In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced nearly half of all workplaces in the U.S. offer wellness benefits, and the trend is growing because it significantly affects employers’ bottom line. Regular exercise increases productivity, reduces sick time, improves cognitive function, helps employees manage stress, and boosts overall morale. Wellness can also be a pillar of company culture and help unify your team if you encourage staff to exercise together.  

While companies adjust to operating remotely during the coronavirus lockdown, virtual fitness classes could be the link that keeps your department connected. Here’s how to work with a gym to organize an exercise class for your whole department and energize your team.

Planning a Class That Aligns With Your Team’s Goals 

To decide what type of fitness class you should host, survey your employees. You might also want to consider asking staff about their preferences for scheduling and activity goals—for example, rating by priority the following categories: stress relief, strength-training, endurance, overall health, relaxation, social interaction, etc.   

After collecting the survey responses, follow up with your team about the results. By asking them to participate in the event planning, you’re more likely to find an activity that piques their interest and fits their schedule. You can also boost attendance by scheduling the event during regular working hours and choosing a beginner-friendly class and instructor. If you host the event in the middle of the day, give everyone time to shower and replenish before returning to work. 

Promoting a Virtual Fitness Event 

Once you’ve settled on a date and time, the next step is to generate interest. If you have an internal marketing team, coordinate with them to promote the event, and encourage enrollment. If you don’t, try to organize a task force that can help support you. Depending on the size of your company, you might decide to take on the responsibility of promoting the event yourself or work directly with the gym to spread the word.

Communication is key to boosting enrollment. Programs like MailChimp and Benchmark allow you to track your email open and click-through rates, along with additional session feedback to quantify engagement and identify what’s important to your team. If you don’t already use campaign management software, now is a good time to enroll in a free trial period.

Once you have a messaging system in place, share content that motivates employees and builds enthusiasm for the class. Here are a few suggestions for what to include in your newsletter: 

  • Video clips that preview the class.  
  • Information about the activity and instructor.  
  • Motivational quotes.  
  • Workout tips and health trivia.  
  • Social media posts and links. 

When designing these emails, use images, and headings to make the page visually appealing. Always include a link to the class signup page and details about when the event will take place. You might be able to also work with the gym to leverage their existing marketing material and coordinate efforts.

Driving Enrollment Across the Department 

Employees are far more likely to attend events if they occur during working hours. It’s also a good idea to host the class after important deadlines, so employees don’t feel pressured to make up the time later. Make scheduling easy for them by clearing away any nonessential conflicts on their calendar. Set up automated notifications leading up to the date and 30 minutes before the class begins. By automating these notifications ahead of time, you won’t need to worry about sending reminders at specific times.

In any team dynamic, leaders define the tone and set an example for the department. If you want to drive attendance, be the first to enroll and talk about the class with your team. Make sure the signup sheet is visible to everyone so employees can see who is participating—the opportunity to socialize can be a powerful incentive. 

Expanding Your Company’s Fitness Program 

People are looking for ways to connect during social distancing, and exercise is one of the most effective ways to manage stress. According to studies by the American Psychological Association, 53% of adults say they feel better immediately after exercising, and 36% of Millennials report feeling less anxiety. If people are happy with the class, consider hosting additional department-wide fitness events again in the future.  

Adding a wellness component to your overall company culture can make employees healthier, happier, and more productive. Studies show approximately 9 out of 10 people say employee wellness programs improve their overall happiness and well-being. Over time, this can translate into employee retention and shared company values.

To encourage employees to sign up for future events, offer an unexpected reward to the people who participated in the first class—for example, a delivery voucher for a post-workout meal or a company-sponsored personal training session. Make a concerted effort to talk with your team about wellness and build a community around attending classes together.

Why Is It Important to Host a Company Event Now? 

In today’s economic climate, every expense must be warranted. How can business leaders justify allocating a portion of their budget toward team building and exercise? During a crisis, your team’s connection to each other might be the determining factor that makes it possible to extend operations. MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found a 35% variation in the overall team performance based on the number of face-to-face interactions among coworkers. During periods of uncertainty, the impact multiplies. People are searching for purpose, and an organization that bands together will find the motivation to keep moving forward.