One of the biggest problems companies face with wellness events and fitness challenges is ensuring that people sign up and participate. Since these events often focus on teamwork and camaraderie, it’s critical that participants sign up and attend these events for companies to maximize their involvement.
Depending on your company culture, getting colleagues on board for a new wellness event or fitness program can range from being a piece of cake to a serious challenge.
Every company has a pool of employees who are pretty much the core office athletes. They’re the kind of colleagues who work out five times a week and will literally sign up for any event, just say the word. However, most employees are slightly less involved in fitness. While they might jog or go to the gym, they might not consider themselves athletic.
The real challenge is in incentivizing your colleagues who might be more hesitant or who have never really participated in wellness or even gone to the gym before. These colleagues are just as much a part of the team, but might be unfamiliar with or even uncertain about wellness programs.
1) Set yourselves up for success
This might sound like an obvious first step, but it’s worth spending a few moments considering what exactly success looks like at your company. Since wellness events should focus on building teamwork and camaraderie.
Make sure to pick the right event. We’ve written about this before, but it’s always a good reminder to pick a challenge that opens the door for the maximum range of possible participants.
For instance, a weight loss challenge might seem really appealing for some employees, but likely only for those who have been trying to lose weight. The same goes for more challenging events. If the choice is between a grueling mud run designed to break everyone but the most hardy athletes, or something lighter like a step challenge, going for the latter will definitely increase participation.
Events that scale to the participant’s fitness levels also allow for more participants than ones that do not. That’s one of the main reasons we designed our challenge the way it is. We don’t want anyone blocked from participating and having fun with the rest of their team.
2) Play the long game
Even if an event allows for more people to participate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will the first time around. If this is your first year running an event or taking your company to a challenge and participation seems less than anticipated, don’t fuss over the numbers.
Good events can take time to catch on and that’s completely normal. The first year might have only a few curious participants, but word of mouth does wonders for growing participation organically from year to year.
With that in mind, your company doesn’t have to hit a home run the first time it brings its wellness program to bat. We’ve seen plenty of companies come to our events with just 4 people the first year, but come two years later, and they field 50+ participants.
Give it time and just focus on running the best wellness program you can.
3) Provide the right incentives
The right event can often sell itself, but we shouldn’t take for granted that it will. Sometimes a little extra is needed to get people to sign up.
There’s no one-size-fits all incentive to get people to sign up for wellness events. Every company is different. The important part is knowing your company and its culture and providing them a push that resonates with their wants and needs.
We won’t get too deep into incentives today (that’s the topic for a whole other post), but some of our favorite incentives (and ones that we’ve seen work) include:
- Paying for all or a portion of the event registration. You can make this into a reimbursement after they show up and participate at the event.
- Extra paid time off, such as half-days at the office to go and train together as a team.
- Lunch parties for everyone participating. It can be something hearty and healthy like Panera or even just a greasy pizza day to treat everyone after the event.
For the moment, don’t overthink it. Keep the incentives small and to the point, without letting them overshadow the core benefits of health and fun that the event focuses on.
4) Recruit the right team captains
This is one of the best tricks we’ve learned so far. Having the right people in leadership roles takes a load off the organizer’s shoulders and really helps get different people involved.
When choosing captains, it might seem natural to immediately look for all those super fit people at your office. After all, they’re often fit, passionate and energetic people. However, as good as they are for candidates, they might not be the right fit for every participant.
People who don’t engage in fitness activities on a regular basis might find them intimidating. They might also feel like they’re signing up for something out of their league because the team captain is way more athletic and committed than they are.
The perfect workaround is to select multiple team captains from different pools of your employees. Having a couple of fitness fanatics is great but also include others who might be less fit but still highly social and able to mobilize others.
Having a varied group can help newcomers identify with the captains. They can better identify with other participants and there’s a better chance no one will feel alienated or out of place.
To conclude, no two companies or wellness events are the same. Getting more participation often depends on knowing your company culture, your colleagues and their needs. However, these four core considerations can help take a load of pressure off your recruitment worries.
We’re sure that no matter how the first event goes, that with the right mindset and values in place, there’s only going to be growth from here on out.
Yours in wellness,
The FC Squad