As an employer, you know why supporting and maintaining employee health is important. You know the organizational problems it can solve (like lowering healthcare costs, absenteeism and low morale) and the benefits it can provide (like attracting and retaining high-quality talent, increasing productivity and ultimately, a financial ROI).
But when it comes to knowing exactly how to support and maintain employee health, things get a little more complicated…mostly because there are so many options! It can be difficult to sort through all the noise and be sure you’re choosing the right options for your organization.
One option that isn’t as common (but we think should be), is an employee wellness fair (an interactive of broader wellness in the workplace). In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about wellness fairs, including:
- What is the purpose of a wellness fair?
- What is the difference between a wellness fair and a health fair?
- How long does it take to plan a health or wellness fair?
- What should be included in a wellness fair/health fair?
- Are wellness fairs/health fairs effective?
- How long should a wellness fair/health fair last?
- What are best practices for hosting a virtual health/wellness fair?
- 3 ideas to incorporate into your health or wellness fair
What is the purpose of a wellness fair?
A wellness fair is a program provided by an employer to help promote and educate employees on health and wellness. Although wellness fairs are typically planned and hosted by an employer, an employer can also pay for employees to attend a wellness fair, conference or convention. In this article, we’ll be focusing on employers hosting their own wellness fair.
Many employers see wellness fairs as an essential part of their strategy. Wellness fairs can be a great approach to…
- Reducing the burden of chronic health conditions on the company’s healthcare costs
- Educating employees on relevant preventative healthcare
- Giving employees the support and resources they need to maintain good health
Compiling educational health content into a resource library for employees to access at any time is a great way to provide support, but it doesn’t always guarantee engagement. Because wellness fairs take the form of a social event with face to face conversations, they are distinctly engaging in nature. Employees are more likely to be engaged at a live event, and stay motivated afterward.
What is the difference between a wellness fair and health fair?
In short, a health fair focuses more on physical health and traditional healthcare, while a wellness fair touches on various pillars of wellness; including mental, environmental, social and financial, in addition to physical.
For example, a health fair may include:
- Basic healthcare education and resource-sharing
- Biometric screenings and HRAs
- Chair massages
- CPR and first aid demonstrations
- Exercise techniques and equipment demonstrations
- Smoking cessation program information and resources
- Preventative care for common health conditions like; diabetes, high cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.
- Nutrition education and healthy cooking tutorials
A wellness fair is meant to educate employees on the practices, resources and tools that exist to improve and maintain their overall well-being, or specific areas of wellness. Wellness fairs can be a more inclusive approach to promoting areas of wellness that commonly affect an employees’ performance in the workplace.
Activities at a wellness fair commonly include:
- Treating and developing healthy coping strategies for mental health conditions like; depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc.
- Education about the effects that stress can have on the body and techniques for preventing or alleviating stress
- Yoga, mindfulness and breathing techniques
- Team building, camaraderie and conflict management exercises and coaching
How long does it take to plan a health or wellness fair?
Planning a wellness fair is an extensive process that requires a lot of time, patience and research. The goal of a wellness fair is often to increase workplace wellness and create awareness about certain health conditions. The most important first step of planning a wellness fair is understanding the unique interests and needs of your employees. Ensuring that the activities, products and information presented are all well-aligned with employees interests will contribute greatly to the success of your event.
Typically, a well-designed and executed wellness fair takes about an average of six weeks to plan. Ultimately, the time needed to effectively plan your event is dependent on the size, scope and desired outcome.
What should be included in a health or wellness fair?
It’s always a great idea to make sure you have a firm understanding of the specific needs and interests of people in your organization. The best way to collect information about what your employees need is by looking at an overview of your organization’s biometric screening results. This will tell you exactly what health conditions employees currently have or are at risk of developing.
As for collecting information about employees’ interests, pulse surveys are the best way to find out things like:
- Their current lifestyle and how it affects their health and wellbeing
- What wellness activities they currently enjoy or are interested in trying
- What wellness activities they are opposed to and why
- What aspects of wellness they would like to learn more about or improve
Some aspects you may want to consider including in your wellness fair:
- The venue and its location
- Activities attendees can partake in
- Speakers & presentations (& how much time to allot for each)
- Event sponsors & how you will approach them
- What will you offer in return for their sponsorship?
- Food and beverage
- Will you offer prizes or incentives for attendance? If so what will they be?
Need help getting started with pulse surveys?
Let us take that off your hands! Our platform offers pre-made, customizable survey templates for dozens of topics, from DEI to Employee Satisfaction. It even automates administering pulse surveys and analyzing data into aggregated reports.
Are wellness fairs/health fairs effective?
The success of your wellness fair depends on how well you’re able to strategically plan, market and execute it. That being said, here are a few things you can do to help ensure fruitful results for both your wellness fair and your employees’ well-being:
Prep for planning:
1. Require all employees to get a biometric screening within at least the last 6 months and submit their completed form by a certain date, before you begin planning
2. Compile all screening results into a report that shows:
- The calculated average of your entire population for each biometric (blood pressure, cholesterol levels, BMI, etc.)
- The overall most common and pressing health conditions and risks
- How much these conditions and risks currently costs your organization
3. Use the data from employee biometric screening results to create a survey (or find a template) that asks employees relevant questions about:
- Their lifestyle
- Their knowledge of health and wellness in general
- Their knowledge of their current health conditions
- Their knowledge of how to improve/maintain their personal health and well-being
- Which activities and treatments (relevant to their specific health needs) they are most interested in or willing to try
- What assistance or resources they have and do not have that are needed to treat or prevent their relevant health conditions
4. Research how wellness fairs are typically run to find good examples and elements you’d like to include. (which you’re doing right now…so you’re off to a great start!)
Plan for success
Using the biometric screening data, pulse survey results and good examples you found…
- Set a budget
- Define areas do you want to focus on
- Choose relevant activities, vendors and speakers
- Secure the location, vendors, sponsors, speakers, etc.
- Set OKRs — what is the long-term ROI you want out of this event?
Promote the event
Use enticing descriptions and visuals to clearly communicate and highlight the details you know they’ll be excited about! Knowing what to expect and seeing aspects they can look forward to will help ensure everyone goes into the fair with an open mind and is more likely to be engaged.
Methods of communication:
- Email blast
- Create a chat space or channel
- Hang flyers around the workplace
- Complementary food, drinks & gifts
How long should a health/wellness fair last?
The duration of your wellness/health fair is dependent upon the goal of the event, the amount of people attending, amount of vendors, activities and speakers or presentations. The average recommended duration of a wellness fair is 3-4 hours, but depending on the scope and desired outcome, it could be an all day or multi-day event.
What are best practices for hosting a virtual health/wellness fair?
Any type of virtual event is difficult to get people to attend. The second challenge after getting people to attend, is getting them excited and engaged. Here are a few tips and best practices when it comes to successfully hosting a virtual health/wellness fair:
- Have a live chat for people to ask questions
- Have interesting presentations and enthusiastic speakers
- Make presentations interactive by asking attendees questions throughout
- Let employees know that prizes will be given throughout the fair or offer incentives to everyone who attends.
One advantage of going virtual with your health or wellness fair is that you can collect great data from things like email open rates, chat logs, and webinar registration/attendee data.
3 Ideas to Incorporate in your Health or Wellness Fair
1. Interactive presentations and engaging speakers
- Healthy meal prep and cooking demonstrations with nutrition coaches and local chefs
- The science of stress and stress reduction techniques lead by mental health professionals or wellness coaches
- Signs, prevention methods and treatment options for depression, anxiety and other mental conditions
- Healthy conflict strategies and team building in the workplace with voluntary role playing
2. Incorporate vendors and activities that align with your goals and employees’ interests.
A few examples of common vendors and activities include:
CPR and First Aid certification
Virtual CPR training
Information on heart disease and warning signs of heart attack, stroke, or cardiac arrest
Treatment information, support, and research
You can also invite local health and wellness professionals like; massage therapists, yoga instructors, wellness coaches, personal trainers, counselors or therapists to:
Discounted membership and trial sessions
Lead guided meditation sessions
Teach coping strategies for difficult emotions and circumstances
Teach stretching and massage techniques for stress and tension reduction
3. Incentives and prizes to offer attendees
- Personal training sessions
- Complementary fitness facility memberships
- Free massages or acupuncture sessions
- One-on-one coaching sessions for things like
- Mental wellness
- Financial literacy and wellness
- Leadership and team building skills
- Fitness equipment (things like bikes, weights, yoga mat, etc.)
- Healthy meal plan subscriptions like…
- 1 year paid subscription for mental health apps like…
- Additional PTO or vacation time
- HSA contributions
- Gift cards