Atkins Case Study

Workplace Challenge turbo charges team work at Atkins

Organisation Profile

Name of organisation:


Type of organisation:

Private sector

Organisation size:

Approx. 600 staff (Birmingham office)

Geographical location:

Birmingham (Midlands)


  • Workplace Challenge has been effective as a tool to link together a range of workplace health activities at Atkins.
  • The support and activities provided by the local County Sports Partnership, Sport Birmingham enabled employees to try and continue to participate in different activities.
  • The main benefits were in relation to the social aspects where staff developed confidence and stronger relationships with colleagues. Business benefits were also seen in relation to collaboration and community involvement.
  • Atkins have prioritised the wellbeing of their employees and have been successful in creating a culture where employees are empowered to be healthy and active.


The Workplace Challenge was keenly taken up by Atkins as a tool to link together and complement the range of workplace health initiatives they were involved with across the company.

The Workplace Challenge provided a focus for developing the organisation's Be Active initiative, which aims to help employees to move more in and around the working day:

"…the Workplace Challenge plus the face-to-face support we got from Sport Birmingham was the trigger to Atkins taking forward the Be Active initiative and then bolting other things onto it like fitness classes. Workplace Challenge was the impetus to us getting this initiative going."

Workplace Champion – Rachel Evans, Senior Managing Consultant, Atkins.

What activities did the organisation do as part of Workplace Challenge?

In addition to extra fitness classes, employees from Atkins took part in the Sport Birmingham Business Games. The links to Sport Birmingham (the local County Sports Partnership) were very well thought of, with the advice and support being valued as highly as the logging and the website that came as part of the Challenge.

What did employees like about the Workplace Challenge?

The staff enjoyed the competitive aspect of the Challenge with groups forming around 'pods' (i.e. small offices) or 'wings' in the larger office. Staff also loved the social nature of all the activities, getting to know other people from within and outside of the organisation.

"…through the Workplace Challenge, Atkins staff have been able to network with colleagues from our organisation and also other workplaces in Birmingham…"

Senior Manager – Christina Leafe, Director, Infrastructure, Atkins


  • The Challenge helped employees to get to know others in the organisation
  • Employees felt confident being active in a group with colleagues
  • Social benefits were recognised by employees who enjoyed trying new things and being active with colleagues
  • Individuals were more aware of their activity levels
  • The Challenge has helped to change the mind-set of employees with many individuals now making active choices

"Now I wear a Fitbit as a result of starting exercise classes so I'm more conscious about taking the stairs rather than the lift. If I do half an hour walking at lunchtime and then use the stairs up and down I hit 10,000 before I go home."

Dagmar Sharples, PA Support, Atkins

What was the impact of the Workplace Challenge on business outcomes?

Senior management recognised the health and social benefits of physical activity initiatives and saw how these could translate into business benefits:

"The activities provided as part of our wellbeing programme make good business sense; the more our people network and collaborate together, and socialise, inside work and outside work, we think there's a positive benefit for the service that we deliver as a business."

Senior Manager – Christina Leafe, Director, Infrastructure

There was also recognition that being involved in such initiatives was directly good for business, as it could be mentioned in tenders for contracts, boosting Atkins' image as a consultancy:

"The business perspective is: what is the collateral that we can generate that demonstrates how we, as Atkins, get involved in things in our community? The importance of that for us is when we bid for projects clients are looking for community engagement, so it helps build collateral for that. It's great for the staff as well, they love doing it."

Senior Manager – Melanie Redfern, Human Resources Manager

Erin's Story

Erin has a mainly sedentary job. She was not particularly sporty but enjoys exercise from time to time. She found the Challenge, and the associated 'back to netball' class, a great way to get back into being active:

"I'd do some activity like workouts at home, but I wouldn't go and do anything outside. With the Workplace Challenge and the Back to Netball, because it was a starter group, it gave me the confidence to go out and do activities too."

She particularly enjoyed the support she got from workmates who helped break down the barriers to exercise:

"I never would have run in public if it hadn't been for going to the Back to Netball and thinking, 'Yeah, I can make an idiot of
myself, but I work with these people, they know me,' so doing it through work was a lot better."

She also got involved with some of the larger events that were spin-offs from the Challenge, such as the Business Games organised by Sport Birmingham.

Overall Erin found the Challenge to be inspirational and it helped her get back into activity. She found the Challenge to be very positive and would recommend it to other organisations:

"If your company is supportive of it then definitely do it, because you will get people like me. I would never have done team sports without it, so I feel motivated, I do feel happier in the workplace, a lot happier in the workplace. I've met new people that I wouldn't have spoken to. I speak to those people as personal and work contacts."

What were the key factors influencing success of the Workplace Challenge in the organisation?

  • Strong management support for health promotion within Atkins
  • An empowering culture where staff, especially senior staff, are provided with the time and resources to develop and get involved with initiatives across the organisation
  • Atkins has a corporate wellbeing policy which is embedded in its operating principles
  • A local enthusiastic Champion to instigate staff engagement and participation
  • A focus on promoting the inclusivity of activities – accessible to and enjoyable to all levels of fitness
  • A focus on easy to organise and low cost initiatives