How Walmart and Thrive Global Are Putting Well-being at the Center of the Associate Experience

We’re thrilled to announce 2021’s Thrive Challenge Grand Champions.

Grand Champion Winner, Sunday Oguntoyinbo, with fellow associates in Bradenton, FL
Grand Champion Winner, Sunday Oguntoyinbo, with fellow associates in Bradenton, FL

In May 2020, as people around the world were still beginning to build new routines and adjust to the reshaped world of the pandemic, Walmart and Thrive Global launched a strategic initiative to help associates and customers take care of their well-being and build emotional and mental resilience.

At the heart of our efforts is our shared belief in people — and in their ability to not only improve their own lives, but to inspire others by taking small steps. And this year, our commitment to supporting people has an added significance, as we recognize the resilience of Walmart associates during a particularly difficult and uncertain time. As we recently observed World Mental Health Day, we are celebrating those who have made a difference in their own lives and communities through the Thrive Challenge.  

The Thrive Challenge invites people to make small, better choices for 21 days using the Thrive app in whatever area of life they want to prioritize. After 21 days, they share their story to inspire others. Since Walmart launched the Challenge, nearly 350,000 Walmart associates and customers have made more than 60 million better choices. And every year, the Thrive Challenge awards 180 inspiring individuals with cash prizes from a pool of $1 million.

Now, we are thrilled to celebrate four extraordinary Thrive Challenge Grand Champions who are inspiring others to improve their lives, one Microstep at a time. They are Walmart associates Sunday Oguntoyinbo (Bradenton, FL), Sherin Thomas (Hornell, N.Y.), Anna Masse (Bentonville, AR) and Arvis Abban, a nurse with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Fredericksburg, VA. Together, these Grand Champions have been awarded $100,000 for the positive impact they’re making in their lives and the lives of their communities.

Here is the story of just one of our Grand Champions: In 2017, Sunday moved to the United States from Nigeria, where his wife and two children still live. “My dream is to bring my family to America so we can start a new life all together,” Sunday says. Despite difficulties he has faced — including not seeing his children for four years — Sunday has been a force for good in his community, from volunteering at his church to sharing on Facebook the changes he’s made in his life through Microsteps: walking every day, prepping healthy meals and starting each day with a moment of gratitude. “I encourage everyone I know to start the Thrive Challenge,” he says. “I tell people: ‘I’ve transformed my life, and you can too.’”

It was challenging to select from amazing associates, and the Thrive Challenge Grand Champions embody a spirit of supporting and inspiring at a time when connecting with others has been so challenging. With their infectious enthusiasm for bringing changes into their lives, they are creating communities at Walmart and beyond.

We started with store associates, and to accelerate the shift to well-being across Walmart teams, we’ve launched the Thrive Well-being Journey to help thousands of senior leaders, managers, and others working from home to equip themselves with the tools to create a culture where self-care and mental health are foundational to the associate experience. Now, the Thrive Challenge and the Well-being Journeys have also been launched in Canada. 

Another of our shared beliefs is that these changes shouldn’t just happen in formal ways. They need to be built into the daily experience. That’s why another key part of our partnership has been reaching people on a human level in the moments that matter. 

For example, when the Walmart global people team gathers for team-wide meetings, the sessions always begin with a “well-being minute.” This is an opportunity for team members to share what they’re doing to focus on their physical, emotional or financial well-being. It’s inspiring and educational to hear some of the tips and Microsteps helping associates reduce stress and take better care of themselves — whether through short, de-stressing breaks, drinking more water, walking the dog or yoga, meditation and spending quality time with their friends and family. When these tips are shared in the Thrive app, associates inspire each other across the organization and become role models for well-being and resilience. 

In honor of World Mental Health Day, we’re looking forward to the upcoming Walmart associate town hall on Oct. 19 where Walmart associates will gather virtually to hear more about well-being, tips to make mental health a priority, and have the opportunity to ask Arianna and the Thrive team questions about physical, emotional and financial well-being.

The past 18 months and counting have underscored that a company is only as resilient as its people. Employee expectations have evolved. In a period of great reassessment of work and life, there is an opportunity to create workplaces where well-being isn’t just a benefit, but part of the daily experience, where we inspire each other to do things we never would have thought possible. It has been an amazing journey, and we’re just getting started.

Anna Masse, David Glass Technology Building; Bentonville, AR

Arvis Abban, Walmart Customer; Fredericksburg, VA
Sherin Thomas, Store #2326; Hornell, N.Y
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