How About A Wellness Fair?

With the looming changes in health care reform and rising costs of health insurance, “wellness” is a common human resources topic that has descended upon HR professionals nationally. Not only is employee wellness important for productivity, but it’s key in managing health insurance costs. Healthier employees make fewer claims, and fewer claims help manage premium increases. Many large companies are implementing Wellness Programs with financial incentives or putting workout facilities right on site. For those ‘smaller’ organizations that don’t have the abundance of resources to utilize, what else can be done?

A fun and energizing way to focus on employee wellness with little or no overhead costs is a Wellness Fair. This brings professionals and retailers face to face with your employees and will help motivate those that may need a little extra push. To increase attendance, you may want to advertise a raffle. People always perk up their ears when you’re talking about free stuff!

Start by talking with your benefits agent and ask them to become involved. They have undoubtedly participated in other wellness fairs, or helped other clients plan similar events in the past. Make sure you utilize them for their knowledge and resources. They will be able to secure the presence of your health insurance carriers at the wellness fair, as well as any other contacts they may have. Often times health insurance carriers will provide diagnostic services, have a representative there to answer questions or at the very least submit a prize for your raffle. When your claims are lower, their costs are lower, so wellness initiatives are in their best interest too.

Take a minute to make a list of resources. These can range from health professionals to store owners promoting healthy living. Think about people you know; do you have friends or relatives in the medical or wellness field? Don’t be shy, ask them to participate! If you don’t have contact information, search the Web; the ‘contact us’ link will definitely come to the rescue! Here are some ideas for presenters:

  • Medical practices for various issues: cardiology, chiropractic care, dermatology, dentistry, cancer centers, etc.

  • Doctor or nurse to field general questions

  • Non-profit organizations: American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, DEAF C.A.N.!, Hearing Loss Association of Michigan, etc.

  • Running retailers

  • Fitness centers (try to get them to commit to an employee discount)

  • Pharmacy retailers

  • Vitamin outlets

  • Chair massages

  • Healthy cooking demonstrations or healthy snacks

  • Weight loss centers

  • Yoga studios (see if they will lead a class)

  • Health insurance carriers

  • Worker’s compensation insurance carriers

  • Dietician

  • Exercise physiologist

  • Blood pressure screenings

  • Blood sugar screenings

  • Smoking cessation specialists

  • BMI calculation

Try to get every participating professional to donate a prize to your raffle. Remember it’s free for them to take part and promote what they do to your staff, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Promote your Wellness Fair to your staff with reckless abandon! List it in every newsletter possible; send out a flier and an email blast. Ask supervisors to make sure their staff has time to step away from their desks and take a walk through your Wellness Fair. If you want to be extremely inclusive you can invite family members to attend to help promote wellness at home too! Healthy families equal healthy employees and healthy employees lead to better productivity.

A Wellness Fair is a great way to show your employees that you care about their health. While promoting a lifestyle of wellness to your employees, you are also helping local companies and professionals promote their business. Protect yourself from higher premiums and implement wellness initiatives. When you have healthy employees you have happier employees!

Lisa Korotkin Rothberger is the Director of Human Resources at JARC, a non-profit organization based in Oakland County providing residential and support services to people with developmental disabilities. JARC is a 2011 winner of Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For and the 2011 National 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. Rothberger can be reached at [email protected].