How to set up an in-house Activity Challenge

Workplace wellbeing initiative to encourage more activity in the workplace.

One of the biggest challenges we face when trying to get more active is that for many of us most of our day is spent sitting down.

Regular exercise is an important part of keeping healthy, but we should also be paying attention to how many hours we spend in our chairs.

Injecting short periods of movement to an otherwise sedentary day can boost productivity, concentration and creativity, as well as lifting mood and potentially impacting social connection.

Activity Challenges, where employees are split into teams, track their daily steps and then compare results at the end of the week are a great way to encourage more activity in a fun way.

Setting up an Activity Challenge can be really straight forward, as most people are now wearing or carrying a tracking device.

Wearables such as Fitbits and Garmins, or even smart phones track the number of steps taken each day along with a range of other activity data.

 

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How to set up an in-house Activity Challenge

Workplace wellbeing initiative to encourage more activity in the workplace.

One of the biggest challenges we face when trying to get more active is that for many of us most of our day is spent sitting down.

Regular exercise is an important part of keeping healthy, but we should also be paying attention to how many hours we spend in our chairs.

Injecting short periods of movement to an otherwise sedentary day can boost productivity, concentration and creativity, as well as lifting mood and potentially impacting social connection.

Activity Challenges, where employees are split into teams, track their daily steps and then compare results at the end of the week are a great way to encourage more activity in a fun way.

Setting up an Activity Challenge can be really straight forward, as most people are now wearing or carrying a tracking device.

Wearables such as Fitbits and Garmins, or even smart phones track the number of steps taken each day along with a range of other activity data.

The Template

This Template outlines some of the steps you can take (no pun intended!) to launch and sustain a Activity Challenge.

1) Devices

The easiest way to launch an Activity Challenge is to invite anybody who already owns a device or smartphone app to take part.

If you’re going ‘all in’ with this initiative you may decide to bulk buy and provide devices to your team, or give them a discount so they can purchase their own online.

It’s possible to do this through the Fitbit website, where a company contribution is made towards the price of a device.

For example, £50 would get somebody a ‘Zip’, or they could use the contribution to reduce the price of one of their more expensive models. 

https://www.fitbit.com/uk/product/corporate-solutions

If you think you are likely to get over 50 people engaged in the Challenge, Fitbit will set you up with your own Corporate Dashboard, which make logging and organising results even easier.

2) Create teams

Teams with between 4 and 7 people work best. Fewer than 4 and it’s not ‘teamy’ enough, and more than 8 you begin to lose the impact that each member will have on the weekly scores.

Teams could be by department, location, or random.

How you split your teams up will depend on how your organisation is structured. Some jobs will naturally be more active than others, so take this into consideration when you’re deciding on them!

Once you have your teams, create a Google Doc that everybody can access, a page on the Intranet or a noticeboard with all the team names and individual members.

3) Communication

Communication is key to get enough people engaged in the Challenge. You need at least 2 teams to get started, and can easily add in more teams as interest grows.

Set a start date that is at least 2 weeks away, and then start by speaking to those people who already wear trackers about getting involved.

Put up posters in the office, a page on the Intranet and email everybody with the details of how they can get involved.

4) Recording results

The simplest way to run the Activity Challenge is to have one person with the responsibility of collecting together the results from each of the teams once a week.

Depending on numbers taking part, this could be with everybody reporting in directly, or having a team captain who gathers team data and sends that on to the organiser.

Fitbits and most other devices will have apps that record the daily and weekly totals, so a screenshot of the totals is a good way to ‘prove’ the numbers – especially important if things start to get competitive!

Team totals are then put up on the board / Google Doc / Intranet page each week.

5) Incentives

Having a monthly prize can act as an incentive for people to remain engaged, and reward those who have been most active.

Ideally, prizes should be in line with what the message of the Activity Challenge.

For example, fruit baskets, spa days, vouchers for fitness equipment etc.

6) Relaunching and maintaining momentum

One thing that is important is to regularly re-inject momentum into the Activity Challenge.

After the initial buzz it’s common for the engagement to dip, so you can counter this by ‘relaunching’ every 6 weeks.

Challenges with a definite start and end point are more successful than ongoing programs. 

Run the Challenge itself for 4 weeks, then use the next fortnight to build the anticipation for the next Challenge.

7) Support with congruent messaging

As you launch the Challenge, help people get more steps in during the day by giving them suggestions for how they can do this.

Email participants with motivational messages containing practical advice, or put up posters with top tips.

Here area 5 suggestions to start things off

1) Set an alarm for every 60 minutes and go for a 5 minute walk

2) Walk for 30 minutes at lunch break

3) Use bathroom facilities on a different floor

4) Schedule ‘walking meetings’

5) Stand up and move around when you are on the phone

Summary

Activity Challenges can be fun ways to build teamwork and get people in your organisation more active.

It doesn’t have to be company-wide, and even a small scale Challenge has the potential to positively effect the wellbeing of those taking part.