Telecom giant Sprint estimates it saved approximately $1.1 million through a social media wellness challenge it launched last summer. Fourteen thousand of the company’s 40,000 United States employees participated in the 12-week challenge, which ran on a social media platform.

Sprint wanted to “change the conversation on health to make individuals accountable so they’re engaged in their own wellness journeys,” said Kari Severson, market strategy manager with OptumHealth, which helped Sprint run the program. Severson and Stacey Nelson, Sprint’s manager of health and wellness, presented the results of the challenge in a webinar last week.

Because it was the first health challenge the company had launched on a national scale, Sprint wanted a turnkey solution that was easily scalable to all its locations across the U.S. It was also looking for a program that would engage its young, tech-savvy workforce and it wanted a program that would offer measurable outcomes.

Sprint partnered with ShapeUp, a wellness software company, to launch a 12-week program it dubbed the Sprint Get Fit challenge. Employees were encouraged to sign up in teams and the competition focused on three areas: weight loss, exercise minutes and pedometer steps.

Using ShapeUp’s social networking platform, employees could log their progress online through a website as well as through their mobile devices. Standings in various categories were posted at the end of each week so employees could indulge in a little friendly competition and hold each other accountable.

“The goal wasn’t for employees to be the best of the best,” noted Nelson. “It was ‘are they able to make a change to their behavior?’”

And results suggest employees were, in fact, able to change their behavior. The challenge achieved the following results:

  • Over 40,000 pounds of weight lost
  • Nearly 22,000 exercise minutes completed
  • Almost 4.8 billion steps taken

Of those who participated in the program, nearly 70% were first-time wellness participants. “That’s exciting because it’s tapping into a new group of employees and gets them to have a positive first experience,” said Severson.
“It’s a breakthrough program for Sprint,” said Nelson. “It proved out the concept of social wellness and set the stage for future efforts.”

The company is currently conducting another wellness challenge with the goal of helping employees maintain their weight over the holidays.

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