Note from Beth: I recently facilitated a Happy Healthy Nonprofit workshop on bringing a culture of wellbeing into the nonprofit workplace. We discussed the importance of leadership modeling and supporting a culture of wellbeing. My colleague, Laura Norvig, who works for ETR, a behavioral health non-profit devoted to providing science-based programs and services for youth and families, shared some great examples about how their nonprofit’s CEO, Vignetta Charles, PHd, has helped shift the culture. Her CEO recently wrote a post reflecting on their wellness efforts on the organization’s blog and she agreed generously to republish this post as a guest post.
ETR Steps Forward for Weekly #WorkplaceWellness by Vignetta Charles, PHd
Something new is brewing here at ETR. No, I’m not talking about our new CEO (that would be me). Nor am I talking about our group of new hires, although they are all very cool (and, BTW, we do have several current openings).
I’m talking about walking. Stepping up. Living our values. It’s ETR’s very own weekly step challenge, and it’s helping us make some impressive changes within our own workplace.
From Simple Start to Grand Goal
It started simply—as all great movements do. A few ETRians who like walking or running decided to set up a weekly step challenge together. The group grew, and so did the number of steps logged. It didn’t take long before a hearty cadre of 8 steppers racked up a 5-day workweek total of 468,731 steps. Nice job!
But we are an organization that believes in continuous improvement. “Hey,” said one of the steppers. “Let’s get some more folks involved and set ourselves a goal of one million steps over 5 days!” The group got bigger, the step count grew, and all kinds of discussions about physical activity began to circle around our offices. “Can we count swimming?” “What if I don’t have a Fitbit?” “How are you keeping yourself motivated?”
The steps are adding up. The energy is building. This may be the week we reach that million step goal!
The steppers are liking it, but they’re not all walking for the same reason. For some—like me—it’s competition. For others, it’s the overall camaraderie. Several people have talked about how this is giving them the inspiration to go another 10 steps, or another 100.
Here are some of the things our steppers have to say:
- As a remote worker, joining in the Weekly Workplace Wellness effort has helped me connect and bond with colleagues I don’t usually interact with. Fun!
- I finished two audiobooks and started a third this week, mainly because my ETR Stepper Peeps motivated me and kept me on my toes. Literally.
- I’ve got my Fitbit set to remind me to take 250 steps an hour. I’ve been trying it out this week, and I’m feeling more alert at my desk through the entire day.
- I’m not very competitive by nature. But the Fitbit app displays our Workweek Hustle rankings and lets me know if I’m close on the heels of another stepper. I’ve noticed that’s enough to motivate me to get out and do a few more steps.
- It definitely feels good to have some top down support for wellness. Fun to have your CEO join your Workweek Hustle group!
We’re also seeing some great photos of the walks folks are taking. Here’s early morning at the Santa Cruz Wharf:
Santa Cruz Wharf
Borrowing neighbor’s dog for a walk
Here’s one of our ETR intrepid training teams (including colleague trainer Miguel Taveras, from Proceed, Inc.), up at 4:00 a.m. West Coast time to get their steps in before their event in New Orleans (photobomb by Michael Everett, trainer extraordinaire, with a supportive cheer in the background)
Extending and Growing
As the leader of this mighty band, I am indeed proud of what I see happening here. We are supporting each other in making healthy choices. This is a way for us to live one of the bedrock values of our organization. It helps us move from talking to walking—figuratively and literally.
There is praise aplenty for every participant’s achievements (no matter how large or small). There is felicitous collegiality (“Let’s do a walking meeting today.”) There is thoughtful wit (“There’s movement afoot…” A pedestrian cliché…).
There are even, good heavens, walking haiku:
Craving to be fit
Walking, trekking, counting steps
Stronger than before
I love the way this effort is extending and enriching our connections and genuinely changing our behavior. We may have started with eight people, but I’m setting my sights on 80—and beyond!
I hope with all my (healthier from walking) heart that you are being equally inspired in your own workplace. I’d love to hear about the wellness efforts of your organization.
Vignetta Charles, PhD, is Chief Executive Officer of ETR. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.