On 11 and 12 July 2015, around 200 Dixons Carphone employees participated in a gruelling ultra-challenge, in which they ran, trekked and walked 100km from Lewknor in Oxfordshire to the Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire.
Of these 200, 12 were part of the organisation’s Average to Awesome (A2A) challenge. Following an application and selection process, those in the A2A team received additional support to help them reach their fitness goals and successfully complete the race. This included custom-fit trainers and a personal training regime devised by Rory Coleman, a Guinness World Record holder with more than 900 marathons and 230 ultra-marathons under his belt.
While this is the second year that the electrical and telecommunications retailer has supported the event, known as the Dixons Carphone Race to the Stones, it is the first year that it introduced wearable technology into the training mix. A Fitbit Surge was given to everyone on the A2A team.
This initiative was driven by Dixons Carphone’s interest in introducing technology into the scheme, an awareness that some of its 27,000 UK- and Ireland-based staff were already using wearable devices for their personal fitness, along with the aim of boosting motivation. Those on the A2A challenge could set up competitions and training groups using the devices, allowing them to encourage one another no matter where they were based. Kesah Trowell, head of corporate and social responsibility (CSR) at Dixons Carphone, says the technology made a noticeable difference and there are plans to use it again next year. “[Participating employees] look fitter, they are fitter, and they’ve got a different mental outlook,” says Trowell.
The organisation also supports employee fitness outside of the A2A challenge, including weekly emails with health, training and nutrition tips, as well as discounts for those wanting to purchase wearable devices. It intends to increase its staff wellness offerings around the event to build upon the success achieved thus far.
The event has also helped to improve employee communication across locations and business functions, an added bonus for the organisation, which was established through the merger of Carphone Warehouse and Dixons Retail in August 2014. Trowell adds: “With the businesses merging, it was really great to get people from different sides of the business together in this great challenge.”