May19

KPFF Los Angeles Wellness Challenges

It all started a few months away from one of my co-worker’s wedding. She wanted to lose a few pounds to look “gooood” in her wedding dress, and her future sister-in-law suggested doing a wellness challenge that she had done previously in her office. She mentioned the idea of this wellness challenge during a staff meeting. The response was positive, enthusiastic, and several people were immediately asking to sign up! In a fit of solidarity I had offered to join her in the wellness challenge before it became an office thing, so I was roped into helping to plan the whole event.

The 6-week challenge had participants compete in two categories: percent weight loss and points. Points were earned from doing daily tasks such as drinking 64 ounces of water and exercising. The top 3 winners in both categories won a percentage of the $20 buy-in pot. The intricate point system we built into the challenge really appealed to our engineers’ love of numbers and math. In response to office enthusiasm, we started a new Wellness Group that has organized wellness-themed activities, events, and office culture beyond just the Wellness Challenge.

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We have had two more challenges since the first one, each with a slightly different theme. The second wellness challenge was more “team” oriented. We typically hire a group of summer interns and we wanted to use this as a way to get to know the interns and welcome them into our company. We took out the % weight loss and focused on the points categories. Each participant was randomly placed in one of four teams, but still earned individual points for doing daily tasks. There were prizes for the MVP of each team, but the big one was the team prize. In addition to points, we had weekly team challenges for bonus points: a team lunch, a tug-of-war competition, a decathlon and so on. The interns were team captains, to encourage them to reach out to their teammates, and as a result, were able to make relationships with more co-workers than just those on their project teams. 

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For our third challenge, we added a “Peer-Review Personal Goal” to the challenge. In addition to the daily points, participants could earn weekly bonus points for achieving a pre-set and peer-reviewed personal goal. We let the participants tell us what self- improvements they wanted to make. There were a wide variety of goals, including for example: muscle gain, cooking more and/or healthier meals, keeping exercising routines, speed, etc. It was a very open-ended challenge, and the personal goals were public, so we learned about our co-workers and what their goals were.

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As is shown in the chart, we have seen an increase in participants with every challenge. 

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In addition to the challenge we’ve organized participation in the Fight for Air Climb where we climb the AON Tower in downtown Los Angeles to raise money for the American Lung Association. A nutritionist has come into our office to give lunch seminars, and a pharmacist has administered flu shots. Where food is brought in for staff meetings and lunch and learn seminars, we have switched to healthier food options and added healthier snacks in our snack fridge. We have a corporate gym membership to the Bay Club which gives our employees a 15% discount on fees and provides quarterly complementary events for the entire office. In a private Crossfit event, our employees tried the work-out with fellow co-workers as a team building exercise. 

Overall, the challenges have been popular; participants were experiencing improvement in health and motivation, office morale improved, conversations at work covered healthy recipes, new workouts, drinking enough water, etc. Some of us even take an afternoon break to meet in a conference room to do group planks, squats, and stretches to get our blood flowing after lunch – plus we get extra points for group activities. Co-workers now exchange words of encouragement right and left which is fun. I mean, who doesn’t like to get a high five for drinking 64 ounces of water? All this sounds like it could have been a distraction to our production, but the same quality and quantity of work still got done, with the bonus of employees having more fun at work. We are looking forward to KPFF’s Wellness Challenge v4.0 coming this summer!

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