Throwing a company health fair is a fantastic way to launch new employee wellness initiatives, raise awareness about health issues, and generally show your employees you care about their well-being! A well-run health fair offers employees a unique corporate perk that benefits both the company and the employees. Of course, not all health fairs are created equally … Especially now when many companies are considering a remote workforce long-term.
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The importance of having a great plan is probably a no-brainer, but it can’t be emphasized enough! However, you can take the pain out of planning by using a ready-made checklist as your guide. Why reinvent the wheel? Grab a free copy of this handy checklist we created and get going!
Writing on LinkedIn, health and wellness consultant Kathy Nash brings up an important point:
“Unfortunately, many health fair organizers do not clearly define the goals and objectives for their event. As a result, the health fairs become too generic and superficial to provide participants with meaningful information and resources for making changes in their lives.”
What are your specific goals? And how can you measure the success of your health fair? Answering those questions will go a long way toward helping you make smart planning decisions.
Choosing a theme for your health fair will not only help you market it, but will help you focus in on the kinds of activities and sponsors you want to include. You can always go with a national monthly health observance like American Heart Month (February) or National Physical Fitness and Sports Month (May). Or, for a different approach, check out some of the fun ideas from Healthwise Health Fairs, like:
“Insurance companies, local gyms, and health organizations are no-brainers,” writes Greg Fox at Incorporate Massage, a national corporate massage provider. But there’s a whole world of ideas out there. “Get your local bike shops involved. Invite the fire department (big hit with the kids), and consider holding your event around co-sponsored, health-minded activities like bike races, marathons, relay races, etc.”
Here’s their starter list of ideas to consider incorporating into your health fair:
Of course, we also have to add one awesome category to this list …
Incorporate Massage offers this excellent last tip about vendors: “Once you’ve identified your vendors and sponsors, make sure you extend your invitations well in advance. And plan for cancellations.”
Planning a virtual or hybrid health fair? Check out our new post on how to throw a successful virtual health fair in 5 steps.
In their guide to planning an employee health fair, Independence Blue Cross (ICP) points out that goodies like incentives and raffle items are a great way to help build participation and motivation. They suggest considering items that are health-related and/or support the theme of your health fair. Ask vendors who are participating in the health fair if they can donate an incentive/raffle item!
Our favorite raffle items are Maui Jim or SPY Sunglasses.
A couple of ICP's ideas for incorporating raffles into your fair:
To encourage participation in the health fair, provide each participant with a card or “passport” to be stamped or checked off by each vendor he or she visits. After a participant has visited a predetermined number of booths and his or her card is validated, he or she is eligible for a free gift or eligible to enter his or her name in a prize drawing.
At registration, provide participants with raffle tickets that they can place in individual raffle drawings. Prizes can be raffled off throughout the day to provide excitement and continuous participation, or at the end of the event to allow each participant an equal opportunity to win.
Speaking of participation ...
The health fair is a great place to recognize and encourage employees who are really participating in your regular wellness initiatives. Give some kind of recognition/crown/award to employees that are actively participating in wellness programs -- and encourage the rest to do the same!
Yes, this is a place where you could get lost for days. But it’s also a source of really fun and creative ideas. So set aside a block of time to go Pin-hunting! Just search “health fair ideas” and get inspired by ideas like this DIY Fitness Ball:
Photo via MakingHealthierDecisions.com
And this cool idea for how to demonstrate the amount of sugar in everyday beverages (YIKES):
Photo via techlightspeed.com
The Moda Health health fair planning guide points out that hands-on learning really enhances awareness. Some of their excellent ideas include:
Healthy cooking demos are also awesome, and we can say from experience that free food is always a major hit!
With any of these activities, ask if your vendor has freebies. Freebies are great incentives for participants to come to your event.
Ask vendors to bring attention-grabbing displays and activities to engage your employees. We love coming up with fun and eye-catching ways to draw people in and entertain while informing. Other vendors will too!
Health fairs are a great time for announcing company fitness challenges.
SnackNation offers an excellent guide on how to create a killer office fitness challenge in 4 weeks or less. For example, they share,corporate wellness company Fitbug institute a daily wall sit challenge where employees increase the duration of their wall sits by 10 seconds each day, going until the last person remains standing. They write: “This serves as a fun fitness challenge idea that gets the whole office involved, and is a great way to get the competitive juices flowing!”
It can be hard to put down “work work” in order to go to a work event -- we get it! That’s why making attendance a required activity can actually be a gift to your employees.
If you have a really big company, we recommend signing specific time so that all employees have the chance to attend, but stagger attendance so it doesn’t get too crowded, or have too many lulls throughout the day.
Chances are, even if you implement sign-ups ahead of time, there are going to be some lines at certain booths and offerings. And that’s OK! Think of ways to entertain participants while they wait, from setting up video screens, to hiring roving massage therapists for hand massages. You could also put together a portable “photo booth” with fun props and a digital camera, and appoint a couple of people to work the room taking photos.
This photo booth kit on Amazon.com comes with fun chalkboard signs -- use them to write healthy messages!
Of course, a health fair’s success is in large part measured by the number of enthusiastic attendees. In our recent blog post about a report showing that HR doesn’t communicate enough with their teams, we offered our tips for a multi-channeled communication approach. Putting on a great health fair gives you a great way to add to the perks at work you offer employees, make sure to promote it every way you can so you get as many employees as possible engaged and involved.
Some ideas outside of email announcements: