Why every employee is already a marathon runner 🏃

Want to go big during your next vitality initiative? Perhaps you were thinking of a walking or running initiative. While running is not for every employee, every employee can be a marathon runner. But for that, a running initiative might not be the best suited vitality initiative. Taking small steps will automatically make you run a marathon. With insights from organising more than 500+ vitality initiatives, we show you how to turn every employee into a marathon runner.

Time to read: 5 minutes

Why every employee is already a marathon runner 🏃

The power of small steps

Think back to how much you have already walked today. Maybe you walked from the train station to the office. Or you plan to walk past the supermarket after work for some extra groceries. Add that up, you might have walked 20 minutes in a day. We sometimes walk more than we realise. What if your colleagues walk 20 minutes daily. Added up, they would already be running 15 marathons a year. It's like the story of the tortoise and the hare; slow but steady wins the race. A simple habit like walking every day can have a huge impact on the health and well-being of your employees over a longer period of time. Therefore, start by encouraging short walks during the working day. For example, suggest that everyone goes for a walk around the block during lunch. This can be as simple as setting out a walking route around the office and promoting a daily walking challenge. In addition, you can introduce walking meetings. Instead of sitting in a meeting room, go outside with your team for a walking meeting. This not only promotes physical health, but also boosts creativity and productivity. An example is scheduling a weekly walking meeting where you discuss the agenda while getting some fresh air.

Encourage walks outside the working day

Vitality is not just 9 to 5. Plenty of magic can happen between times out there. Think of all the opportunities that surface in the evenings, mornings and weekends. Perhaps you yourself have taken walks outside working hours. A walk with a family member or friend to catch up or you wanted to discover a new environment. Your vitality initiative can also take place in the evenings and weekends in various ways. For example, consider a walking goal where different teams have a kilometre goal each week. This way they can walk during the week in their free time but walk together as a team. The kilometres are added up for each individual and this is how you try to reach the kilometre goal as a team. Or consider organising walking groups where employees can get together for a morning or evening walk. This not only promotes exercise, but also team spirit and social connection. For example, call the vitality initiative 'Walk Wednesday', where employees are invited to take a walk together in a nearby park or nature area after working hours.

Turn big ambitions into small steps

You have a good idea for your next vitality initiative and this gets your adrenaline pumping. Out of enthusiasm, you want to go big right away. Maybe you want to challenge employees to take 10,000 steps every day. Or serve only healthy meals in the canteen for a month. While ambition is great, it can be overwhelming for employees to immediately start with a big goal that is far away from their current habits. Just as getting a six-pack takes time, building a culture of healthy habits also takes time and patience. Therefore, start small first. For example, introduce the vitality initiative of a daily 10-minute walking challenge. Make it approachable and achievable, so everyone can participate without feeling overwhelmed. During the initiative, give short reminders in meetings or send these daily via internal communication platforms so that you continue to encourage and motivate colleagues to get some fresh air during working hours.

Or make it even smaller with mini breaks

You can make the vitality initiative even smaller and simpler by promoting mini breaks. Start your first vitality initiative entirely around introducing 2-minute breaks where employees leave their workstations to take a moment to stretch. With a daily announcement system or a shared calendar reminder, you can encourage employees to make it a new habit to take more breaks. The idea is to give everyone a break from their screens and encourage movement without much time investment. When you see or hear that this habit is continued by more employees even after your vitality initiative, you can raise the goal of your next vitality initiative.

Create a culture of wellbeing

Ultimately, the goal of the vitality initiative does not matter. Whether it's the 10,000 steps, walking miles or running a marathon. You just want a healthy culture where employees take good care of themselves and each other. For this, it is important to identify which habits have the most impact on your organisation and start small. First, look at what employees enjoy doing. Try adding a competitive component in a low-threshold way and repeat this a few times at first. By regularly focusing on healthy habits and linking them to fun vitality initiatives, you create lasting change. Organise a new challenge every month that offers an ever-increasing challenge. Make sure these initiatives are playful and competitive to keep your team enthusiastic and motivate each other.

Every employee has the potential to be a marathon runner, not through big, overwhelming steps, but through small, consistent efforts. By focusing on achievable and repeatable healthy habits, you build a culture of wellbeing that provides long-term benefits for your organisation. So start your next vitality initiative in small steps and you will be amazed at the impact it can have.