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Other Ideas to Consider

Looking for more ways to improve your stairwells? If your budget allows, you may want to work with an interior designer or color consultant to help you create the right "feel" for your stairwells. If not, consider the following ideas.

Physical Alterations to the Stairwell

  • Adding carpet and rubber treading will increase safety and make your stairwell more inviting.
  • Use creative lighting (e.g., track lighting, incandescent lighting, or halogen lighting).
  • Create theme stairwells (e.g., transport stair users to a Hawaiian beach or tropical rainforest during their trip up or down the stairs, or make your own cartoon and have a frame or two per floor).
  • Create a catchy rhyme with several lines. Put the first line of the rhyme on the first floor, the second line on the second floor, etc. One would have to travel all the way to the top to read the entire rhyme!
  • Include an electronic message board.
  • Add footsteps that lead from the elevators to the stairs and have a message spelled out along the way.
  • Post arrows showing the way to the stairs.
  • Create a "fitness zone" inside the stairwell: "You are entering the Fitness Zone."
  • Put numbers on the doors to let users know which floor they're on.
  • Start at bottom floor and give each stair a number so that users can easily track their progress.
  • Allow users to add their signatures to each floor creating a graffiti wall.


Incentives can be a great way to encourage people to use the stairs. Use your focus groups, or what ever method you are using to gather information about the signs, colors, and artwork to find out what kinds of incentives, within policy regulations, employees in your office would appreciate.

  • Make it seem as if users are climbing some fixed point such as Mount Everest or a local landmark. On each flight, show them a "map" of where they are.
  • Hold drawings among stairwell users for prizes, if such incentives are permitted. A kick-off event could be held with a "grand re-opening" of your stairwell. Another idea to consider is holding a contest where employees keep track of the number of flights they walk in a week or a month. Award prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place! If prizes aren't an option, have a contest where the winner may select the music or art in the stairwells for the next week or month.
  • Have a general contest for slogans to increase stair use. These slogans can be incorporated into your artwork and motivational signs. Be sure to note who's slogan is on which sign!

What You Can Do


  • Increase AWARENESS: Make people aware of the stair options. For example, hang signs by the elevators saying, "Have you thought of taking the stairs today?" Remind people of the health benefits associated with physical activity, and appeal to the environmentally conscious by pointing out how much energy is used in running an elevator.
  • Enhance SKILLS: Build employee self-confidence. Help those who are willing to take the stairs, but who tire easily or have other barriers to overcome to successfully use the stairs on a regular basis. Employees don't have to be able to do 5 or 10 flights at a time. Provide motivation and support for taking the stairs even once a day, one flight a day, and build from there. This is where counting the stairs, marking how far one has gone on the stairs, and other such skill-building interventions are appropriate.
  • Provide OPPORTUNITIES FOR TRIAL BEHAVIOR: Offer opportunities for people to try using the stairs without ridicule or experiencing "failure." Perhaps sponsor a "use the stairs for a day" campaign or make it fun and give people incentives and rewards for using the stairs for one flight, one day, or for one week.
  • Create a SUPPORTIVE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT: If your stairwells were particularly unpleasant before your renovation, it may take some time to change people's attitude about the stairwells. Talk about the stairwell in a positive manner, and make it seem like a fun place. Let the stairwell be a happy, fun place to be by providing employees with encouragement, incentives, and messages that support this perception.
  • Create a SUPPORTIVE PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT: Clean, paint, and decorate the stairwell; add music and other physical intervention ideas to make the stairwell a pleasant place to be. Commit to maintaining the stairwell so it always looks its best!

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