How to conduct a successful corporate health challenge

A Case Study of Health outcomes of an innovative corporate  health challenge


An innovative corporate health challenge conducted by Health Breaks across four organisations during COVID-19 stage 4 lockdowns in Melbourne achieved remarkable health outcomes across many variables. While the intention was to increase physical activity rates in work-from-home employees through increasing step count and improving organisational engagement and cohesion, the challenge was successful in positively impacting health on an holistic level.

“I was definitely more conscious of how many steps I was doing and, my fruit and veg intake. It made me want to do more as to not let the team down! Also, the feeling across the company has been very positive. “

Most corporate step challenges have participants syncing fitness devices or uploading step count data manually. Many step challenges are team based and promote a sense of healthy competition.

The Health Breaks Virtual Hike challenge took participants on a virtual journey through the El Camino trail in Spain and created a true escape from the hardships of lockdown. Supported by the Health Breaks platform, a curated Playlist of ‘Pods’ facilitated the broader health outcomes and created an inclusive environment to suit diverse interestes, skills annd capabilities of participants.¬†

Over the four week challenge, the Playlist was updated weekly to address the four pillars of health: Mind, Body, Food and Social. Resources included healthy Mediterranean recipes highlighting foods of the regions travelled, low, moderate and high intensity exercise routines, breathing and meditation exercises and cultural information related to the villages and towns along the route. Participants were encourged to upload and share “Step Stories” and the daily leaderboard and map kept motivation high.

So, what are the 5 essential ingredients that made this challenge successful?

1. A sense of fun and adventure

Challenges need to be fun, they can’t feel like work. Promote a sense of fun through encouraging humorous team and participant names and theme based activities like dress-up team virtual gatherings. For instance, Health Breaks conducted weekly Live Health Breaks where participants were invited to dress in Spanish theme.

2. Use of ‘team captains’ 

Engaging team captains spreads the load. These employees become your touch points for disseminating challenge information and maintaing team motivation.

3. Promotion of teamwork

Creating teams leads to commitment of participants. Team members become accountability partners to participants who ‘don’t want to let their team down’.

4. Daily feedback

Utlilising a route map based on an interesting and desirable destination creates a sense of adventure but also graphically represents team progress. Daily leaderboards inspire inter-team competition and instantly rewards participants for their ongoing efforts.

5. Holistic approach

Not all participants will be motivated by step count. Offering alternative activities that can be used as steps, such as stretching, healthy cooking, breathing and mindfulness activities increases inclusivity across diverse workforces. Also accomodating alternative forms of exercise, such as cycling, boxing, group exercise classes and personal training will also increase acceptance and adherence to the challenge.

Author: Kristin McMaster, Director, Health Breaks – encouraging employees to take a break for their health daily