How to Add FUN to Your Employee Wellness

FunStudies have found employees are more likely to engage in wellness when participation has an element of fun. Therefore, how can Wellness Coordinators generate smiles with their wellness initiatives? The good news is that many others have found the answer and we can glean from their creativity.

I’ve heard the complaints. You’ve heard them too.  “I’m not getting the flu shot; I hate needles.” Or “Schedule a physical? No way, I’m fine.” “This is only about saving the company money.” But when a measure of entertainment is added to the wellness programming, participation increases.

Volkswagen Did It

Taking a stairway can be good for health and be fun. Volkswagen desired to increase the use of their stairway which was located adjacent to an escalator. While many organizations have experienced success in encouraging the use of stairways by making the stairway attractive with bright colors or murals, Volkswagen went a $50,000 step further when they transformed the Stockholm, Sweden stairway into a large piano keyboard. Usage of the stairway increased 66%!

Wellness Champions know that a strategic approach to incentivizing employees is to use the culture of the organization to tailor wellness to the needs and likes of the employees. Like many offices, we—in our firm—are a competitive group. We find reasons to compete and will hold competitions during the college football season, March Madness or a reality TV show. We also use this competitive culture to draw employees into wellness. We increased participation in our Quarterly Wellness Initiatives when we allowed employees to earn points for participation. At the end of the year we turned the points into dollars and reimbursed employees for the purchase of new athletic or training shoes. Seventy-five percent of our multi-generational employee team now own a new pair of shoes for running, walking, basketball or tennis. New shoes are fun!

Convinced that prevention is a key component of a successful wellness program we provided free flu shots for each employee and everyone who received the shot was eligible for a drawing for gift cards. To encourage employees to have an annual physical we offered to treat them to a couple of races at a local Indoor Karting facility. Gift cards and go-karts are fun.

Use Creative Branding and Signage

Creative branding can also make wellness strategies appealing. I was providing ideas to a marketing team seeking to develop a wellness strategy for a well-known global organization with one of the most recognizable icons in advertising. I suggested they develop a “fit” version of the icon to brand their wellness strategy and link it to their corporate branding. Simple and creative “fit and healthy” figures, that brand the strategy, can evoke positive and fun feelings toward a wellness strategy and open the door to greater participation.

Similarly, catchy signage can bolster motivation to engage in wellness.  Employers can install parking signage at the far corners of the parking lot, reading “Winners Park Here” or “Reserved for Employees who care about their health.” Any signage and communiqués that are “fun” or “happy” will increase the chances of receptivity. Colorful photos in the cafeteria of fruit, veggies and other nutritious foods are excellent healthy reminders. However, creative reminders of health can be displayed all through the workplace.  You can create your own or purchase posters such as this one from Zazzle:

Dinosaurs refused to exercise and look what happened to them.

 Or, this one found on the Empowering Fitness blog:

 When I exercise I wear all black…because it’s a funeral for my fat.

Entertaining quizzes are another simple way to make wellness education fun. I was at a recent meeting of HR professionals and to kick-off the meeting we presented the attendees with a quiz designed to educate and encourage healthy habits heading into the peak of flu season. Smiles and laughter, along with, “Wow, I didn’t think about that,” enhanced the learning as we asked questions such as:

What is dirtier, the average toilet seat or desk?
What is the average amount of times adults touch their face in an hour?
What percentage of gas pump handles are highly contaminated with germs?
What percentage of TV remotes test positive for cold viruses?

FunSaladSalad Bowl Wednesdays can be a fun lunch activity where employees bring food items to make a large healthy salad bar, adding excitement to an initiative to encourage healthier eating. Employees can be treated to a fun and entertaining field trip to a grocery store to learn about making smart and healthy shopping decisions. Many employees are now enjoying Corporate Biggest Losers competitions. On-site Zumba and Step classes provide the dual motivation of fun and community. Wellness gamification is growing exponentially and the success is attributed to ease of use, its social component and….it is fun.

Wellness can be fun

Wellness can be fun. It takes creativity and the effort to know the organization’s culture and needs of employees.  But if you succeed in generating smiles, expect health to follow.

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Share you examples of how to make wellness fun in the comment section below.

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About Jack W Bruce
Jack W Bruce Jr. is a novice blogger, husband and father of four, living in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a lover of God, a reader and a wanna-be runner. Jack’s blogs include www.jackwbruce.wordpress.com and www.jackintheteambox.com. Jack can also be found on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/jackwbruce.

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