Employee Engagement Strategies: 5 Ways to Leverage Outdoor Installations

Getting employees up and out of their seats and moving their bodies is highly beneficial. So much so, some companies have started installing exercise equipment on site to encourage activity. Staying active can improve overall health, which makes for a stronger, happier employee. And fitter, more joyful employees make for a better workplace in general. There’s little doubt that if you can get your employees to exercise more, your business will thrive. Now, you just have to figure out how to get them engaged.

1. Create Lunchtime Workouts 

Many people struggle to figure out when to work out. People are busier than ever and can rarely squeeze out time to exercise. Parents have children to drop off before work and attend to after work. Single people may work longer hours or have a second job. There’s a reason gym attendance skyrockets at the beginning of the year and dwindles by February or March. But one time of day people are realizing they can use is lunchtime. 

You can create a lunchtime fitness routine for your employees that encourages engagement. Many outdoor exercise machines function like grown-up playground equipment, making it fun for everyone. Bring in a coach or trainer to lead your staff through a 30-minute workout, leaving them time to eat afterward. Or have your employees teach each other various workouts on the installations, which can help develop camaraderie and leadership skills. 

2. Offer PTO for Use of Equipment 

If you’re determined to get your people outside and into fitness, you could always dangle a carrot. While money is nice, what many employees are hoping for is more free time. Many companies in European countries offer a four-day workweek. As a result, they have found their employees to be happier, healthier, and more productive. While you don’t have to change your entire company’s policy on the work week, you do have options. 

You could create a reward system that calls for a certain number of hours logged on the fitness equipment. Then, after so many hours, employees can earn paid time off. You could also offer a certain number of PTO hours if employees bring another employee with them. With this referral system and the PTO rewards, you’ll likely have your staff lining up to work out. Before you know it, you may have your workers raving about their amazing workplace.  

3. Make the Space Easy to Access and Use

Another way to ensure employees utilize outdoor installations is to make those spaces available as often as possible. The fitness equipment should be cleaned regularly, easy to access, and easy to use. If you have the area in a hard-to-get-to location, behind locked doors, your staff is less likely to make use of it. You could also have tutorials on the walls on how to use each piece of equipment. 

If you’re going for broke, hire a trainer to come in regularly and show employees how to maximize their workout time. The more comfortable people feel using a machine, the more likely they are to use it. You could also create a sign-up sheet or arrange blocks of time for different departments. A schedule like this one will help prevent the fitness space from becoming overcrowded. Flexibility is the key here to getting full engagement. 

4. Be Prepared for Shifts in the Weather

Most people who enjoy exercising will love working out on a cool spring day or even a brisk autumn afternoon. But few people want to sweat it out under a too-hot sun or suffer through rain and snow. The last thing you want is for all this expensive equipment to go to waste during seasons with harsh weather. Particularly if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, it will pay to be prepared. 

Just because it’s an outdoor installation, doesn’t mean you can’t offer protection. If you’ve gone to the trouble of installing fitness equipment, you may as well install a cover. A hard-top canopy will block out the harsh sun during the summer and keep out the rain and snow during winter and spring. Yet your employees will still feel like they’re outside in the fresh air. This way, your staff can make use of the installation year-round. 

5. Lead By Example

Finally, it’s hard to take advice from someone who isn’t leading by example. You likely already know this from running a business. You can’t ask employees to work hard if they don’t see you working hard. You can’t expect them to make sacrifices and take pay cuts if they don’t see you doing the same. This reality holds for exercising and trying new things as well. 

If you want your employees out on the exercise equipment, get out there yourself. Get your upper management and top executives involved first. Generate a memo for your executives that shares your vision for a healthier workplace. Offer upper management extra rewards and benefits for getting their teams engaged with the equipment. 

In the end, getting your employees to use your outdoor installations as much as possible does not have to be difficult. If you lead by example, make the space available and easy to use, and offer rewards, they will be begging to get out there. And word of mouth travels fast — they’ll likely tell their coworkers to go for it too. There really is no obvious downside to having a fitness option for your staff and encouraging them to use it. 

Written by Rida Sheppard