Employee wellness programs are no longer optional if you want to build a thriving organization. Even pre-pandemic, support for your employee’s mental, physical, and social wellbeing was a rising demand that both current and future employees have come to expect from their employer. If you’re still in the process of implementing a full-scale wellness solution or have a small budget, initiatives like a step challenge are a simple way to promote holistic wellbeing in the workplace.

The Basics

Starting a step challenge is an easy way to introduce more physical activity into your employee’s daily life. In essence, the goal of a step challenge is to have employees compete to take a certain number of steps each day. Employees can compete against themselves, against one another, or as a team. No matter which format is picked, having a leaderboard will help you track progress. Rewards can be given to those who top the step challenge leaderboard or to everyone who participates, regardless of ranking. 

The Technology

The number of wearable devices worldwide is forecasted to reach more than one billion by 2022. While smartwatches have led to this escalation, your employees don’t have to have one to participate in a step challenge. A smartwatch, wearable tracking device, or a cell phone will suffice to run a step challenge effectively without investing in new devices for your employees. Employees can choose to use their wearable device or download an app to track their daily steps. If you’d prefer to skip tracking altogether, you can introduce group walking sessions before work, during the lunch hour, or after work and reward participation. 

The Tracking & Support

If you choose to implement a step challenge that officially tracks steps, you have two options. Your employees can self-report to an admin who keeps a spreadsheet of their progress or you can utilize a technology platform that does it for you. 

Automatic tracking is often a more appealing option than manual tracking and there are several options that work well. BetterYou, for example, automatically tracks participant’s physical health progress based on their step goals. If users get off track and aren’t meeting the goals they set, the app will send nudges to remind users of the goals they set. In the case of a step challenge, BetterYou users can invite others into a challenge by adding “buddies” in the app. Participants will then see each other’s progress and stay motivated by supporting one another to reach their goals in the step challenge. This automatic tracking is a win for employees and employers alike. 

The Impact

Walking is a universally accessible form of physical activity for most people, so step challenges engage a wide range of participants, from those who are generally sedentary to those who are highly active. Walking is a lifetime sport that invites people of all ages, races, and genders to participate equally. It invites camaraderie and connection across your organization. To be fully inclusive in your step challenge initiative, make sure to include options for those with limited mobility to provide full access for all. 

The health benefits of walking range from strengthening the heart to boosting immune function to mood and energy improvements. Healthier and happier employees lead to reduce healthcare costs for your organization and building community around health programs will lead to this kind of workplace. 

If you’d like to know more about how BetterYou can help your organization increase employee engagement, wellbeing, and performance by developing healthier habits with a step challenge, contact us today!