Team Kent State Places First in National On the Move University Challenge
They laced up. They warmed up. They got moving. In the end, nearly 800 hard-charging, heart-pounding employees from across Kent State University’s eight campuses came together as one team. TEAM KENT STATE captured first place in the national On the Move University Challenge for the most active university in the country.
“The challenge really gets at the whole person, and this is what our employees like about On the Move,” said Kim Hauge, Kent State’s director of employee wellness.
As the university recessed for the holiday break, faculty and staff members on TEAM KENT STATE sprinted to the finish line to complete their commitment to represent Kent State in the first-ever On the Move University Challenge.
The university challenge grew out of a collaborative partnership between Kent State, Plymouth State University and the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) to pilot a university-focused challenge designed to engage other colleges and universities across the nation to take a stand for more movement and improved cultures of well-being for employees.
“We weren’t sure how employees would respond to two major challenges in the same year,” Hauge said. “In the spring, Kent State participated in a similar, yet not university-specific, national move challenge with WELCOA and placed 17th in the nation, securing a Top 25 Most Active Employer Award. Was this asking too much too soon?”
Kent State is committed to creating a healthy campus environment and aspires to emerge as one of the healthiest university communities in the nation. This university-wide effort, called Kent State of Wellness, promotes a culture of health and wellness for students and employees at all Kent State campuses. It also aligns with the vision and goals outlined in A Strategic Roadmap to a Distinctive Kent State. Under this initiative, a robust employee wellness program provides services and resources to support employees physically, mentally and emotionally, such as the On the Move University Challenge.
“We felt fairly confident given prior feedback from our employees on the value they placed on the program, but this would be somewhat different, and the timing of the challenge was of some concern leading into the holidays,” Hauge said. “What we learned is that the curriculum WELCOA would choose was perfect for the challenge as it focused on building happiness, improving upon relationships both at work and at home, and enjoying happy and healthy holidays, including helpful nutritional information.”
“To mix it up a bit more, we chose to add some new features to the challenge for our employees, such as an optional game board,” said Deanna Duffy, employee wellness coordinator at Kent State. “This gave participating employees fun mini-challenges to participate in, such as walking meetings, sharing a healthy fall recipe, taking a poker walk break, boosting a teammate and more. This also encouraged employees participating in the challenge to engage co-workers in their work areas to practice effective ways to incorporate more movement into their workday.”
Kent State’s Employee Wellness team was very excited to see the employee engagement on the University Challenge platform. The unique attributes of the gamified platform were the ability to engage with colleagues in the challenge.
“Our favorite feature was that it didn’t matter if the employee was situated in Ashtabula, East Liverpool or New York City; they were right there, on our team, participating as if they were in the next office over,” Hauge said.
With the platform, employees could boost their teammates to provide encouragement, share their goals for the week, benefit from the health-focused curriculum, and then privately assess themselves on important health knowledge and attitudes that may lead to improved health and well-being.
So it came as no surprise that TEAM KENT STATE marched up the leaderboard in week two of this 12-week challenge. TEAM KENT STATE never lost that spot, although close attempts were made by Plymouth State and Baldwin Wallace University to edge in, but Kent State never gave up the top spot. Kent State employees kicked it up another notch, widened the gap between first and second place, and crossed that finish line as champions.
TEAM KENT STATE will be back in the spring to compete in the National Move Challenge.
“I’m sure our team will be up for the challenge, and we hope to see another great turnout,” Hauge said.