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Step Challenges: 4 Tips for Starting a Corporate Step Challenge

January 5, 2023

Women walking, step challenge

January is all about new beginnings, clean slates, and fresh starts. So, what better time is there to excite your employees about getting moving with a step challenge?

Step challenges are a classic corporate wellness initiative, and for good reason. These challenges can easily be adapted, making them simple, inclusive, accessible, and effective for improving health.

If you’d like to start a step challenge at your company, here’s everything you need to know to get started.


What is a Step Challenge?

First, let’s clarify what a step challenge is. A corporate step challenge is oftentimes initiated as a part of an overall corporate wellness campaign. Wellness campaigns tend to touch on several areas of wellbeing, like mental wellness, social wellness, financial wellness, and physical wellness. Therefore, a step challenge is an initiative primarily aimed at improving employees’ physical health.

Step challenges can be set up for individuals or teams to participate and encourage employees to walk (or move) more than they were previously. Step challenges usually take place during a specific time period and have goals and targets set by the wellness coordinator.


Benefits of Corporate Step Challenges

There are plenty of reasons to get your team moving – reduced sick days, lower health care costs, increased productivity - but step challenges in particular can be a great option for workplace wellness. This is because walking:

  • Is free, making it accessible to all income levels
  • Is simple and doesn’t require any extra equipment or gym memberships
  • Can fit into busy schedules
  • Is adaptable to each person’s level of physical fitness
  • Can be modified to be accessible to all bodies with a step converter
  • Can be done in groups or alone
  • Is effective for improving health

Additionally, research has shown walking challenges to be widely beneficial, as well. A study done by the University of Edinburgh looked at the effectiveness of the Step Count Challenge, an annual, nationally delivered workplace step challenge. They found that a whopping 93% of participants experienced benefits.

The top 3 benefits reported were better physical health, increased team morale, and greater personal enjoyment. Furthermore, participants’ weekly activity levels increased by an average of nearly 2 hours for transportation purposes and nearly 1 hour for leisure.

So, while there are clear physical benefits from a corporate step challenge, there are also mental health and engagement benefits to consider as well.


How to Start a Workplace Step Challenge

Step challenges may be a simple concept, but they still require time, energy, and planning to ensure they run smoothly. To help you get started, we’ve outlined our best practices for starting a workplace step challenge.


1. Set Your Parameters

Setting parameters means establishing the framework your challenge will exist within. This includes establishing:

  • How long the challenge will last
  • Whether it’s an individual or teams-based challenge
  • What the goal is (i.e., 7,000 steps per day, per person)
  • Where information will be housed, like a wellness app
  • What will the winner(s) receive

Then, you’ll need to communicate this information to the team. Don’t forget to ensure remote and shift workers are included and able to participate as well – if your challenge isn’t inclusive, it isn’t ready to go live.


2. Generate Lasting Excitement

With any wellness initiative, participation is key. To help generate excitement and participation, there are several things you can do.


  • Surveys: One option is to send out another quick survey. Simply ask employees what they need in order to stick with the challenge. You may find common themes you hadn’t considered that would help boost participation.


  • Walking Routes: Consider setting up walking routes around the office for employees. You could set up color coordinated routes that go through different areas of the building. These can be used for quick breaks or walking meetings and can even encourage interdepartmental socializing.


  • Push Notifications: Consider sending out push notifications as reminders throughout each day to move. This can also help engage remote workers. Just be sure to allow people to opt out – you don’t want to pressure employees or become a nuisance.


  • Activity Converter: It’s important to ensure all team members feel they can participate. This means being accessible to people of all skill and ability levels, which is where activity converters come in handy. Activity converters allow you to honor any type of movement and are an integral aspect to the inclusivity of your program and to following ADA requirements.


  • Get Leadership Buy-In: Possibly the simplest way to generate excitement and participation is to encourage leadership buy-in. When employees see leaders taking the challenge seriously, they then feel safe trying walking meetings or taking quick walking breaks.


3. Share Progress Reports

Another great way to keep your step challenge thriving is by sharing progress with the whole company. This can help build camaraderie and friendly competition, but it also shows that wellness is something the company itself truly values.

There are a few ways to highlight progress reports. While you can show the entire leaderboard, you may want to avoid doing so if your challenge isn’t team-based. Instead, you may want to show only the top 3-10 people. This helps stimulate competition without embarrassing or discouraging anyone who may be early in their fitness journey.

Also consider sharing different types of progress. Acknowledge and celebrate wins like “most improved,” “most consistent,” “most variety in activities tracked.”


4. Offer Worthwhile Rewards

While you will likely have people who will participate in a step challenge regardless of a reward, you will have those who are motivated by a prize. Consider what type of prize you’ll offer, as well as your prize structure.

This is to say, will there be a first, second, and third place prize? Or will you give a prize for most improved or best team name? Maybe consider drawing a random winner out of all the participants to help encourage participation and effort. There are all kinds of awards to offer.

Just be sure your prize is something your employees value. This could be extra PTO day(s), a gym membership, exercise equipment, or extra points to redeem on a social recognition platform – the options are endless.

Lastly, be sure to announce winners to the whole company. Take a moment to celebrate the winners, as well as everyone who participated. After all, any step towards better wellness is worth celebrating.


Related: Wellness Program Participation: 5 Secrets to Boosting Engagement


Next Steps

Step challenges are a simple, accessible, and effective way to promote workplace wellness. If you’re interested in running your own step challenge, get started with Terryberry’s Walker Tracker app today.

With Terryberry, we make it easy to launch wellness challenges that keep employees engaged and motivated. Our comprehensive app allows employees to track fitness, mood, sleep, nutrition, mindfulness, and other metrics. Employees can also connect via the platform to encourage each other through message boards.

As an administrator, you’re provided with expert content and communication templates, detailed challenge results, and dedicated customer support. Contact us today to learn more!