The Spark to Ignite a Cross Continent Expedition: Recapping February’s Wellness Challenge

“Meaningful change does not require radical change.” – James Clear, Atomic Habits

How did an optional wellness challenge turn into the equivalent of walking the distance from our data center in London to our new data center in Singapore? You could say Skillable’s employees unconsciously put James Clear’s advice to the test and cultivated BIG results!

As the month of February neared, a challenge was set by our company’s employee experience team: “Who wants to join a month-long step challenge?”

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Skillable’s employees were invited to take on an optional wellness challenge that was meaningful to them. Would you like to set your goal to walk 5,000 steps a day, 7,500 steps a day or 10,000 steps a day? The pace and intensity were in each participant’s hands and the goal was to do your best each day. Next the teams began to form. There were different incentives at hand which added to the motivation. A prize was awarded to the individual with the greatest number of steps accomplished and another prize was for the team whose members collectively achieved the highest percent of their personal goals.

As an entirely remote company, these teams became a source of great support and connection. Michael Schurr, Tier 1 Platform Support Agent, said, “Keeping up with his buddies on team Three Musketeers” was motivating to him. He found switching to the night shift and jogging at 1:00 – 3:00am on his lunch breaks made reaching his goal difficult, but once he got into the routine, he found that the activity helped to “both stimulate and tire me so I am active for my night shift and awake, but nice and tuckered out so I can hit the hay as soon as I clock out.” His team celebrated the end of the challenge by meeting up for a walk together, since they live near each other.

The challenge was kept simple, and participants used the step tracker of their choice and individually logged their steps into a company form either daily or weekly.

What Happened Next was Incredible.

Sixty-nine of our employees actively participated throughout the month. For many, it was a great way to get moving during the colder winter months, when they would otherwise be staying in and less active. For others, this was the spark that helped begin a journey towards a healthier lifestyle.

February drew to a close and the steps were tabulated, revealing that our employees collectively walked 14,135,180 steps! With the quick math that the average person takes 2,000 steps in a mile, this equates to nearly 7,068 miles walked. That’s a distance greater than walking from our data center in London, England, to our newest data center in Singapore (roughly 6,748 miles).

When trying to reach a goal there can be many approaches and ways to start.

In the book Atomic Habits, James Clear mentions, “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” In a company where challenge-centric learning is valued and where systems are created to set learners up for skill mastery, it’s no surprise our employees understood how to apply that concept to the wellness challenge.

Sometimes getting started can be the hard part, for others it’s staying motivated. Tai Janssen, Senior Systems Admin, and crowned as this month’s Individual Step Champion with 477,623 steps, is a prime example of how a simple challenge became the small ripple for great change. For Tai, living in Wisconsin and working from home meant there were a few extra hurtles that kept them from being as active as they knew to be their potential. Tai joined the challenge because, “I’d been pretty inactive for several months prior to this, so I saw it as a good opportunity to get back into good habits.” Although Tai lives near a hiking trail, the weather made outside activities challenging so most of their steps were achieved using a treadmill or meandering around the home. I asked how Tai picked this pace and they said it was because it was one they had done well with before.

That said, reaching this huge feat didn’t come easy. Tai said, “I had to regularly check in with myself to make sure I was doing this as mindfully and healthy as possible.” 


When things got challenging, Tai stayed motivated with one thought:
“I wanted to reach the end and be able to say I accomplished something.”

Tai not only reached this personal goal, but also saw gains in their work life, sharing, “Feeling good about myself makes me a more productive worker. Staying active during meetings and getting some steps in gave me a boost of energy that helped me get through the day.”  

Tai wasn’t the only one who found additional benefits to participating in the event. Robert Lisiecki, Senior Software Engineer, joined the challenge because he “wanted motivation to get out and way from the keyboard.”

“Between work, kids and life in general it is difficult to make the time,” shared Robert.

He is also training for a 100-mile bike ride, so this additional goal required intention to follow through. For Robert, the team dynamic helped him to stick with it and keep going as he didn’t want to let them down, making the challenge greater than just his goals. Robert shared that he intentionally joined an easy-going team of co-workers he generally doesn’t talk to daily, which allowed him to connect outside of his usual team and turned out to be helpful. He also found that by taking time during his workday to go for a walk, he would come back clear minded and refreshed. “This mini break also gave me time to think about problems I need to solve at work while I was out,” shared Robert, noting that it created an overall positive impact.

We are proud of all the focus and effort our employees put into February’s Wellness Challenge! 

Congratulations again Tai, for individually walking the most steps this month, and congratulations to the top two teams, “S-Killing” It and Woggly Joggers, finishing out the month with 1,778,349 and 1,042,922 steps, respectively.

May everyone take this experience and see continued growth in the coming months.

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