Futures Advice, Skills & Employment - Walking Lunch 2016
At Futures Advice, Skills & Employment, we are a people-focused company and recognise the importance of investing in our colleagues. We have an initiative called ‘More than Work’ which supports employees in health, wellbeing and social activities. It is part of our health and wellbeing approach that recognises the importance of activities other than work.
Eileen O’Reilly, HR Manager, Futures Advice, Skills & Employment
Employees’ 6 Million Steps To Winning Westfield Health Walking Lunch 2016
Employees at the careers advice company, Futures Advice, Skills & Employment, recently totalled 6 million steps during the Westfield Health Walking Lunch campaign. The company’s HR Manager, Eileen O’Reilly, from Future’s head office in Sherwood Rise, Nottingham, discusses how the team stepped up to the challenge and walked the equivalent distance of travelling from the UK to New York.
“At Futures Advice, Skills & Employment, we are a people-focused company and recognise the importance of investing in our colleagues. We have an initiative called ‘More than Work’ which supports employees in health, wellbeing and social activities. It is part of our health and wellbeing approach that recognises the importance of activities other than work. When we heard about the Westfield Health Walking Lunch 2016, to encourage people to take more steps during National Walking Month in May, we thought it would be a great fit for this.
“The ‘Westfield Health Walking Lunch’ was launched to inspire workers to reclaim their lunchbreak, get active, get outside and take a 20-minute walk, and there was a prize of £1,000 for the company which managed to walk the most steps during the month.
“The campaign appealed to us because we recognise the importance of taking a real break during the day to increase energy and sustain concentration levels. Also, the element of team work and the external competition gave it an edge, making it more interesting and motivating.
“We started by setting up a Land’s End to John O’Groats company challenge. Employees got into teams and competed to see who could total the most steps, walking the equivalent route from Land’s End to John O’Groats (837 miles in total). So that lots of staff could take part, we included teams from within the same office, as well as virtual teams from across our offices around the country. So, someone in our office in Leicester could be on a team with someone from our Nottingham office – they would both total their weekly steps and add them together to contribute to the team.
“Throughout the month, the nominated walking team leaders totalled their team’s weekly steps and populated a leader board with the results and the equivalent distance walked. For example, the first week’s target was to take around 78,000 steps which would be the equivalent of the first leg from Land’s End through Bodmin to Oakhampton. The next week the target of steps set would take staff the equivalent of travelling through Exeter up to Honiton and Shepton Mallet. This continued each week so that if targets were continually achieved, employees would have travelled up through the country and reached the equivalent of John O’Groats.
“The team leaders were also responsible for populating the Westfield Health leader board and sharing the top tips with the team to keep the initiative alive and fun.
“It was great seeing how creative people became when planning more steps into their daily routines, and, following Westfield’s advice, people got up and about in their lunch breaks giving themselves a good screen break and a chance to stretch their legs.
“One of my colleagues had the idea of walking to a different park on each of her lunch breaks and taking pictures at each one to share on social media channels. Staff were also good at encouraging each other and helping each other to incorporate more steps where possible.
“I think what helped boost our company ahead of others was our strong walking team leaders who were given ownership to motivate their teams, and also our sophisticated, visible spreadsheet that provided data on how well individuals and teams were doing.
“Staff really engaged with the campaign and there was healthy competition between teams when it came to checking the total steps each week.
“The campaign definitely boosted staff morale, and having that time at lunch meant people came back to work in the afternoon feeling refreshed and revived. We noticed that even just a small bit of movement and fresh air can have a huge impact on your afternoon energy levels.
“We were delighted that, by the end of the month, we’d walked more than 6 million steps as a company – this is the equivalent of walking from the UK to New York!
“We’ve decided to put the £1,000 prize money out to consultation so that staff can decide how it is spent. Lots of ideas have been coming through: yoga sessions, Fitbits, paying for a Westfield Health upgrade, paying for a consultant to write a health and wellbeing strategy, spa days and fruit bowls.
“Taking part in the Westfield Health Walking Lunch has definitely boosted the health and wellbeing of employees. We had a culture where people often sat at their desk during their lunch break and this campaign tackled that problem head on.
“We have tried other health and wellbeing initiatives in the past, for example, we participated in the Big Wheel’s workplace challenge encouraging employees to cycle, walk and run, and we also offered a Learn to Run, couch to 5k running session which ended with a graduation at a Forest Rec Parkrun. What we liked about ‘Walking Lunch’, is its simplicity. It doesn’t take a lot of training, can be quite social, and we felt so much more stimulated coming back to our desk after a bit of fresh air.
“We have since continued to incorporate walking into our everyday routines, including taking a good break at lunch time, and we’ve even signed up to take part in the Robin Hood Marathon as our next corporate challenge.”
‘Walking Lunch’ was set up by Westfield Health to raise awareness of the health implications of sedentary behaviour in the workplace.
The Sheffield-based health and wellbeing company conducted a survey of 2,000 employees and found that 51 per cent of British workers do not get up from their desks at all during the working day, apart from going to the toilet.
More than 400 companies and 2,700 people took part in the campaign – tackling inactivity in a variety of workplaces across the UK.