Employee Wellbeing

6 reasons why an office steps challenge may be bad for your team

6 reasons why you may not want to consider using an office to office steps challenge for your next event.
Toby Cannon
5 minutes

Screen time is up by nearly 80% since the start of the pandemic, so many companies are looking for ways to help improve the physical wellbeing of their employees.

The first thing that usually comes to mind here is an office to office virtual steps challenge! These sound like a great idea to motivate the team to get out and go for a walk.

Steps challenges have been around for decades, but the world has changed a lot in this time. Here are some reasons why you may not want to consider using an office to office steps challenge for your next event.

1. They aren’t inclusive

Most office to office steps challenges focus on exactly that, steps. You’re doing a step challenge to increase the wellbeing of your team, but what could be worse for the wellbeing and morale of your team than excluding certain people?

You may have people in your team who use a wheelchair, or maybe can’t walk as far due to another mobility issue. Step challenges can make people in this group feel excluded and undervalued.

2. It's hard to make them fair

To combat excluding people, you’ve decided to add other activity types, perhaps people can also cycle the route too. This causes more headaches when trying to keep a level playing field. If there’s a race between a walker and a cyclist, I know who I’m placing my bet on! Steps challenges can have issues with fairness when trying to include other activity types.

3. They only provide short term motivation

A one week step challenge is great, but what about the other 98% of the year? Helping employees build healthy, sustainable habits is far more valuable than encouraging more steps for one week each year.

4. You're rewarding people who are already fit

In your organisation you’ll have people who already run marathons every other weekend and you’ll also have people who find the daily dog walk tiring. By looking at just the number of steps, this will simply reward the people who are already very fit, leaving behind those who are on their fitness journey.

5. High overhead

Steps challenges sound like a very simple thing to run and are often seen as a quick win for improving employee physical wellbeing. If you choose to track progress manually, there will be one poor soul in charge of a spreadsheet, trying to keep track of everyone’s steps. This isn’t very fun for the individual, and isn’t fun for participants who are manually having to submit their steps. When you add up the amount of hours spent internally tracking this data, this actually turns into a very expensive event!

6. They exclude other activity types

Fitness is very personal to everyone. For those that love walking, a company steps challenge is ideal. However, not everyone does enjoy walking. These people may prefer to exercise in other ways such as swimming, rowing, cycling or even something more niche like korfball. By only allowing steps to count towards the challenge, you reduce the likelihood of these people participating in the challenge.

Summary

Whilst steps challenges seem like a quick and easy idea to improve employee wellbeing, there are a number of problems associated with them. Next time you’re thinking of planning an initiative to get employees moving, make sure you focus on a truly inclusive and hassle free approach.

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