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Office employees spend an estimated 65-75% of their workday sitting, which can affect health and well-being, productivity, and overall quality of life. Workplace step challenges are an increasingly popular way to encourage employee well-being at work. Organizations that promote ways to optimize workplace health and wellness can benefit from increased productivity and reduced costs due to absenteeism and healthcare expenses.
This guide to how to set up a step challenge at work will cover some of the basic rules every challenge should establish as well as tips for maintaining participant motivation during the competition. We’ll also offer some advice on how to encourage more participation so your organization can run a fun and fruitful step challenge.
What Is a Workplace Step Challenge?
Company step challenges are organized events within the organization that ask participating employees to track the number of steps they walk or run each day. Employees can either track their steps individually or as a team. The person or team with the most steps at the end of the challenge period wins a predetermined prize awarded by the company.
While a workplace step challenge fosters friendly competition among co-workers, it also results in increased workplace well-being and engagement that benefits not just the employees, but the organization as a whole.
Some benefits of a workplace walking challenge include:
- Promotes a culture of goal-setting and achievement
- Builds teamwork and group cooperation
- Encourages healthy habits among employees
- Results in increased productivity and reduced labor costs
Healthy employees and happier and more productive, and regular step challenges help organizations foster an environment of well-being and engagement.
Tips for Running a Company Step Challenge
Running a step challenge takes a bit of work, but planning ahead and being prepared can ensure it goes smoothly.
Below are some tips on how to run a successful company step challenge that’s fun, engaging, and actually achieves its goal, which is helping your employees be healthy and active.
1. Establish Step Challenge Rules
When devising a steps challenge at work, the first thing to do is establish rules for participation. The rules should be simple and straightforward with as few as possible to encourage fun and competition.
Some step challenge rules you might set include:
- How long the challenge lasts—typically one to two months
- Whether it’s an individual or team steps challenge
- What the goal for the challenge is, such as an average of 10,000 steps per day
- How to measure steps, such as using a smartphone app or a fitness device
When it comes to your step challenge rules, keep in mind that certain modifications may need to be made as unforeseen circumstances arise. Staying flexible is key to ensuring everyone has fun.
2. Increase Step Challenge Motivation
Another important aspect of organizing a company step challenge is how you’ll maintain motivation over the course of the event. As with any challenge, participants can expect to go through periods of high engagement to participate followed by low motivation.
Having daily or weekly communications and reminders can help employees maintain their level of participation. Additionally, having a regular update on current standings can help keep the fun alive. If conducting a team step challenge, be sure to select team leaders who are committed to keeping their teammates active in the challenge.
3. Encourage Regular Self-Reporting
Whether you’re conducting an individual or team step challenge, personal accountability is key to high, long-term engagement. Encourage each participant to individually keep track of their steps, set a personal goal, and continue to self-report regularly.
Building healthy habits requires ongoing tracking so that it builds feedback that employees can act on. When participants can see how their average step count has increased or decreased, it allows them to respond accordingly.
4. Provide Exciting Rewards
Finally, step challenge organizers should spend plenty of time considering which type of reward to hand out at the end of the challenge. Many companies do step challenges as a fundraiser for charity, while others do it to reward their employees with something of monetary or personal value.
Another consideration is the reward structure. Will there be a first-place reward for the person or team with the most steps? Will you provide runner-up and third-place prizes to those who came close? You might even offer the winning team captain a special reward for their extra dedication to the challenge.
Step Challenge Ideas for Increasing Participation
A successful workplace step challenge hinges on maximizing participation among employees. As part of organizing your company step challenge, consider how you'll increase and maintain participation throughout the duration of the event.
Here are some ideas for helping promote high engagement in your workplace step challenge:
- Encourage walking meetings: Walking meetings can be done in person or virtually. Whether your workplace has daily or weekly meetings, encourage employees to transform these scheduled times into walkable ones.
- Suggest employees take the stairs: Provide participants with tips and tricks for how to get in more steps each day, such as taking the stairs or parking farther away from the office, the grocery store, or wherever they happen to be.
- Create walking paths with signs and maps: For the duration of the challenge, have walking routes and maps set up around the office or outdoors around the building to keep the step challenge top-of-mind among participants.
- Use the same step counting app: When each participant uses the same app, it creates a sense of community where employees can see their co-workers' results and how they’re achieving them.
- Accommodate varying abilities: Since not all participants will have the same level of walking or running ability, be sure to accommodate everyone by setting different tiers or providing a variety of ways to participate. This ensures everyone can participate, not just those who are most physically able.
Maximize Workplace Wellness With a Company Step Challenge
Step challenges are a proven way to increase workplace well-being. While there are many different ways to run a company step challenge, the goal is the same—fostering a sense of workplace engagement while promoting healthy lifestyle habits that benefit employees across the board.
No matter how you run your workplace step challenge, the key is to make it your own. With Wellics' employee wellness platform, you can launch your own workplace wellness challenges, set custom metrics, and watch the trend. Step-tracking is a core metric tracked in each employee's wellness journey. With a wide range of wearable device integrations, the Wellics platform syncs with employee fitness trackers, logging daily step counts to make workplace step challenges easy and streamlined.
Discover these capabilities and more by touring the Wellics employee wellness platform today.
Originally published March 15, 2022 - 11:14 AM, updated November 21, 2023