Our company gift to employees this past holiday season was a Jawbone UP band – a great way of walking the talk and demonstrating ConnectedHealth’s mission of helping people achieve health and financial security. Leading up to our annual team meeting in mid- January (see group pic below!), we decided to conduct an activity challenge that would help motivate our employees as we kicked off the new year. The challenge was to hit 10,000 steps per day, and with a great turnout, ConnectedHealth began the process of stepping our way to success.
We thought it would be fun to share some of the observations and learnings from our company challenge, as they provide some great anecdotal insights into things like behavior change and motivation.
“In It To Win It” vs. “In It For Me” (otherwise known as extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation)
In the beginning, it was clear that some were motivated to win the challenge (even though a prize had not been announced, and as it turns out, the prize was really only bragging rights!). However, when a leader (you’ll have to read to the end to find out who) quickly pulled out in front and created a lead that was ultimately unchallengeable, several people reverted to a mode of focusing on personal goals (e.g., achieving the 10,000 steps every day). In the end, this was probably the better, more sustainable motivation, so it was great to hear that they chose that approach rather than giving up altogether.
Many of us were surprised to learn how naturally sedentary we – and our daily routines – are. As a result, people found small ways to introduce activity – taking a walk at lunch or parking a little farther away from the office – small but significant approaches that really made the most difference throughout this competition.
Importance of In-Your-Face Feedback
In my opinion, it would be helpful if the UP band provided a digital readout of your steps during the day. For some, that lack of a visual reminder resulted in participants falling short of their set goals. On the other hand, a visual reminder could also be seen as a deterrent for those who get easily distracted and even unmotivated if they are not hitting their expected goals.
Challenges for the OCD-Inclined
Those of us who are a little OCD-inclined (myself included!) have found that these tracking devices fuel our OCD tendencies. We find it difficult to end our day while being short of our goal, and we obsessively check throughout the day to see how many steps we’ve accumulated. (I’ve been known to pace up and down the hallway at night to get those last couple hundred steps in!). For a hilarious read on how this can get out of hand quickly, check out David Sedaris’ experience with his FitBit.
All in all, it was a fun, eye-opening experience. Our winner by a long shot, with 180k steps (a 20k step-per-day average!) was Danielle Patalano, one of our fabulous Implementation Analysts. Congratulations Danielle!
We all agreed that we needed to continue the activity challenges, and that nine days wasn’t enough to cement habits, so we’ve started a challenge to run the month of February. This time almost everyone is in the game!