Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group Case Study

Workplace Challenge key to creating a culture of active working at Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group


  • Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group recognise the value of investing in physical activity to improve outcomes in the community and are keen to lead by example in creating an active culture across the organisation.
  • The organisation has participated in several online challenges and established a comprehensive programme of activities for staff to participate in.
  • Employees liked the friendly competition that motivated departments to be more active during the working day.
  • There was a significant impact on morale with a buzz created across the organisation.
  • The individual and team aspects of the Challenge were both motivators in helping staff to be more aware of their activity levels and to find ways to fit more activity into the day.
  • The challenges were seen as inclusive and engaged inactive staff who were enabled to start moving more.
  • Support from colleagues motivated staff to be more active and to sustain their participation.
  • Senior management were supportive in changing the culture across the organisation and many managers led participation in challenges.
  • Strong support from the Chief Officer led to a culture of activity.
  • The workplace champion has capacity to undertake the role and has made a significant impact through the coordination, promotion and engagement of staff in activities.

What was the main reason the organisation got involved in Workplace Challenge?

The Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has a strong organisational interest in physical activity, not just for its staff but as part of its commissioning role. The CCG plays a central role in the Healthy Liverpool Programme in conjunction with Liverpool City Council, who together decided that physical activity is a priority. This public-facing focus on physical activity is echoed by a strong organisational commitment in encouraging staff in the CCG to be active.

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

The CCG signed up to the Workplace Challenge in January 2016 and took part in the Walk to Rio challenge organised by Merseyside Sports Partnership the local County Sports Partnership (CSP). This was a challenge where the organisation aimed to log enough steps to cover the distance from Liverpool to Rio and was enthusiastically taken up by the staff.

Since the initial challenge, the CCG have signed up for every challenge the CSP put forward, and instigated some of their own ideas. These included a challenge to try five Olympic sports in September 2016, (that led to people playing volleyball in the office at lunchtime); Friday running groups; and participation in a Business Games event with other organisations across the city.

Before joining the Workplace Challenge, the CCG tended to be more focused on encouraging staff to take part in activities after work. However, since joining the Workplace Challenge they regularly encourage staff to be more active, stand more and sit less, and go out at lunchtime. They now have a:

  • Rounders team,
  • Running group,
  • Tai Chi group,
  • Knitting Group,
  • Other ad-hoc activities that take place on site like Dance, Zumba, and Yoga.

The CCG also entered 13 teams of mixed sports (running, dragon boating, tennis, karting, poker, netball, touch rugby, open water swimming, badminton, cycling, golf, bowling) into the 2016 European Corporate Games and finished 16th overall out of over 40 organisations:

With all the challenges, additional activities and competitions such as running groups, step challenges, team challenges, tournaments and games; the Workplace Challenge website is used as the hub where people log all their combined activities and earn points for themselves and the organisation. This goal is what makes the programme sustainable and encourages people to regularly log their activities.

What did employees like about the Workplace Challenge?

Although this aimed to be a corporate challenge bringing the organisation together, it also seemed to reveal some healthy inter-departmental competition:

"There'd be conversations in the corridor, 'we've got this many steps', and we'd done it by department as well so although the overall aim was Walk to Rio, it created some friendly competition and we were motivated to do more steps by regularly walking up and down the stairs."

CCG Team member

This had become infectious across the CCG, with the notion of logging activities and encouraging each other to be as active as possible really permeating into the culture of the organisation. Interviewees talked of conversations in the corridors, or in Monday morning meetings, about how many steps they had got and how far the organisation was on the leaderboard.

Staff mentioned that Friday morning meetings contain a regular item on physical activity updates and how the organisation is doing against other organisations on the wider leaderboard. This official approach combined with informal chats meant that there is a positive 'buzz' about activity, with bosses even taking teams out for walks or people doing 'plank' exercises in the office. The Chief Officer said that she thought that was what 'brings an organisation alive'.

The senior staff noted that the challenge provided just the right amount of flexibility as it was set up to recognise individual activity that people might do at the weekend and evenings, as well as providing a framework for workplace-based activities. The competitive aspect seems to be used appropriately too, as it motivates most people to 'have a go' and try to beat themselves or their colleagues or other workplaces.

"I've never been in a workplace where there's such a feeling of, generating a buzz between people, being active collaboratively. It makes you want to do it, it makes you think 'oh you know what I'm not going to take my car from A to B, I'm going to walk it and get my steps up' and that is motivational."

CCG team member

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

There was a universal feeling among the staff that Workplace Challenge had a:

  • Positive impact on morale
  • Created strong team spirit

The senior managers in the CCG who were highly committed to the Challenge, recognised the multiple benefits of an active workforce:

"In terms of staff morale, feeling good about coming into work and a positive sense of working in the organisation, I think it does a lot for that. The knock on benefits of that are about impact on staff sickness levels, motivation and absenteeism."

CCG Chief Officer – Katherine Sheerin

Overall, the Workplace Challenge played a major role and is the catalyst for much other activity.

"I think the Workplace Challenge has been the umbrella and driver of everything else that we've done. It's opened up our minds to other activities to get involved in."

Workplace Champion – Dianna Mannhart

Karen's Story

Karen works in the CCG and has a busy job and home life looking after young children. She had been thinking of trying to become more active for some time but could never really find the time, so she took the opportunity of the Step Challenge as a way to get involved:

"There was already in my head a little bit of a 'I need to do something' so when the Step Challenge came I thought, 'I can do this dead easily.'"

She found that the nature of the challenge meant she was trying to find ways to be more active in the working day, for example walking up stairs, making the effort to walk to talk to people in the office, and going out at lunchtime. She particularly enjoyed the team aspect of the Challenge; although she enjoys sport she is not particularly motivated by competition but enjoys working with others to reach a goal:

"I am a bit competitive, that's not what really inspires me with the Step Challenge, it's about being part of a team, it's almost like being part of movement."

The impact of the Challenge also extends beyond the Workplace, into Karen's home life:

"It was going beyond the workplace as well and I now see the benefits with my girls at home where we walk to the shops more, do some dancing in the house to do more steps."

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

  • Strong commitment to physical activity and the challenge from senior management
  • Organisational commitment to culture change and creating a positive environment where staff can incorporate physical activity into their daily lives
  • The Chief Officer of the CCG was highly supportive which translated into strong support for staff who want to spend time during the working day being active, and a strong culture of activity
  • Support for the workplace champion to spend up to one day a week specifically for workplace physical activity promotion
  • Having a popular and enthusiastic workplace champion to lead the programme
  • Offering inclusive and fun activities and challenge that appeal to as many people as possible

"The senior management have been very supportive and some of them have been leading the challenges, creating some informal competition between teams."

CCG team member

"In terms of staff morale and feeling good about coming into work, and a positive sense of working in the organisation, I think it does a lot for that, because you've got the individual challenges but the team challenges as well and it gives people a focus and something very positive to talk about that isn't just about work."

CCG Chief Officer – Katherine Sheerin