For almost 4 years at Happy Marketer, I have never been successful in initiating a wellness challenge amongst the #HappyTribe. The only wellness-related activity that we had accomplished together as a company was when 5 of us ran a sundown marathon 3 years ago.
Up until 3 months ago, there was no drive to make a change. But you know the quote that says, “Sometimes, you need bad things to happen to inspire you to change and grow.” That is exactly what happened with the #HappyTribe. A flu virus hit the Singapore office and almost everyone suffered and was constantly coughing, was down with fever, and did not have the energy to work. This got me thinking and I realized that I don’t fall sick that often (touchwood) because I am physically more active than my younger colleagues and could correlate this phenomenon to an article that I had recently read about how employees who are physically active take 27% fewer sick days off.
That was when the idea of doing a step challenge was born, where we wanted to motivate the #HappyTribe members to start exercising and getting healthier. And since we are celebrating our 10th year anniversary, #HMX, our Managing Partner, Prantik creatively named it the #HealthMaXChallenge.
But you may ask, why did I initiate an individual step challenge as opposed to organizing a collective group event? From my past experience, not only is it difficult to motivate people to participate in physical activities but also a rather painful task to coordinate everyone's schedules! What we wanted is something simple, easy, accessible to all employees of varying fitness levels, and most importantly an activity that one can pursue at their own time and pace. The more I thought about it, I realized that walking & clocking steps seemed to be the solution to the problem. With multiple ways to track one's daily steps and the prevalence of digital wearables, we decided to use the Pacers mobile app to monitor & track everyone's daily step count - talk about data-driven digital initiatives;)
To make the challenge more creative and innovative, I came up with different ideas for the challenges each month. In February, we had a team challenge in trios and an individual challenge where the competition got fierce towards the end between Pansy, our Senior Designer from Bangalore office and Anjana, an SEO Intern from the Singapore office. Both of them ran till the very last second and it was a very close contest between the two. In the end, Anjana won the battle by 2,500 steps and she also swept off the team challenge and shared the win for the social media challenge together with Lydia, our SEO Associate Consultant from the Singapore office. Month 1 of the #HealthMaxChallenge had been received very well and the #HappyTribe was actively participating in it and collectively we clocked 6,589,340 steps as a team.
For the months of March and April, we invited our spouses or partners to participate in a couple's challenge. Jiajun, our Digital Strategy Associate Consultant grabbed the prize for March together with his girlfriend Charmain while Kashmira, our Client Strategy Director took away the title of ‘Most Creative Social Post’ for March.
In April, in addition to the usual steps challenge, 16 of us from the Singapore office have signed up for the upcoming Income Eco Run, a unique combination of a running event which encourages people to be eco-friendly. Through this event, which has been sponsored by our beloved client Income (for whom we just won the Most Effective Use of CRM & Loyalty award at the recent MARKies Awards), we hope to end the Easter month with a collective output of 20 Million Steps!
In May, which is the last and final month of the #HealthMaXChallenge, the challenge will involve a team bonding element where every team will consist of 1 #HappyTribe member from the different cities i.e. 1 from Singapore, 1 from Bangalore, 1 from Mumbai and 1 from Kolkata. We hope that apart from helping people to be more active, this team activity will encourage people from our different cities to bond as they set out to achieve a common goal.
The #HealthMaXChallenge is not just about the well-being of our tribe but also a chance for us to do good and send out a positive message to the world about the importance of living an active, sustainable & impactful life. Apart from participating in the Income EcoRun, our partners have committed to contribute S$1 for every 10,000 steps that we clock, to the Income Bursary that would help contribute to a child's education in Singapore. I am glad that we have been able to orchestrate impact on multiple fronts through this initiative by making the #HappyTribe healthier & active; fostering a bond amongst them across the different offices; creating awareness about sustainability and contributing to a child's future :)
While it seems all hunky dory today, as with any project, we faced a lot of challenges at the outset. Initially, the uptake was quite poor but as time went by, we experimented by creating mini competitions internally and that did the trick along with some prizes & incentives! Apart from this, for people who didn't have Fitbit or a digital watch, they had to carry their phones everywhere to ensure that their steps were clocked and this meant being plugged in & more screentime. Any ideas on how could we circumvent this in the future?
But there were plenty of positives on the other hand - people started walking everywhere - walking back home, walking to buy their lunch and what pleasantly surprised me the most was that many started spending time with their spouses and friends outdoors over the weekends and weekday evenings, to clock in their steps. This ushered in a lot of positive behaviour in everyone.
One of our active participants, Pansy shared that, “Now I enjoy waking up early and doing my morning walks. I am able to get more work done and I feel much refreshed by the time I get to the office. It also gives me some alone time to think and relax my mind, a rare privilege in our times. In our Singapore office, Nikhita, our CRM & Loyalty Associate Consultant said, “This challenge is making me feel healthier and it’s given me a new found energy to go to work every day.”
It's been almost 3 months since the #HealthMaXChallenge has become an integral part of the #HappyTribe and it's become a part of their daily vocabulary. This little “obsession” that everyone has cultivated is helping them in staying active and be conscious about making healthier choices. The ROI has been extremely positive in that I receive far lesser sick leave applications & MCs than before;)
Be active. Stay healthy. Make better choices in life!