Kick Up Faculty and Staff Engagement


In a perfect world, your rec center is vibrant with attendance from all members of your campus community – faculty, staff and students, and their family members. But if your rec center is low on faculty and staff usage, there are some simple and cost-effective ideas that can turn them into believers.

Faculty and staff may differ from the students in their view of the rec center. While senior Kelsey may think, “I want to destress with my friends,” and freshman Adrian figures, “a quick game of basketball will be fun,” faculty member Constance has expressed hesitations about using the rec center: “I’d rather my students didn’t see me struggling in that cycling class.” Staffer Jon pointed out a common complaint facing most of us: “I have too much stuff going on in the mornings to make it here when you open.”

Faculty and staff may be hesitant about becoming regular users due to work and family commitments, a perceived time drain, or being intimidated by unfamiliarity with the equipment and programs, among other reasons. To encourage greater participation from this group, you can create special events and programs to attract them:

1. Days Specifically Geared to Faculty/Staff

We collaborated with our employee wellness office and provided open houses for faculty and staff before students were on campus for that semester. We made it a fun game of “bingo” where they could get a stamp at each “square” on their bingo card as they made their way around the facility and asked staffers handling each station about offerings such as swim lessons, how to hire a personal trainer or the level of difficulty of the group exercise classes. Attendance was great. The participants asked a lot of questions and were very appreciative to be able to see the facility while there were few people using it.

2. Classes Geared to Faculty/Staff

The level of fitness varies across all categories of members, so offering classes with diverse levels of difficulty – everything from a high-energy kickboxing class to a Zumba Gold class with lessened impact moves – can offer exciting choices for your members and help encourage them to continue improving at a level that is comfortable for them.

3. Special Services Based on Demographics

Staff and faculty who are parents will appreciate special event nights such as a Parent’s Night Out where your facility can provide entertainment for the kids for a few hours or a summer day camp where the kids can come for all-day educational programs created in collaboration with other departments on campus, such as Camp C-Woo offered by Central Washington University.

4. Special Products in the Pro Shop

If your facility has a pro shop, offer items that may appeal to the parents in the group – kids’ swim accessories, toiletries, fun T-shirts and stickers – as well as products they find helpful – muscle rub, boxing and weightlifting gloves, hair ties, etc. – while offering convenience.

5. Incentives to Use the Rec Center

Many universities provide an incentive to use the rec center, including discounts on health insurance premiums, prizes for reaching fitness goals, etc.

6. Testimonials

Get your best faculty/staff supporters to do short video testimonials of their successes and appear in social media posts. People like to see others who look like them and have had success.

There are many ways to attract more faculty and staff to your rec center. Do you have new ideas? Let us know in the comments below; it’s always great to share others’ programs and try something that has already proved successful for another facility.

Theresa Ortega
Theresa Ortega’s childhood of playing soccer and swimming at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas, Venezuela, instilled a lifetime interest in fitness. She served as interpreter co-coordinator of weightlifting for the Pan Am Games hosted in Indianapolis. At Indiana State University’s campus recreation since 2006, Theresa has experience with marketing, communications, web, digital media and managing the pro shop and is now learning the reservation process. Her Bachelor of Science in Psychology is from Indiana State and she has served as a speaker/presenter at both IRSA and NIRSA conferences and Midwest Fitfest. Theresa is a champion of diversity and connections to campus rec. Theresa can be reached at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *