Benefits and Compensation, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Health Fairs Are Going Virtual—What Does That Mean for Companies and Employees?

As employees continue to work remotely, many of the traditional wellness programs companies offered are no longer viable, but supporting employee well-being and maintaining culture are more important than ever. If employees can’t make it to the office, companies are bringing it to them in their homes through virtual programming and health days.

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Because this is a new model that had not been used before the pandemic began and companies moved to fully remote workforces, there are a few key points HR leaders and managers must understand in order to make the transition both beneficial for employees and cost-effective.

What Is a Virtual Health Fair, and How Does It Work?

A virtual health fair can take on many forms but brings the physical experience of a health fair to employees in their homes. It offers a variety of programming, from fitness classes and mindfulness sessions to nutrition workshops or cooking demos, whereby employees can design their own schedule to participate in the options that interest them. It may even include a raffle with prizes like a week of healthy meals from HelloFresh or Sakara Life or a subscription to Peloton or MyYogaWorks.

What Are the Advantages of Virtual Health Fairs?

Convenience is a major factor, as it allows employees to participate in their own way, in their home, and on their own schedule. If participating means joining a Zoom link, it’s much more accessible to employees in all offices and more likely that even those with busy schedules or across time zones can join for a session or two.

It is also an opportunity to branch out and offer unique programming like “Mindful Gardening,” as many people take up hobbies like gardening for the first time. The key is offering variety and managing sign-ups for various sessions. If employees receive a personalized schedule with calendar invites for the sessions they signed up for, the likelihood of participation is higher. It’s also likely to be more cost-effective than on-site health fairs, which means you can do more with your budget.

How Can Companies Design Wellness Programs for Remote Workforces and Keep Their Teams Engaged?

Employees’ routines have been turned upside down, and many people are looking for how to incorporate a well-being practice into their new schedules and lives at home. Programs designed to offer a combination of individual resources and virtual group programming offer the best of both worlds. It’s important to take stock of what programs were previously in place that employees relied on—like an on-site gym at the office—and how they can be replaced by virtual options.

Surveying employees about what wellness resources they need most is a great way to get a pulse on what best serves them. If many employees have families, cooking healthy meals will be a priority; because people are eating more meals at home, access to meal kits like Blue Apron and grocery delivery like Thrive Market can be a huge time-saver.

Also, mental health is top of mind for all employees. Easy access to mindfulness apps employees can use at home is a great way to support employees’ mental health, but a guided virtual mindfulness session with the team can also be a great way to take a pause and rejuvenate during the day with coworkers. Ideally, these programs can also continue to provide more flexibility and inclusiveness to employees as we eventually transition back to the workplace, as well. The future is virtual!

As a former athlete, Erika Zauner is a fitness fanatic. You can find her getting her sweat on at HealthKick partner studios, getting in her daily dose of zen after learning Vedic meditation with HealthKick wellness expert Ben Turshen, and fueling up with farmer’s market produce from OurHarvest and Thrive Market.