Movember at Symbiote

Published Dec 14, 2020, 1:20 PM
Written by Rachel Kelly

How we used a human-centred approach to deliver a strategy that saw a 167% increase in staff participation. 


Every year members of our team come together to participate in Movember to change the face of men's mental health. And we felt that after the year we’ve all had what better time to come together to discuss important health issues facing Men across the world today.

What is Movember?

Movember is an annual event that aims to raise awareness and save lives by starting important conversations about issues impacting men around the world. From mental health to suicide prevention as well as prostate and testicular cancer, Mo brothers and sisters are encouraged to get involved by growing a MO or Mo your own way by walking or running.

Despite the challenges of 2020 we thought now more than ever, it’s important to come together and decided to set ourselves the goal of increasing participant engagement levels across the business.

Movember 2019 Tile 02

We started with research

Human-centred design is at the heart of everything we do at Symbiote, so our Wellness team set out to conduct 16, 30 minute 1on1 interviews, asking a broad range of questions including:

  • What does wellness mean to you?
  • What motivates you to take care of your wellbeing?
  • What are the common barriers to participating in activities?

Over 480 minutes of interviews were conducted and finding that came through loud and clear was that our people have a diverse range of needs, what motivates one person does not motivate that other. We realised that we need to deliver a more inclusive approach to workplace wellness in order to get more people actively participating.  

Key findings

Key findings

“I want to do more creative activities but it doesn’t seem to be offered.”

Participation activities often include physical exercise, however many of our staff prefer participating in creative activities such as playing an instrument, drawing or slower activities such as meditating or pilates. 

How might we broaden the range of activities to make it easier for staff to participate in Movember?


“Using KM’s as the measurement is inaccessible, I don't go that far.” 

Measuring activities solely in kilometres is a barrier to entry as some participants feel they need to be covering large distances to participate.

How might we reconsider what measurements we use in order for more people to be able to participate?


“Strava App seems intense and a bit intimidating.” 

It became clear early on in the research that Stava App was a barrier to entry for many, as they felt it was a tool made for athletes doing intense physical exercise.

How might we make it easier for staff to record their activities?

Data informing strategy

Data informing strategy

In the past Movember has focused on two key areas: Growing a MO and MOVING more, this year we decided to change the rules and introduced a third activity pillar in the hope we could increase participation numbers.

Our Movember 2021 strategy included:

1. Introducing the concept ‘Do more of what they love’

The research highlighted that not everyone felt motivated to participate in moving or growing a mo and that for some pursuing more mindful or creative pursuits was just as rewarding as the physical. By introducing the concept ‘Do more of what you love’ our goal was to remove the barriers of entry and increase engagement.

2. Broadening the measurement used to measure goals.

The research told us that activities that were measured in kilometres only felt inaccessible so we encouraged staff to use a variety of measurements to record their activities. 

3. Opening up and discussing potential barriers to reaching the goal.

Lack of motivation was a big factor for many as the stress of COVID-19 restrictions meant that there was a general sense of fatigue in the business. Noting down and discussing individual concerns such as “I may fall off the wagon and lose motivation” enabled staff to play more of a supporting role with each other helping them get to the finish line.

The outcome

Symbiote Movember 04

Participation increased

Introducing 'Do more of what you love' opened up the possibilities for team members to engage and guess what; we’re thrilled to say that we had over 167% increase in participation this Movember.

Symbiote Movember 05

Activities varied

The variety of activities people participated in was rich with diversity, with over 10 different types of activities ranging from learning a classical piano piece to wave pool conditioning. 

Symbiote Movember 06

Measurements diversified

This year 4 different units of measurement were used by staff to track and measure their participation from session numbers to kilometres, hours and minutes. We also redefined what tools staff could use to measure their participation which included a group spreadsheet, Strava and the Movember site.

The secret sauce

Finding fun ways to engage the team during lockdown has been a challenge, we are lucky that we have an in-house quiz master (thanks Chris!) who is able to facilitate such sessions. Bringing the team together learning about marvelous mo’s and interesting facts is a great way to bring the team together in an online form, have a laugh, share experiences and learn together.


In true 2020 style our take on Movember this year was anything but normal, instead it was deeply connected to research and our strategy and approach informed by the needs of our staff. Not only did we increase participation by 167% and diversify the activities and measurements used, we also learnt a fundamental lesson in that a human-centred approach to any problem is always a good place to start.