Why motivational health challenges are so effective in workplace health programs March 13th, 2013, by Ken Buckley

If you’ve been running a workplace health program for a few years now, you’ve probably discovered that many employees find it difficult to maintain focus on their health goals over time. 

After the initial flurry and excitement that comes from a new workplace program, or from losing the first few kilos or  finally getting a full night’s sleep, it can be hard for employees to maintain momentum. 

This is especially true for a goal such as physical fitness, which is rarely ever achieved in a “final” way – there is always the next level to attain. People who go from a sedentary lifestyle to regular walks one year, may then extend to jogging the next year, and then have their sights set on an event such as a half-marathon or fun run.

There is a solution to this problem, and it’s a paradoxical one. It’s to make those health goals secondary goals. You change the focus to a bigger, loftier goal.

If the health goal is physical fitness, then you create a fun but aspirational goal which requires a heightened level of physical fitness to achieve, but which makes fitness the means, not the end.

One of our staff members, our Program Manager Katherine Rothwell, took part in the Wild Women on Top Sydney Coastrek, a 50km or 100km coastline walk from Palm Beach to Balmoral or Coogee to raise money for the Fred Hollows Foundation.

She says, “I find that when you set an extraordinary goal such Coastrek, the focus becomes achieving that challenging goal, while the physical fitness becomes a secondary benefit.”

Katherine is a busy mum of two, who manages to work for us plus run a health & fitness business. She knows a thing or two about health goals and motivation. She trained and motivated six teams of four people to take part in Coastrek. They did regular weekly training sessions, including walking and cross-training, but as Katherine sees it, that’s a means to an end.

“There is a great sense of achievement in not only finishing the event, but also the sense of achievement from committing to training for something like this,” Katherine says.

Employee health campaigns

This is where your employee health challenges and campaigns really come to the fore. These challenges inspire your employees to make changes in order to achieve an exciting goal.

One of our most popular campaigns is our Fitness Challenge. Employees form teams to walk, run or “move” the equivalent of The Great Ocean Road in Victoria in 28 days. When they log their activities, employees can see how far along the Great Ocean Road they’ve travelled, and even what sights they can “see” along the way.

It’s a fabulous way to establish a consistent fitness routine, while promoting team bonding – and, as a side effect, getting physically fitter!

A similar campaign is the Outback Walkabout, which takes employees on a virtual trek through the Australian outback, using pedometers to measure daily steps.


Healthworks offers eight employee health campaigns, along with 80+ other employee health products and services. Call us on 1300 90 10 90 or email us to find out more.

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