Health challenge – staying fit through the pandemic, together

Health challenge: Good Health and Good Life is written on a black board.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Okay, it takes a little more than that to be truly healthy and fit. That’s why a team at Pepperl+Fuchs in Twinsburg, Ohio, is responsible for health-related matters concerning employees at the Pepperl+Fuchs locations in the United States and Canada. As one initiative, an eight-week health challenge was launched in the summer of 2020, despite the changed working conditions due to the pandemic. We caught up with Laretha, Project Manager and Human Resources Generalist in Twinsburg, to talk about how it went.

Laretha, how did the idea for the health challenge arise?
Laretha: These days, good health and general well-being are priceless. That’s a fundamental belief our company has embraced for many years. And that’s why employees at the Pepperl+Fuchs locations in the United States and Canada have been using various options to improve their health for years now. For example, we organize regular health weeks, which encompass a wealth of activities, at the various sites. That wasn’t an option amid in the pandemic, with social distancing rules and remote work, of course. But health management is more important than ever in an emergency situation like the coronavirus pandemic. So we had to shift everything around and started thinking about creating a completely new event. To adapt to the changes in people’s working conditions during the pandemic, all our health measures had to be things they could do anytime, anywhere. We also needed it to be a format that would motivate people to join despite the tougher conditions we are facing right now – something that would be fun and boost team spirit while keeping participants highly motivated. That was ultimately how the health challenge came to be.

Health Challenge: In an exceptional situation like the corona pandemic, sport and physical balance are more important than ever. (Image: © udra11 / shutterstock.com)
In an exceptional situation like the corona pandemic, sport and physical balance are more important than ever. (Image: © udra11 / shutterstock.com)

More than just nutrition and exercise

So what, exactly, did the health challenge entail?
Laretha: Over an eight-week period, we sent out weekly e-mails with tasks and suggested goals and tips for various health-related areas, which participants could follow regardless of where they were currently working. Nutrition and physical activity weren’t the only topics, far from it, in fact. We also focused on the areas of stress management, work-life balance, and general well-being. This included activities designed to foster resilience, relaxation, and mental well-being. Tasks aiming at striking a good balance between work and private life were part of it, too. After all, good well-being can have a positive impact on day-to-day family life and the work environment as well.

Could you give a couple of examples of the various tasks?
Laretha: Focusing on tasks that could be incorporated into everyday life, we suggested certain goals like “meditate for ten minutes a day,” “don’t consume any sugary beverages for eight weeks,” or “drink more water.” Beyond that, of course, people were also welcome to set their own individual goals. Some people wanted to spend more time with their family, while others got up earlier in the morning to go for a walk before work. Some people started doing yoga, and others did strength training every day. We also saw goals like “lose five percent of my body weight,” “eat vegetables with every meal,” and “run a marathon.”

Health challenge: Stress management methods, a good work-life balance and personal well-being also played an important role in the Health Challenge. (Image: © fizkes / shutterstock.com)
Stress management methods, a good work-life balance and personal well-being also played an important role in the Health Challenge. (Image: © fizkes / shutterstock.com)

The success stories could be shared

How did you mark the end of the health challenge?
Laretha: At the end of the challenge, everyone was invited to participate in an anonymous survey to share their impressions and results. People also had the opportunity to share their success stories or photos if they wanted. The results of the challenge were then compiled, including charts, photos, and personal comments from some participants, and published.

How was the health challenge received among employees?
Laretha: We were really thrilled by the warm response and high motivation of all involved. We were especially happy that many of our participants also felt that the challenge had brought them closer again, despite the physical distance. People shared their progress right from the start and motivated each other to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Then, when the various success stories were published in the end, colleagues talked about their personal experiences during these eight weeks and congratulated each other on their accomplishments. In addition to promoting employees’ health and well-being, we were therefore also able to strengthen team spirit, interpersonal communication, and our sense of community.

Cover picture: © pupunkkop / shutterstock.com