Planning a wellness event is one thing. Getting enough people to show up, well, sometimes that’s a whole different matter.
In an ideal world, everyone at your company would sign up the moment the invitation for a wellness or fitness event makes the rounds. In reality, it’s sometimes the opposite.
In fact, one of the most frequent questions we get asked by companies who are just starting their wellness program or who have signed up for their first event is: “what incentives should we offer employees to participate?”
The short answer is “it depends!”
As we’ve discussed before, every company is different and how you get people to come out really depends on your own unique culture at the office.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some key points to consider!
Last week we discussed some powerful tips for upping participation at your next wellness event. This time around, we’ve put together a couple of key points about offering your employees incentives to participate.
We’ve also put together three of our favorite incentives down below, but first, here’s a couple of general points to keep in mind when framing your incentives to recruit an awesome team:
Image Above: Example of an awesome team - Buffini & Company at the San Diego Fit Company Challenge
How to Frame your Incentives
Small incentives go a long way.
First, let’s dispel a myth: you don’t need to brainstorm something big and magnificent to get people enrolled in a wellness program. Sometimes the right nudge, however small, does the trick and can get people interested right off the bat.
Think about it: wellness events and fitness challenges have some qualities that sell themselves. They contribute to your overall health and they can be a heck of a lot of fun.
We’re lucky to be living in an age when most people are health conscious and don’t shy away from a little exercise or wellness. Because of this, oftentimes the simple benefits of “it’s good for your health” or “it’ll be fun” are enough to get people interested.
Always remember that health and fun are themselves powerful motivators. Keeping your focus on these two core benefits will give you a strong foundation when planning further or future incentives to get people excited and involved.
Ensure that your incentives are team-focused.
Wellness events like our Fit Company Challenge are all about bringing teams together. The last thing anyone wants is to build rivalry instead of camaraderie.
Trust us, you don’t want to offer any incentives that could pit one person against another. For instance, offering a sizeable prize to the person who comes in first in a race or who counts the most steps in a month, but leaves the rest of the team out, might cause division and dissent. There’s nothing wrong with a small prize (i.e. a certificate suitable for framing/bragging) for a top competitor, but the focus should be on the team.
When planning your incentives, make sure that whatever you offer keeps your colleagues working together. Shared goals or the promise of a reward for the entire team can go along way to getting more people involved.
If you’re doing a step challenge, think about offering the entire team something if they meet their target. If it’s a race, treat everyone who shows up and participates the same in the victory lunch afterwards.
Don’t be afraid of setting milestones.
If the budget for the event is minimal, then start small and work your way up each year. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on the core benefits one year, and then ramping it up with more incentives the following year as the event picks up steam and participation.
You can even set milestones for participation in the lead-up to the event itself. For instance, if the entire group shows up to 9 out of 12 lead-up workouts, then provide everyone with a free lunch the week before the event! You can also couple this with a lunch or incentive after the event for everyone who participated and showed up on the event day.
How to use your incentives?
When incentivizing your employees, be sure to keep the event front and center, and mention the incentives only to give people a little extra push.
If your announcement mentions prizes for participants before telling everyone what the event is, it’s a safe bet that the real benefits of the event (fun and health!) might fall to the wayside.
For instance, if your office starts promising $100 gift cards for all participants, participants will most likely join just for the prizes and not for the other benefits.
We’d like to think that it’s better to get fewer sign-ups for the right reasons, than a ton of people joining for the wrong ones and build the team over time.
Our Top Picks for Incentives?
Now that we’ve covered the foundations, here are some concrete examples of the kinds of incentives you can offer (which also happen to be our top three picks).
Provide team lunches and happy hours.
There’s nothing like a little free food and a couple of tables pushed close together to get people talking and having a good time. Having a couple of get togethers before the event can build team spirit and encourage others to join the fun.
It’s also great to hold one after the event. That way it will give your employees something to rally behind and let them celebrate. Buy everyone involved some pizza, Chipotle’s or whatever your office jam is.
Take a couple of afternoons off.
If your company organizes team training sessions, why not take an afternoon off and drag your squadmates away from their desks? Having a session during company hours can facilitate getting everyone in the same place (assuming you all work at the same office).
Getting outside when the weather is nice can also help break up some of the monotony of the work week, and destress your employees. If things are busy at the office, it’s often hard to get motivated in the evenings to work out or meet up with the team. Dedicating office time for the event also shows your team that the company is invested in their wellbeing.
Cover their entrance fees.
Everyone likes free stuff, and most people don’t mind working a little to get it. To make sure they put in the mileage and show up on event day, pay 50% off the initial cost and them reimburse them the other 50% after they show up and complete the event.
Bonus: Ask the Team
Don’t be afraid of getting a little input from your team. Holding a meeting and asking what would make them excited about the event can provide some useful feedback. Of course, it helps to come prepared with a budget and a few ideas to fall back on in case the incentives your team proposes get a little wild & excessive!
Summing Things Up
In summary, sometimes teams need a little extra push to get them to sign up for wellness events. Often, the core values of health and fun can go a long way to getting people involved. However, don’t be afraid of offering a little something extra. Be inclusive and let your team know you’re looking after them. You’ll see the difference it makes for turnouts come event day, and in the camaraderie it maintains after the event is over.
Yours in wellness,
The FC Squad