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How To Set Up A Successful Step Challenge At Work?

14 min read
Last Updated on 18 April, 2024

Remember that buzz of energy after a brisk walk? Imagine bringing that vibe into enhancing employee health in the workplace. We're not just discussing a temporary fix for the dreaded 3 p.m. slump. We're talking about revolutionizing workplace wellness through the power of step challenges!

Walking challenges do more than encourage physical activity; they transform it into a fun, team-building adventure. So, ready to step up? Let's get into how to bring this energetic pulse to your office.

This blog aims to guide you through manually creating a step challenge, highlighting the potential obstacles, and subsequently introducing technological solutions to streamline the process.

What is a Step Challenge?


A step challenge is an activity where individuals track their daily steps from walking or running. The essence of the challenge is a fun, goal-oriented way to blend healthy living with a dash of friendly competition in the workplace. It's a collective stride towards an active lifestyle.

Step challenges at work are organized events that encourage employees to log their daily step counts, either individually or in teams. The participant or team with the highest step count by the end wins a prize set by the company.

A well-designed challenge can cultivate an amazing workplace culture of mutual support, friendly rivalry, and shared commitment to personal wellness.

What are the Benefits of Workplace Step Challenges?


Kickstarting a step challenge at your workplace is like hitting the refresh button on your office culture. Here’s the lowdown on why it’s a brilliant idea:

1. Promote a Culture of Goal Setting and Achievement

What it does: Transform lofty ambitions into daily wins.

Why it matters: It's like building a bridge between dreaming big and making it happen, one step at a time.

2. Boost Morale & Engagement

What it does: Injects fun, sparking lively vibes around the office.

Why it matters: Happy employees are the secret sauce to a buzzing workplace.

3. Improves Physical and Mental Health

What it does: It gets everyone moving, reduces stress, and brightens moods.

Why it matters: Because a fit team is a powerhouse team. Regular walks can cut down blues by 20-30%, a fact backed by the big guns at the CDC and WHO.

4. Fosters Teamwork

What it does: Turns colleagues into teammates on a mission.

Why it matters: Great things happen when we pull together. Plus, it’s a blast.

5. Nurtures Healthy Habits Among Employees

What it does: Makes good health a daily deal, beyond the challenge.

Why it matters: Stick with it, and you're looking at a lifetime of benefits. WHO says regular activity can knock down chronic disease risks by half.

6. Supports Weight Management

What it does: Encourages healthy habits with a bit of daily shuffle.

Why it matters: It’s the nudge we sometimes need to keep the scale happy, steering clear of extra pounds.

How to Set Up Your Office Step Challenge?

Now that you're fired up about the potential benefits, it's time to lay out the blueprint for implementing an engaging, well-structured workplace step challenge:

1. Define Clear Goals and Challenge Duration

It's crucial to map out your objectives and establish a clear timeframe for the challenge. Determine what specific outcomes you want to achieve through the initiative. Whether that's boosting physical activity levels, improving team cohesion, or all the above.

Then, decide on a start and end date that allows adequate time for participants to build healthy habits.

2. Determine Format: Individual vs. Team Challenge

Will this be an individual competition to crown the ultimate step king or queen? Or does a collaborative team format better align with your workplace culture and goals? There are compelling benefits to each approach:

  • Individual Challenges

Individual challenges foster a sense of personal accountability. It can be incredibly motivating for folks driven by self-competition and achievement. However, they inherently place more emphasis on singular efforts.

  • Team-Based Challenges

Conversely, team-based challenges harness the power of social support, team bonding and accountability among colleagues. This can be particularly engaging for remote employees looking to build bonds with their distributed teammates.

There's no definitively superior approach; the ideal format depends on your organization's dynamics and the specific goals you've outlined.

With either format, there's a potential for data entry errors. Keeping accurate track of individual or team step counts manually increases the likelihood of mistakes. This can affect the challenge's integrity.

3. Choose Your Step Tracking Solution

In today's tech-saturated world, there are numerous options for participants to accurately log their daily step counts. Two primary avenues tend to be:

  • Wearable devices and exercise trackers: Gadgets like Fitbits, Apple Watches, and other wearable tech with built-in pedometers.

  • Smartphone apps and software: Many phones come pre-installed with health apps that track steps, or employees can download stand-alone step counter apps.

Before launching your challenge, survey employees to gauge their preferences and tech capabilities. You'll likely encounter a mix of people already invested in wearable devices, and others who prefer the smartphone/app approach. Accommodating both paths to participation will ensure an accessible, inclusive experience for all.

Manual challenges lack the automated reminders and real-time tracking features of digital solutions. This makes it harder to keep participants engaged and informed about their progress.

4. Organize Participation and Reporting

Once you've determined the challenge parameters, outline specific guidelines detailing:

  • How participants will log and report their step counts (e.g. shared spreadsheet, google form, email to administrators or a common communication channel)

  • The cadence for progress updates (perhaps a weekly roundup)

Free 30 Day - Step Challenge Tracker

Check our free step challenge tracker, meticulously designed to guide you towards achieving your companies step goals. Click the link below -

The manual management of participation and reporting can be particularly time-consuming, as it requires constant updates and oversight to maintain accuracy.

5. Data Aggregation and Leaderboard Creation

Consolidate the data collected from participants to create a leaderboard that tracks individual or team progress. This will add a competitive element to the challenge and motivate participants to stay active.

The process is susceptible to data entry errors, which can lead to inaccuracies in leaderboard standings. This can undermine the competition's fairness.

6. Organizing Engaging Communications

Keep participants engaged throughout the challenge by providing regular updates to encourage participation. Such as:

  • Current individual/team leaderboard standings
  • Upcoming thematic mini-challenges or goals
  • Motivational content with step-tracking tips
  • Shoutouts to participants hitting major milestones
  • Friendly nudges to keep everyone engaged

You can disperse this content via existing workplace communication channels like email, messaging platforms, bulletin board updates and team meetings.

Free Communication Template

To get you started, we have offered you (FREE) tools to help you enhance communications, along with the most crucial elements of good communication for your company's step challenge. Click the link below-

The approach may result in limited features compared to automated systems, potentially affecting the frequency and effectiveness of communication.

7. Incentivize with Creative Rewards

A strategic rewards system can provide an extra jolt of encouragement for your colleagues. Design an assortment of achievable incentives and prizes recognizing incremental achievements over the challenge. These could include:

  • Company swag and branded gear
  • Gift cards to popular retailers, restaurants or experiences
  • Wellness rewards like race entries or fitness subscriptions
  • Additional time off or flexibility to integrate movement breaks
  • Public shoutouts or kudos highlighting top performers

Get creative and survey participants to determine what rewards would truly inspire them to keep those feet moving!

The potential for cheating is a significant concern in manual step challenges. Without verifiable data, ensuring fairness and integrity in rewarding participants becomes challenging.

Leveraging Technology to Streamline Your Challenge


Feeling overwhelmed by all the logistics of hosting a step challenge on top of existing responsibilities? We hear you – that's a lot of data-wrangling and manual effort. Thankfully, cutting-edge workplace wellness platforms powered by AI can minimize those administrative pains.

Apps like Vantage Fit seamlessly centralize all the tracking, engagement, and accuracy capabilities you need to uplevel your walking challenge experience:

1. Step Counting Synced to Devices


Vantage Fit effortlessly syncs with popular wearables like Fitbit and Apple Watch, pulling in accurate daily step counts without any self-reporting required. It’s also compatible with smartphone pedometer apps for added accessibility.

2. Automated Reminders and Engagement Boosters


Maintain sky-high participation levels through Vantage Fit's automated reminders, progress updates, and community-building features like:

  • Celebratory messages when users hit milestones
  • Motivational push notifications to get steps in
  • Gamified badges and achievement stickers
  • Opportunities for social sharing and step-tracking competitions

In other words: no more manual messaging required to rally the troops! The app keeps everyone looped in and energized.

3. Real-Time Leaderboard Tracking


One of the most powerful drivers of a step challenge is the visibility into progress and rankings. With Vantage Fit, automated leaderboards update in real-time, so participants can instantly see where they stack up against colleagues. You can even filter views by specified teams or subgroups to maximize interdepartmental rapport and rivalry.

4. Customizable Dashboard Viewing


Within the intuitive admin dashboard, you can effortlessly view analytics that matter most to your organization. Instantly analyze metrics like average daily step counts, leaderboard trends over time, and top performing individuals or teams. These insights shed light on achievement towards your pre-defined goals and can inform future programming.

5. Verification and Anti-Cheating Measures

Vfit Anti-Cheating Measures

Unfortunately, the spirit of friendly competition can occasionally inspire a few rogue athletes to fudge their step numbers. See how Wikihow has mentioned 10 Genius Ways to Cheat a Step Counter on a Phone (No Walking Required).

But have no fear – Vantage Fit's algorithms proactively detect and flag abnormally high or suspicious step entries. This preserves the integrity of your challenge while allowing you to investigate any questionable activities.

Types of Step Challenges

Variety is the Spice. While the core concept of tallying daily steps provides a solid foundation, having multiple challenge formats to choose from can prevent monotony and keep employees engaged over time. That's why Vantage Fit offers several innovative step challenge types:

1. Weekly Challenge

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work - John C. Maxwell


a. Total Target

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

This format encourages participants to maintain a steady pace throughout the week.

2. Streak Challenge

Challenge Your Limits - Tony Robbins


The streak challenge is all about consistency. Participants commit to maintaining a daily step target or streak for a certain period without missing a single day. By this, you can see who can maintain a daily step target for the longest time.

This challenge builds consistent exercise habits and tests one's dedication to their fitness goals.

3. Race Challenge

Competition helps people figure it out - Brian McBride


Race challenges pit individuals or teams against each other to see who can log the most steps within a set timeframe. It's a fun way to get that heart pumping and unleash your competitive spirit!

This challenge fosters a competitive atmosphere that drives participants to engage in intense activity bursts.

4. E-Marathon

Run hard when it’s hard to run – Pavvo


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

All progress takes place outside the comfort zone – Michael John Bobak


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.

The step target increases weekly, and participants can progress through different difficulty levels.

This pushes individuals to continuously elevate their physical activity and vie for the highest accolade.

6. Journey Challenge

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. - Lao Tzu


The journey challenge adds a touch of adventure to step contests. Each team logs steps to move along a virtual map. The team that makes it farthest along the journey wins.

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.

How to Get More Steps at Work?

  • Walking Meetings: Instead of sitting, have meetings on the go. Walk and talk.
  • Use the Stairs: Skip the elevator. Take the stairs for extra steps.
  • Walking Breaks: Take short walks throughout the day. It's refreshing and adds steps.
  • Park Farther Away: Choose parking spots further from the entrance.
  • Walk During Lunch: Use part of your lunch break for a brisk walk.

Step Challenge Ideas to Increase Participation


While step counting and competition serve as the backbone, your walking challenge doesn't have to be a basic. In fact, integrating creative, interactive elements can elevate the experience into something employees eagerly anticipate.

Spur colleagues to stride towards the finish line (and their personal wellness goals) by incorporating some of these rousing enhancements:

1. The "Walk Somewhere" Component

Pick a place, any place. Maybe it's Paris, the Grand Canyon, or just the next town over. Set the distance in steps and challenge everyone to "walk" there together. It's a virtual trip with real benefits.

2. Add a Charitable Element

Walk for a cause. Set company-wide step goals, and when you hit them, donate to a chosen charity. It's good for the heart, in more ways than one.

3. Emphasize the Leaderboard

Foster competition with a leaderboard. Use a shared spreadsheet or an app like Vantage Fit to track and display daily step counts and rankings. This lights a motivational fire like seeing yourself rise through the ranks!

4. Offer Daily Prizes


Who says no to prizes? While leaderboard glory and bragging rights provide a certain cache, rewards can spice up the action. Offer wellness incentives like gift cards, extra vacation days, or flexible hours. Fresh incentives keep engagement high even after the challenge ends.

5. Incorporate Photo Sharing


Boost engagement by having participants share photos or sweaty selfies during their walks. A shared photo-sharing platform during the challenge can enhance connection and fun.

6. Consider Inclusive Alternatives

Not all employees will be able to take part in a walking challenge due to factors like physical limitations or medical conditions. However, you can easily uphold an inclusive team spirit by offering supplemental activities focused on:

  • Building healthy habits through nutrition or hydration goals.
  • Incorporating stress management, yoga and mindfulness practices.
  • Social media detox or screen time reduction targets.

7. Mixed Fitness Teams

Create teams with varied fitness levels to encourage inclusivity and mutual support. This helps everyone feel involved and motivated.

8. Friendly Competition and Regular Updates

Use weekly challenges and visible leaderboards to spark competition. Keep everyone informed with regular updates about progress and achievements.

9. Team Activities and Tracking Tools

Organize group walks or fitness classes and provide step tracking tools or step challenge apps. This supports step counting and strengthens team bonds.

10. Celebrate Milestones and Seek Feedback


Every milestone, big or small, deserves a shoutout. Celebrate milestones and gather participant feedback. This helps tailor future challenges to participant preferences and keeps the program dynamic and engaging.

Remember, the best step challenge is the one that gets everyone excited to participate. Mix it up, keep it fun, and let the steps (and stories) unfold.

Measuring the Success of Your Office Step Challenge


Want to know if your office step challenge was a hit? Here’s the scoop without the fluff. Success isn’t just about launching it; it’s about what happens after. Think of it like a party. You don’t just send out invites; you got to make sure everyone has a good time.

So, how do you measure a good time, or in our case, success? It's simple: we look at the numbers and what people say.

The Numbers Game

First up, we've got our hard facts. These are the things we can measure straight up.

  • Participation Rates: How many jumped in? More people joining means we've got a winning vibe going.
  • Average Steps: Are we actually moving more? A bump in those daily step counts means we're on the right track.
  • Top Performers and Goal Hitters: Shout out to our step stars and everyone crushing their goals. It's about celebrating big moves and personal wins.
  • Completion Rates: Finishing strong counts. It tells us if the challenge was the right mix of fun and doable.

The Participant’s Say

Then, there's the gold we dig up by just listening.

  • Feedback: What did everyone think? This is where we learn what rocked and what didn’t.
  • Success Stories: These are the tales that get everyone fired up to lace up.
  • New Habits: Are we sticking to healthier moves beyond the challenge? That's the real win.
  • Health Wins: Any positive shifts in how we feel or those health stats we keep an eye on? That’s the big goal.

Success Stories


A Word from Us

Remember, a workplace step challenge represents merely one piece of the holistic wellness puzzle. But it's an engaging, accessible first step towards kickstarting healthier habits and reshaping your company's culture.

Leveraging tools like Vantage Fit's challenge platform can streamline your walking initiatives with automated tracking, engagement boosters, and robust administrative capabilities. But the true power emerges from shared purpose and denial of a sedentary lifestyle that a step challenge spark.

So, dust off those sneakers and let's get stepping towards a rejuvenated, unstoppable workforce!

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

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