A bike ride through the beautiful countryside, or even a routine walk to the corner store, is good for both body and soul. But sometimes even that’s not enough to get us moving in the fresh air. So our Promega Biotech Ibérica branch recently found a way to raise the stakes, and make outdoor activity even more valuable for its employees.
Last summer, the branch came up with the idea to donate one euro to the children’s oncology department of Hospital La Paz in Madrid for every kilometer its staff biked, walked or ran outside. The idea behind Kilometros Solidarios (Solidarity Kilometers) was simple but powerful: healthy activity leading directly to the health of others.
The plan worked. During the months of July, August and September, employees got up and outside and the branch raised €1884 (about $1993 USD) toward the purchase of a much-needed portable ultrasound machine for the hospital. (To point out the obvious, 1884 kilometers of outdoor activity were racked up by just 15 employees. That’s 4710 times around an Olympic track, or about the same distance as walking, biking or running from Promega Ibérica to Promega GmbH or from the Promega Madison headquarters straight south to the Gulf of Mexico.)
“I really enjoyed the brainstorming we did to link two socially responsible actions, impacting employees to improve their own health and the community to buy an ultrasound machine to help cancer patients,” said Ibérica Marketing and Communication Manager Javier Alvarez.
A challenge at the onset was keeping track of the kilometers. It turns out the solution was right in the palm of most everyone’s hands: smart phones. Javier turned to Strava, a free app that can track and automatically log physical activity using GPS. Users can also follow one another, access maps of recommended routes and even post photos of their adventures. (Here are some of the photos taken by Ibérica employees during Kilometros Solidarios.) Javier said this approach worked well “since everyone goes with their mobile everywhere.”
The branch also created a “Promega Group” within the Strava app that ranked employees based on the amount of kilometers they were accumulating. Ibérica General Manager Gijs Jochems said this sparked plenty of friendly needling among coworkers.
“Apart from the apparent success in economic terms, it was fun to see the competition that arose between the colleagues in the office that were close to each other in the ranking,” said Gijs. He said it was not uncommon for employees to declare they were going to walk to the supermarket that afternoon, just so they could be sure to surpass another coworker in the lineup.
“My wife – working as an immunologist at Hospital La Paz – was so interested that she finally managed to be admitted to the ‘Promega Club’ and thereby doubling my own kilometers every time we took a hike this summer,” said Gijs.
Convincing employees to take part in Kilometros Solidarios was rather easy, Javier said, regardless of whether or not they considered themselves athletes, since they loved the ultimate goal of helping children with cancer.
Finance Assistant Noelia Povedano said that even though she doesn’t usually participate in or really even like sports, she did like being part of the initiative because of the dual benefit of improving her own health and raising money for a good cause. Plus, she says, the ranking in the app gave her plenty of motivation.
“You think, if he can do it, I can too,” said Noelia. “It was definitely a wonderful experience and I would participate again without thinking.”
Alberto Rueda, Field Application Specialist, loves cycling and running. He enjoyed taking photos of the stunning scenery during his bike rides and sharing them on the Strava app, but admits that he really loved being able to show off all of his kilometers to his Promega colleagues.
“It was for a good cause, so why not?” said Alberto.