Actions that a benefits coordinator can take to ensure that employees turn up to their benefit fair that they worked long and hard to organize
Encouraging employees to attend a benefit fair can require a lot of work from the employee benefits coordinator, but it is imperative to the success of the event that employees show up and participate, otherwise what was the point? Running an employee benefit fair with poor turnout or unmotivated employees can be disastrous on many levels. Employees miss out on being educated on the benefits that the organization offers and it is one of the very few opportunities that a benefits group has to socialize the offerings with employees. When only a small number of employees show up to a benefit fair, it makes the benefit coordinator look somewhat unprofessional as one of their primary tasks is to reach out to employees and promote the work benefits. If they fail to achieve this, then they have failed in their role.
How Employee Benefit Coordinators Plan a Good Benefit Fair
There is not one sure-fire method of increasing employee attendance at employee benefits fairs because, in the end, it is up to the employees themselves to take the time off from their work to go to the benefit fair. However, there are some tried and trusted methods that when implemented together, have worked for many benefit coordinators in the past. Below are examples of what some employee benefit coordinators have done to improve employee engagement.
Choose The Right Time And Venue For The Employee Benefit Fair
When selecting the space for the benefit fair, coordinators must determine whether or not the area is big enough to fit all of the employees they plan to have attend and if the space is appropriate for all the benefit vendor tables. It is best to hold the fair in a central or high traffic area, ideally near the front lobby, the company cafeteria or the atrium. This ensures that as many employees as possible will travel past the fair and spark curiosity about what is going on. This will pick up any other employees that the communication methods below did not reach, but coordinators should not rely on any one method to drive employees to the fair. It is important for the sake of employee turnout, that employee benefit fairs are never held in small or hard-to-find conference rooms or in the back of the office in some vacant space that has bad feng shui.
The ideal time of the event should be just prior to lunch time and during a weekday. The benefit fair should avoid taking place on Fridays, early mornings and late afternoons. Scheduling a benefit fair on (or near) an important holiday or on an important employee’s birthday, is also a rookie mistake. Important meetings often come up and it is sometimes better to reschedule the fair rather than letting the benefit fair suffer.
Physical and Online Promotion Of The Employee Benefit Fair
For a benefit coordinator, there is no such thing as too much promotion, the more promotion the better the employee turnout will be. Obviously overdoing the message can be counter productive, so coordinators should promote to any employees across a number of different channels, rather than swamp inboxes. Promotion should be done at least two weeks in advance, and repeated in the time leading up to the fair and again on the day of the fair itself. Promotions should include, but are not limited too: handing out flyers weeks in advance in social areas, putting posters up in coffee areas, speaking directly with managers to ask them to allow their employees to attend the fair and emailing all company employees with the fair information including the exact date and time of the fair and exactly why they should attend. Emailing employees is usually the best way to promote a benefit fair to employees, because it is instant and direct, but other marketing channels must also be utilized. Benefit fair coordinators have experienced success with emailing employees twice during the day of the fair itself as well as prior to the fair. The timing of this email should be once in the morning before the event and again around lunch time, during the fair.
Offer Free Lunch For Employees Who Attend The Benefit Fair
A free meal is always a great motivator for employees to show up to an event. If a benefit coordinator can figure out a plan to get sandwiches, wraps, salads, or any sizable meal to an event, the chances of employees showing up at the fair significantly increase. Healthy snacks, coffee and doughnuts are a good option as well for morning events, but a free meal is likely to bring in many more employees to the benefit fair. If it is too difficult to bring food to the event itself, giving out meal vouchers to the company cafeteria or a local lunch spot can be just as compelling to employees. If budget is a consideration, then fruit, cookies and snacks are a good bet to increase attendance.
Sponsor Free Flu Shots For Employees At The Benefit Fair
Many benefit fairs call in health services attend the benefit fair and administer free flu shots to employees. The flu shot booths always have a line going out the door whenever they are offered at the fair. Chair massages also tend to peek employees' interests and draw attention to the employee benefit fair. Other wellness treatments such as: holistic healers, aromatherapists and acupuncturists can also make employees want to come to the fair and participate.
Offer Free Giveaway Items To Employees Who Attend The Benefit Fair
Not every coordinator has access to a budget to give away a prize in raffle, but the few that can do this see a great increase in employee attendance. Giving out low-cost freebies at a benefit fair is an economical alternative, but a big prize is the greater motivator. The raffle prizes usually consist of gift cards, a flat screen TV or a laptop. The protocol for this raffle is that employees must go around collecting signatures or stamps from all of the vendors booths and once they complete this, their names are entered into the big prize raffle. It is common that Vendors will also provide their own gifts to give away at the benefit fair and the organization can often integrate all the raffle drawings together.
Require Mandatory Attendance To The Employee Benefit Fair
Forcing mandatory attendance to a benefit fair is the best option to ensure that employees will show up to the fair, but it can be tricky to pull off with the company’s upper level management. To require mandatory attendance, it is best to inform managers about the fair and what the plan is for it far out in advance so they are not surprised and reject the idea altogether. If mandatory attendance is not a feasible option to pursue, having a consequence for employees who do not show up to the fair might be a decent alternative, but the whole plan lacks a positive spin and can end up being counter-productive.
Offer Some Entertainment At The Employee Benefit Fair
For larger outdoor events, having a live band perform is a great motivator for employees to attend. It could be difficult to organize for an indoor benefit fair but, for an outdoor event, the live band would be a really nice touch. However, most benefit fairs are held indoors and for those, coordinators can simply play some modern catchy tunes on decent speakers to draw a similar positive attention from employees. With the idea of entertainment at the fair in mind, offering games at the fair is also a creative draw for employees.