitative Measures

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1. Participant Perspectives

Listening to the voices of the participants and gathering their feedback is invaluable. Through their feedback, we gain insights and nuances that numbers might not reveal. Create post-challenge surveys to capture participants' experiences. Their insights will guide us in refining future challenges.

2. Success Stories

Actively encourage participants to share their success stories. The personal stories will inspire others with a positive impact. These stories offer a more human perspective on the benefits gained from increased physical activity.

3. Cultivation of Health Habits

The success of a wellness program lies in nurturing healthier habits. Understanding whether participants incorporated healthier practices into their daily routines is important. Their transformations illuminate the potential long-term impacts of wellness challenges.

4. Enhanced Health Outcomes

A step contest intends to spark more than just activity. Did the participants experience positive shifts in health markers, such as a balanced heart rate and blood pressure, or motivation from incentivized rewards? Understanding these outcomes substantiates the significance of our collective effort.

Apart from these steps to measure success, here are some other points to assess the success -

  • Analyze data for insights - Track activity spikes and participation dips in a challenge to spot trends.

  • Continuous Enhancement - Data scrutiny reveals enhancement opportunities. Lower participation? Build a popular challenge for next time.

Let's collectively craft step contest that embody our commitment to a healthier workplace.

Vantage Fit: Its features and how it can help create a successful step challenge

Vantage Fit was created keeping in mind the growing issues of physical inactivity and health problems among corporate employees. It allows employers to create a gamified health experience with incentives for the workforce.

It provides users with a Cue-Action-Reward user experience to enforce healthy habit formation wherein simple tasks are displayed to the users in exchange for tangible rewards. For example, walking for 30 minutes can earn you prize worth Rs 1000 or $75 Amazon Gift card.

Vantage Fit is a complete fitness tracking app with features such as -

  • Step count tracker
  • Heart rate monitor
  • Water intake tracker
  • Calorie counter
  • Activity distance tracker through GPS
  • Activity journal
  • Meal tracker
  • Seven-minute workout
  • Health and wellness tips
  • Fully customizable
  • Compatibility and synchronization with various wearable devices
  • Available across both Android and iOS
  • Create and customize competitions and challenges to engage employees.
  • Gamification with health scores, leaderboard, and other in-app features.
  • Reward employees with Vantage Points, which can be redeemed for gift cards and coupons.

Vantage Fit has all the features to help you create a virtual virtual step contest that will increase employee engagement and participation. It lets employers take full control of the creation process, giving them the freedom to modify the challenge as per their requirements.

Tracking

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Accuracy in terms of tracking step count is very important for a successful Step challenge. Without accurate tracking and representation of your employees’ activity data, they will lose interest in the challenge.

With Vantage Fit, your employees can accurately track the number of steps with its built-in step-tracking feature. The app also shows the distance they have covered while walking.

Gamification

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How fun is a Step contest if you can’t engage with other users, check their progress, and compare it with your own?

Vantage Fit allows you to gamify your challenges the way you want to. With a leaderboard, chat and notifications, and individual health scoring features, it is sure to increase engagement and motivate your employees to walk more.

Rewards

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Incentivizing a step contest is a sure-shot way to encourage employee participation and motivate them to adopt healthy habits.

Vantage Fit allows you to reward your employees upon completion of a challenge. You can reward them with fitness points, which can be redeemed as gift cards or coupons on a wide range of brands and outlets.

Your employees can also be rewarded with in-app trophies and badges for achieving certain milestones.

Competitions

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Take your step contest to the next level by creating a team or individual competition. Competitions are proven to encourage sportsmanship and increase employee engagement and participation.

Vantage Fit makes creating competitions easier than ever directly through the app. Create a “1000 steps a day for a month” or maybe “10000 steps a day for a week” challenge. The options are endless. You can even create awareness campaigns to educate your employees on the benefits of walking.

Also, you can modify and customize the competitions according to your requirements whenever you want.

Case Studies

Success Story 1: Increasing Engagement Through Step Challenges

Overview

Coach Pyry, a health coach and personal trainer, utilized Vantage Fit's app to run step contests for his corporate and online clients. He found the challenges led to a significant increase in client engagement and participation.

Challenge

Coach Pyry wanted to find new ways to motivate his clients to be more active and reach their fitness goals. Simply telling clients to walk more was not driving results. He needed a simple, engaging solution to get clients moving.

Results

  • Increased participation and engagement from clients in walking challenges
  • Clients gave positive feedback on the usability of the Vantage Circle app
  • Coach Pyry was able to easily configure challenges to suit client needs
  • The Vantage Fit team provided excellent support in setting up the app to Coach Pyry's preferences

Conclusion

Coach Pyry implemented Vantage Fit's step tracking app with his clients. The app enabled him to set up challenges among different client groups quickly. Clients found the app easy to use for tracking steps and viewing leaderboards.

Success Story 2: Fostering Workplace Connections Through Step Challenges

Overview

A company implemented Vantage Fit's step tracking app for workplace wellness initiatives. Employees participated in walking challenges, tracking their progress on the app.

Challenge

Elsa, a passionate advocate for workplace wellness, sought to promote physical activity and employee engagement within her organization. She aimed to leverage corporate walking challenges to create a healthier and more connected work environment.

Results

  • Walking among employees increased over the course of the challenge
  • Employees reported improved physical and mental well-being
  • Friendly competition motivated participants to walk more
  • Colleagues connected over the challenge, improving workplace relationships

Conclusion

The Vantage Fit step tracking app successfully increased employee walking and engagement. Features like the leaderboard and tracking capabilities made the challenge more motivating and helped connect colleagues. The initiative improved workplace wellness and relationships.

Final Words

Your step-a-thon should be only one element of a multifaceted, all-encompassing wellness program that promotes healthy habits from various perspectives.

Implementing a step-a-thon should be done with other initiatives, including fitness routines, culinary classes, weight-loss seminars, health screenings, smoking cessation programs, etc.

To create a positive environment of good health that permeates every level of your organization, there are countless opportunities to incorporate wellness challenges and other health initiatives with a full-service wellness program like Vantage Fit.

Vantage Fit allows you to create an easy and flawless virtual step-a-thon for your employees. A successful step-a-thon has lots to offer for both you as an employer and your employees. Completing the challenge will instill beneficial changes in your workforce, and they will adopt healthy habits daily.

Call to Action

Ready to start your own step count challenge? With Vantage Fit, a comprehensive wellness platform, you can easily set up and manage step count challenges.

Features like automatic step tracking, leaderboards, rewards, and an in-built framework for wellness challenges make it a tool designed to kickstart the employee well-being journey.

Schedule a demo and get your team involved to learn more about the benefits of office step count challenge. Sign up today and take the first step toward building a healthier workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the 10,000-step challenge?

The 10,000-step challenge is a popular steps challenge with the goal of walking at least 10,000 steps per day for a set number of days or weeks. 10,000 steps are approximately 5 miles.

2. How does a team step challenge at work?

To do a team step challenge at work, create teams and have participants track their individual steps using fitness trackers or apps. Set a time period for the challenge.

Teams can compete to see which team logs the highest average steps per member. Consider offering prizes to the winning team.

3. How long does a step challenge work?

Step challenges typically run from 1 week to 1 month. Have a defined start and end date. Longer challenges keep motivation high, but you can start with a shorter 7-14 day challenge.

4. How do you record a step challenge?

Participants can record steps using fitness trackers like Vantage Fit that automatically sync step data.

This article is written by Anjan Pathak, a Co-founder and CTO at Vantage Circle. He is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness, and actively participates in corporate culture growth. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated in the latest knowhows of Human Resource. For any related queries, contact editor@vantagecircle.com

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