March Madness – the NCAA Basketball Tournament pool sweeps the workplace each spring. Employees participate voluntarily and with excitement. Talk of the tourney is all around the office and even those who know nothing about the teams playing — or basketball itself — will enter. This is a phenomenon of “employee activation” wellness leaders dream of. What may be surprising is that the elements that make a March Madness pool so successful are the same as those that can activate employees in order to have a successful wellness program.
Event Duration – More people run 5Ks than marathons
With March Madness, there is a short, set period of time over which the event occurs. Wellness challenges that drag on for weeks do exactly that … drag on. More employees may decide to participate and finish a wellness program if the commitment didn’t seem so daunting. Consider 2 – 4 week program sprints rather than 8 – 12 week marathons.
Competition – Sure, we’re all winners but ….
Winning the pool is clearly important, but it’s not the only thing that motivates employees to participate. So is doing better than a coworker. Bragging rights can be worth as much as any financial payoff. Wellness competitions and challenges work the same way. While many companies hold challenges, most do little to publicize them. Regularly communicating participants’ progress and success can do a lot to generate some friendly competition.
Incentives – Money makes the world go round and activates employees
Take away the payoff and March Madness participation would drop precipitously. With regards to wellness programs, incentives are a crucial element – but they all don’t have to be positive!
Senior Management Support
March Madness pools only exist with the support of the senior management team. This is critical and, in many cases, the most important element in the overall success of a wellness program. Providing funding is just not enough. The most successful pools have company leaders as program champions.
March Madness participation shows us that employees can be activated. If you motivate employees, provide incentives, communicate regularly and get senior management support, you can run a successful wellness program too.