In this interview, Mark Goldberg, Latham’s Director of Global Health and Well-Being, discusses the firm’s annual Spring Challenge and how lawyers and staff across the globe engage in the competition year over year.
What is Latham’s Spring Challenge?
The Spring Challenge is an annual global event where our offices compete against each other to see which can be the most active. There are many layers to the Challenge, but at its core, colleagues track their steps through wearable devices, or log other forms of physical and mental well-being activity that is then converted into steps.
What started in 2009 as a simple goal to inspire colleagues to incorporate more movement into their day has evolved into an annual, month-long physical activity challenge with thousands of Latham lawyers and staff participating each year. The Challenge focuses on overall well-being, complete with firm-paid activity trackers, creative local office events, and more. While a little friendly competition always ensues, it is really about creating an environment where we can encourage and support one another while getting active.
What are some ways you foster engagement and participation?
Over the years, our offices have come up with some unique ideas to get their teams involved and excited. We’ve seen scavenger hunts, wheelbarrow races, plank and sit-up contests, "bubble football," ping pong, bowling, dragon boat races, beach clean-ups, and all manners of hikes and exercise classes, to name a few.
What’s great about the Challenge is that, over the years, it has morphed into a very flexible and inclusive event. Our platform provides a space for all different kinds of participation and activities. While steps are tracked through a wearable device, other activities are converted into steps and are highly encouraged as well — whether that be biking, yoga, weight lifting, horseback riding, gardening, swimming, or even meditation. It allows people to focus on their health in a way that works best for them.
Several Challenges have also tied participation to support for charitable causes. For example, every 5,000 steps (or activity converted to steps) earned in a day will equate to something like planting a tree or a meal provided to a child in need. We have found this is really motivating for colleagues when they know their individual efforts are contributing to a greater good. For example, someone might be at 9,200 steps for the day, and will then take an extra walk around the block in order to hit 10,000 steps to ensure another meal is provided or another tree planted.
In addition to bragging rights, what does the Spring Challenge champion win?
Trust me when I say it’s hard to overestimate how popular those bragging rights are! In addition, the winning office takes possession of our coveted “Bronze Sneaker” trophy.
Tell us more about this Bronze Sneaker.
The Bronze Sneaker is literally a piece of footwear from one of our Latham colleagues that has been bronzed and made into a trophy. It gets passed from one winning office to the next, where it stays until the next Challenge. We are actually on our second trophy. The first was created long ago from an old pair of sneakers donated by one of our associates. But in honor of the competition’s 10th anniversary, we hosted a “Bronze My Sneaker” contest inviting colleagues to share how they made a healthy lifestyle change or accomplished something they were particularly proud of thanks to the Challenge, in hopes of having their sneaker bronzed for a new trophy. A secretary from our Chicago office had a really inspiring story. While she had assumed she was getting a good amount of steps each day, her first Fitbit from the Challenge led her to realize she wasn’t moving nearly as much as she had initially thought. This prompted her to begin walking more, then running, and eventually finishing multiple marathons. That’s what the Spring Challenge is all about — encouraging people to take charge of their health and well-being.
What does it take to pull off a global event of this scale?
We have an amazing team of nearly 100 Latham colleagues who serve as planning team members, regional coordinators, and local office team leaders. They help with everything from promotion, registration, and managing inventory and distributing step-tracking devices, to organizing local events to engage their teams. It truly takes a village, and we appreciate the tremendous effort from these volunteers each year.
How does the Spring Challenge fit into Latham’s larger well-being strategy?
Years ago, the Spring Challenge was actually our first large-scale venture into the well-being space. But right from the start, we realized it was about much more than just tracking steps. It supported our firm culture and the collegiality of Latham that we all love, and fostered engagement among our lawyers and staff across the globe. The Spring Challenge became an important catalyst for the growth of LiveWell Latham — our global health and well-being platform. Today we have a wide array of robust programming and resources to support our colleagues’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being — including our annual Spring Challenge!