How Two Very Successful Summer Challenges Engaged — and Delighted — Health Incentive Program Members

Did you have a fun summer? We certainly hope so.

In fact, we hope you had the kind of summer that many employees experienced at two of our largest client companies. These employees enjoyed the kind of summer that generates warm and fun memories to draw upon during the chill of winter. They experienced the kind of summer that helps build the body as well as the spirit.

They were challenged to do so.

You see, both of these ChipRewards client companies asked us to help customize and manage summer challenge fitness programs for their employees. It was a pleasure for us to do so. And everybody had some fun with it.

Here are their stories…

Catch the Wellness Wave

That was the theme of the summer challenge for a hospital client in Birmingham. This challenge was all about doing lots of walking at a fun place. Varying point totals were rewarded for going to different fun destinations, all involving water, and all involving lots of walking: a local lake; a popular waterpark; a beach.

Participation was great. Lots of members caught the wellness wave. (Not surprisingly, more members caught the easier wellness wave than the most difficult.)

Here is the final participation tally for the three destinations:

  • Lake Martin (175,000 total steps): 91.7% of members
  • White Water Park (300,000 total steps): 37.3% of members
  • Orange Beach (540,000 total steps): 5.8% of members

Stepping Up and Stepping Out

This challenge was for the program members of an insurance provider. The theme was about stepping up to the best possible summer vacation. Vacation choices included a camping trip, a weekend getaway, a beach vacation, a Caribbean cruise — even an African safari!

These members were challenged to have a very active (and very fun!) summer. And they did. Here is the final participation tally:

  • Camping trip (200,000 total steps): 99.8% of members
  • Weekend getaway (300,000 total steps): 76.1% of members
  • Beach vacation (400,000 total steps): 50.4% of members
  • Caribbean cruise (500,000 total steps): 30.2% of members
  • African safari (600,000 total steps): 16.7% of members

The Great Thing About Challenges

The best thing about challenges is that everyone who participates benefits in multiple ways. Even members who only participated in the least-challenging challenge burned up nearly 9,000 calories, or more than two pounds of fat.

More than 90% of members participated on some level. Nearly 100% of the insurance group members participated in the camping challenge — an astounding level of participation.

Member engagement and participation are key to the success of employee incentive programs. Communication is also crucially important (we continuously send customized communications to members during the course of the challenge).

So, in the long-term — with the increased engagement, participation, and communication that result — the programs of both of these companies will benefit in ways that will extend far beyond the challenges. And a solid foundation was laid for successful future challenges.

The Challenging Thing About Challenges

There are plenty of pre-canned challenge programs available; both of these companies had previously used a program that wasn’t configurable to their members.

But challenges that aren’t customized to a program’s member base simply aren’t going to be as successful as customized programs. They aren’t going to achieve the same levels of participation. They aren’t going to draw the same level of interest from members.

A key customization component? Challenges should provide a visual display to participants that offers an easy-to-understand depiction of their progress, and that tracks achievements to keep them engaged. Below are some examples of visual achievements that members received throughout their summer challenges:

Camping challenge met. On to the weekend getaway!

A beach vacation challenge? Who knew ‘challenges’ could be such fun!

Perhaps most importantly, generic challenge programs aren’t going to be as much fun for the member base. Because the fun factor drives member engagement more than anything else. Even the challenge of reducing health threats through physical activity won’t drive engagement as effectively as the dangling carrot of fun.

But it’s undeniable — customized challenge programs can be difficult to plan, design, initiate, and manage. And it’s particularly difficult if your team doesn’t have experience in creating and managing customized programs.

Here’s Your Challenge…

Rewards challenges aren’t just for summertime, of course. The goal is to keep members engaged as active participants in your program throughout the year.

That’s why we recommend at least three customized rewards challenges per year. That level of engagement helps keep members continuously interacting with the ChipRewards platform. And that ongoing interaction helps to drive other positive behaviors that aren’t directly associated with the challenges: more wellness checks, better weight management — all of the traditional goals of a health incentive program.

So, your challenge is to initiate three (at least!) customized challenges for your members during the coming year.

Yes, we know; three challenges yearly may seem a daunting effort, particularly if your team has no experience with customized rewards challenges. But have no fear: the ChipRewards team has lots of experience in helping design, customize, and manage rewards challenges. And we’re here to help.

Consider the summer challenges discussed above. Each of these were first efforts for both companies — neither had previously attempted to conduct customized challenge events. That’s why we were asked to help with designing and managing both of the challenges.

It was a strong first effort for both companies, wouldn’t you agree?

At least three customized challenges per year. That’s what we recommend for every program. Are you ready to get started? We’re here to help. Contact for more information.


Josh Smithey

VP of Products and Sales Enablement - ChipRewards