Step Challenges for Faculty Wellness

40,000 employees, Two HR departments, and a Successful Wellness Program at University of Utah

Coaching world class athletes is a dream come true for some people. It was reality for Britta Trepp. “I moved to Utah to train Olympic athletes. I worked with the US speedskating team for two summers,” she says. After two years, Britta wanted to do something different. “I cared more about making physical activity and wellbeing accessible to more people.” Britta’s passion for community health brought her to the University of Utah’s Office of Wellness and Integrative Health, where she creates, manages, and tracks the effectiveness of employee wellness programs. “Most of what I do is trying to redefine wellness culture,” she says.

The University has two separate HR Departments. One department covers its main Academics and Health Sciences campus. Another department covers its hospitals and clinics. 

Britta has the unique challenge of working with both departments to manage wellness programming for the University of Utah’s 40,000 employees. She created a wellness certification program, coordinated a diabetes prevention program, and built an osteoporosis prevention program called Build a Bone.

Despite these programs, Britta felt like something was missing: the element of fun. They believed that they could make wellness fun by running a university-wide step challenge. The platform they used, however, left a lot to be desired. “It was not user friendly, it did not look good. From the back end, it was incredibly difficult to use. I wanted something that looked fun, and was fun to play with. I also wanted something that integrated with our single sign-on system,” she says.

A Step In The Right Direction

Britta discovered Walker Tracker and found the fun, engaging, and user friendly solution she sought. Walker Tracker offered an attractive user interface and the ability to integrate with their single sign-on system. They could also create custom challenges to educate employees about systemic health disparities in their community. This spring, they partnered with the Utah Food Bank for 50K In May, a fundraiser and custom challenge where employees learned about food insecurity across the state of Utah. “That challenge was really cool. The HR departments loved it,  and we’re hoping to run more of those in the future,” says Britta.

Walker Tracker helped with engagement as many employees adjusted to working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Britta explains “I spoke to a lot of people and said ‘hey, I know we can’t physically go to Europe right now, but we can go virtually with the ‘Backpack Through Europe’ challenge.” This message resonated with employees who sought connection and teamwork in a new and uncertain virtual work environment. “What we’ve been most surprised with is how many individuals and groups have wanted to run challenges. People care most about the folks in their work group. They care about their department, their office, and their friends. That’s why Walker Tracker is so great. Those people have the ability to log on, try things out, and create their own challenges. Or use it to track their weight or water intake,” says Britta.

Britta continues to upload Youtube videos that help employees navigate the registration process. They add blurbs in a monthly internal newsletter announcing each quarterly challenge. The statistics show that this communication plan has been successful.

What’s Next

The University of Utah Office of Wellness and Integrative Medicine adopted Walker Tracker to increase the number of Walker Tracker users. More importantly, they want their employees to be healthier and move more. Britta will create quarterly system wide challenges that will be accessible to all 40,000 of the university’s employees. Walker Tracker has hundreds of challenges that engage employees of all fitness and ability levels. “Walker Tracker offers mindfulness challenges to create awareness around healthy and balanced lifestyles. There are challenges focused on water intake and nutrition as well. Our employees can participate in other ways aside from a walking challenge.”