At Wheely Good Smoothies, we travel to all sorts of events up and down the coast. We spend a lot of our time catering office wellness events, but that doesn't mean each one feels the same. Just like people, all workplaces are different. So are the ways they support their employees.
In fall of 2021, we went to three different employee appreciation events: one in New York, one in Pennsylvania, and one right next door in Washington, DC. The same two members of our team worked all three of these events, so we decided to sit down and talk about what we noticed at each one.
adMarketplace - New York City
The first event was at an advertising company in New York in late September. Right off the bat, it was clear from the space that we fit right in with the everyday happenings at this company. We set up in a small communal kitchen in a central area of the office that had all the makings of a fun, young company with a focus on employee comfort. I mean, they had cold brew AND kombucha on tap.
While many people in the office were eagerly anticipating hopping on one of our bikes, not all of the employees knew we would be there that day. Even so, no one bat an eye seeing our smoothie setup taking over their kitchen. People even took videos of their coworkers having fun on our bikes and shared it to the company's LinkedIn!
Palram Americas - Pennsylvania
While the event in New York was commonplace in that office, in Pennsylvania we participated in a much larger and more targeted multi-day health and wellness event. As a multi-building warehouse and production facility, this event catered to people from all departments and walks of life, from the administrative office and marketing team to forklift operators and production line workers. The larger size led to the event needing more space than just a kitchen. We weren't the only attraction this time around, either. The wellness fair was outdoors with multiple different activity stations. In addition to our bike booth, there was an organic banana soft serve vendor, a giant paint-by-numbers canvas, free lunch, and, our personal favorite, Chuck the Farmer with produce straight from his farm. The organizers provided a variety of options to encourage their employees' health and wellness.
Since the Palram employees' schedule was split into various day shift/night shift and weekday arrangements, the wellness fair was broken up to make sure all employees got the opportunity to participate. We worked four separate smoothie sessions over the two days we were there. Instead of being so much of a "take a break and stop by" setup like in New York, the HR team here timed these event sessions to coincide with shift changes to make sure people could hop on and make a smoothie or do some painting on their way to and from work or on a break. There were a few familiar faces on both days, but overall we saw around 200 different employees each day.
The multi-day experience had a fun and unexpected bonus for our team as well. In between shifts, we got to explore the area surrounding the event and its local offerings. This ranged from sitting down at restaurants to taking a couple of hours to go explore the nearby Crystal Cave.
The pastoral setting of eastern Pennsylvania was a very cool contrast to the bustling city we'd been in the week before. The sunsets over the hillsides during evening shifts were absolutely beautiful. Another thing we noticed that might be attributed to the location was how our Heart Beet smoothie flavor was an absolute hit with the Palram crowd, even more so than our usual most popular flavor. You just couldn't beat the beets.
Washington Commanders Football Team Marketing Department - Washington, D.C.
While the previous two gigs were both set up for employees to pass through, our early October wellness event in D.C. was a social occasion for its employees. This event was smaller than Palram, with the focus on the marketing department rather than the stadium's employees as a whole. We set up in a lovely outdoor area at the stadium where marketing employees could leave their office and step outside for some smoothies and fresh air.
This event reminded us of something akin to a smoothie happy hour. Employees came down to our station in large droves and gathered around in crowds, cheering each other on, taking photos for each other's social media, and standing around with their smoothies after peddling in order to chat with their coworkers.
This event overlapped with the marketing department's intense eighteen-month-long collaborative process rebranding the team to the recently announced Washington Commanders, so it offered a nice opportunity for employees to take a breather and socialize before diving back into this massive project with a new burst of energy.
We brought two flavors to this event: Tropicalicious and the same Heart Beet from Pennsylvania. While there were still a few beet-heads in the marketing department, Tropicalicious was an overwhelming hit. We know that flavor preferences can vary regionally and it was really fun to see that in action two gigs in a row.
Despite all three of these events being so different in their format, each one was designed specifically with their employees in mind. At adMarket, with a fast-paced environment in a small office, being able to come and go through a central communal space and pedal a smoothie brightened people's days. In Pennsylvania there was a variety of stations for a large variety of people, and a massive enough schedule to try and give everyone the opportunity to participate. In D.C. employees had the chance to take a full break and socialize with their coworkers outside the confines of their offices.
All of these events took place in three consecutive weeks. In early fall, it's a coin flip to see whether it will be a scalding hot day or rainy skies. In all three cases, we were faced with setting up our smoothie bike station in light rain. While rain wasn't as much of an issue for the indoor NYC event, employees at the other two did have to deal with the weather. However, we noticed that the light rain didn't deter anyone from deciding to take a break from work and stop by our booth for a smoothie. Rain or shine, folks are going to want to take part in the wellness events their HR department has set up for them.