Too often, wellness activities turn out to be a bust. Only a few employees show up, and those that do lack enthusiasm. Typically, the same people show up every time—the ones who are already in shape. The less-fit employees fail to attend because they’re not interested or they’re reluctant to exercise in public.
If that sounds like your company’s activities, you may need to do a little troubleshooting. Here are some potential barriers to successful events and ways to break through them:
Problem: Your employees don’t value fitness.
Solution: Educate your employees on the many benefits of good nutrition and physical activity. If they need more convincing, tantalize them with meaningful incentives (go here for some ideas). Or consider tying your events to charities they value. If many of them have children, host a healthy food potluck to benefit the PTA. If they’re more into animals, take part in a run-walk on behalf of the local animal rescue organization.
Problem: Your events are boring.
Solution: Forty-five percent of employees say their company’s wellness initiatives are dull. Sometimes, administrators aren’t in touch with what activities will interest their workforce. They schedule health fairs when their twenty-something workers would find an ultimate Frisbee contest more fun. Solicit feedback from employees about what they’d like to do.
Another tip: Capitalize on your office culture. Have a friendly interdepartmental rivalry going on? Set up a competition and have the winning team be recognized at a company meeting. Everyone nuts about college basketball? Throw a March Madness-themed event, complete with a free throw shooting contest.
Problem: Events are scheduled at inconvenient times.
Solution: Eighty-six percent of employees say time constraints keep them from participating in corporate wellness initiatives. Hold events on company time, and make it clear that no one’s to be penalized for attending (it helps if top leaders also attend). Host motivational speakers or healthy cooking demos during lunch, and let employees eat as they listen. Have more active events at the end of the day so that no one has to return to the office after working up a sweat. A Friday afternoon “company field day” is a great way to kick off the weekend.
Above all, the key to ensuring participation in wellness events is to know your workforce. How old are they? How knowledgeable are they about wellness? What health problems do they have? What’s their fitness level? What activities do they enjoy? Learning what motivates your employees is the best way to plan activities that will hold their interest and keep them coming back for more.