You know that helping your employees improve their health and stay healthy is important for several reasons. First, they can live better and happier lives. Second, their job performance remains high. Third, your business maintains a solid bottom line. It's a complete win-win for employers and employees. However, knowing how to do that can be daunting. Basic program planning and these 8 tips will help you run a successful company health fair.
Why Have a Company Health Fair?
Setting aside time for employees to spend an hour learning about their own health, as well as community resources, can pay big dividends:
- People can learn about their current health status and possible risks
- Community sources can provide valuable information
- You can create a corporate culture of both fun and motivation
Planning For Success
Get started with your Human Resources Department. Most of the work will reside with HR, but it’s important to get buy-in from the entire company. Organize a small committee with one person from each area to represent the needs of each department.
8 Tips for Planning a Company Health Fair
- Make it accessible. Allow time for employees to visit the health fair. Work with supervisors to find a way where the workflow is maintained, but staff will get at least an hour to take advantage of the day’s schedule.
- Make it fun. Design a simple “passport” that lists the day’s vendors and presentations. As the employees make their way through the exhibits, they get a stamp or signature as proof they were there. A complete passport gets entered into a drawing for prizes: Anything from a free meal (donated by a local restaurant) to a half-day vacation (donated by you) to create an excitement for the event and an extra incentive to participate.
- Make it meaningful. Contact your community college and request nursing students to take blood pressure checks. Ask the company’s healthcare insurance provider to send someone to explain benefits and assist employees in setting up tests that can't be conducted on-site (such as maximal exercise tests). How about inviting a financial company to discuss 401K or retirement options? Asking the Red Cross or Fire Department to teach First Aid or CPR? Getting your company’s Safety Program to let employees practice using a fire extinguisher? There are a lot of options that can be brought in which will be helpful for your employees.
- Make it local. What about Emergency Preparedness? No matter where you live, there are natural hazards: tornadoes, floods, earthquakes. Do your employees know what to do when these situations occur? Invite the Red Cross and utility companies to attend and teach. Invite hospitals and health care systems who marketing representatives to describe classes and programs. Invite daycare facilities who can explain services for employees with children.
- Make it extend beyond the workplace. Invite representatives from local services. Many employees aren’t aware that the community offers resources. Do they know that the library has ESL classes and Book Clubs? That the Park District has free movie nights? That the bike shop can teach people how to change a tire? Invite a chiropractor to discuss back health. The food bank may be seeking volunteers. Think BIG here. Many local businesses welcome the opportunity to promote their services.
- Make your offerings even more broad. What about pets? Can local veterinarians come to teach about how to care for animals in different seasons or talk about vaccinations? Can they offer promotions? What about auto dealers and services? Does everyone know when to get their oil changed and tires rotated? Don’t assume that employees know the basics. Local companies love to promote their services and offer introductory deals!
- Make it real time. Live demonstrations add a definite zest to the day. Again, ask restaurants. hospitals, or community colleges to provide on-site lessons for foods, with samples for various medical conditions. Emergency Medical Services can show how to treat wounds. Ask spas to teach skin care. Massages for stress relief are always welcome; the employees will love this and the massage therapists may get new clients.
- Make it unavoidable. Ask the American Cancer Society to be there to offer smoking cessation classes and information. Find a local provider for CPR classes. Is there a local Weight Watchers chapter? Invite them, and request a special rate for anyone who signs up at the health fair.
- Promote, promote, promote! Don’t skimp on letting employees know about the health fair. Give a full month's notice so everyone is aware of what’s going to be offered. Use posters in areas with high traffic: break rooms, copy machines, restroom mirrors, and elevators. Send emails to inform and remind. Put it on the agenda for staff meetings. Place a “passport” on each employee’s desk or workstation the morning of the health fair.
- Use in-house champions. Each department can designate someone to participate in planning or to attend meetings on promoting the health fair. Ask these staff members to report on the upcoming events and vendors for the day in order to drum up excitement in their respective departments.
- Provide an incentive. Can you have a drawing for all attendees, with vacation time as a prize? Or are you able to give away something from a local vendor? Asking the vendors to donate a small prize, or to sponsor a drawing at their booth, adds to the excitement. Most exhibitors will also have plenty of printed information or small items to give anyone who stops by their booths.
Why Plan Your Own?
One advantage of creating your own health fair is that you can design it to fit the needs of your employees within the context of your workplace wellness program. It can also be as big as your space allows. Most employees are eager to take a work break and learn more about local resources.
Remember to take a survey after the health fair. The feedback can help you plan for future events, as well as determine if it’s time to partner with a wellness company to expand your company’s program.