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5 Tips for Putting on a Great Company Health Fair

By Eric Mann | August 10, 2016 | Rally Health

There are a lot of ways to get your folks excited about taking care of themselves and engaging with your wellness programs. At Rally, putting on a health event is one of our favorite techniques. We call them “HealthFests" to get across the idea that it’s going to be fun.

That’s because making your event something people actually want to attend is the most important thing you can do. To get people to show up, they need to feel it’s going to be worth their time. So how do you do that? Based on our experience putting on HealthFests large and small, including a huge affair with Kevin Hart in New York City this summer, here are the five things that will put you on track for a successful event.

1. Fill the Room

No one wants to go to a party when no one else is there — empty rooms are so awkward! You can’t over-communicate when it comes to getting the word out about your health fair, so use all of your channels — emails, posters, company intranet, flyers, etc. But you know this.

Be sure to get the word out about your event.
Be sure to get the word out about your event.

Here’s something you may not have tried. Create some buzz by having a small but influential group of employees agree to participate before you even start marketing the event. Ask them to help you get the word out, and maybe even staff the event itself. Not only does this lighten your load, it helps drive attendance and recognizes their leadership. Your ambassadors can be everyone from the CEO and other senior execs to health and fitness buffs or people who are just natural leaders. Got a company gym? That’s a perfect place to find volunteers.

Giveaways and sweepstakes are another great way to attract people. They don’t have to be expensive, and your vendors will have plenty of ideas for you. One of our most popular giveaways are tiny cooling towels. Just be sure to come up with something that appeals to your culture, like a shopping bag for fruits and vegetables, and make sure everyone knows you’re going to be giving them away in advance.

Then, use all of your levers and communicate the giveaways, star participants, and fun activities, and link it all to the personal benefits of being well.

2. Make It Fun

Don’t think you can dump a bunch of information on people and expect them to retain it. Health and wellness outreach needs to be a two-way conversation, with a high level of interaction. So look for ways to make it a participatory experience. Then folks will remember what you’ve worked so hard to communicate.

At one Rally event, our team came up with the idea to do a Silent Disco to show how easy (and fun) being active can be. Our message was: Moving doesn’t just have to mean pounding weights. It can mean walking or dancing with some headphones on to your favorite kind of music.

A DJ can pump up your event.
A DJ can pump up your event.

“The Silent Disco created a uniqueness to that health fair,” says Steve Collins, Rally’s partner marketing director who has worked on 10 events so far this year. Everyone was wearing headsets, no one knew what the others were listening to, but they just got down with the groove and had a lot of fun with it.”

3. Map to Your Company Culture

One of the things we love to do at our own HealthFests is encourage people to stretch every day. There are many ways to do that, and you’ll know which approach is best for your team. For a more traditional client, we showed people how to do simple stretches that were office appropriate. But for another company that prides itself on their fun, vibrant culture, we set up a giant version of Twister, with hilarious results.

“We wanted a twist on what could’ve been a literal demonstration of our mission to stretch every day,” says Collins.

4. Tie Activities to the Behaviors You Want to Encourage

At Rally events, we always have food — healthy food — because who doesn't like that? We present it in a food cart that looks like something you’d see at a Farmer’s Market, and make sure the people staffing it are able to talk about the benefits of swapping healthy foods for sugary snacks. If you decide to serve healthy food at your event, you can also offer tips on the best local places to shop healthy, or hold an apple eating contest.

Healthy food is always a big draw.
Healthy snacks are always a big draw.

It also helps to foster some healthy competition at your health fair. We often feature a tent with stationary bikes that allow attendees to compete against celebrity athletes from Rally Cycling, as well their fellow employees. Is one of your executives into cycling or running? Have your people compete against him or her for the best time, and offer the winner a fitness club membership for a year. Just be sure to tie the rewards to the behaviors you are trying to instill.

Wellness isn’t just food and fitness, either. It’s also about de-stressing and having a healthy mind. People who meditate, keep a journal, or do yoga and other stress relieving activities tend to have lower blood pressure, improved lung and liver function, sharper memory, and fewer missed days at work. So consider asking a local yoga instructor to give a class — or better yet, see if one of your employees could lead it. That’s a great way to involve and engage people —and boost attendance.

Being grateful also helps people feel better, so why not create a gratitude wall, where people can write down the things they are grateful for? This can be as simple as a big chalkboard. You’d be surprised at how people will engage, and the things that they will say.

5. Follow Up Afterwards

No matter how great your health fair is, you can’t expect people to retain everything they heard or learned. Plus, not everyone will be able to attend. So be sure to reinforce your message in post-event communications. Share it on social media, circulate fun photos from the event, and send thank you emails that give a summary of what you shared and how to find out more.

Bottom line? Plan an event that you’d want to attend, tie your rewards to the behaviors you are trying to instill, and help people understand that there are many ways to be healthy that fit right into their lifestyle. Your health fair doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does have to be fun. No one knows your community like you do, so you’re in the best position to pull that off.

Eric Mann heads up marketing efforts for our key partners. He has more than 20 years of technology and health care marketing experience, leading browser marketing for Netscape and product marketing for Oracle Health Science.

Eric Mann
Rally Health