Employee events: secrets for success
In many organisations Q4 and Q1 are the time of year for major face to face communication activity. Having returned to our core team after a maternity break, Sarah Sheasby shares her secrets for planning brilliant employee events, answering some FAQs:
I want to get the whole company together. Where do I start? Start by asking yourself: If this event was a great success, what will my employees know, feel and do differently as a result? Use this to set some specific and measurable objectives – whether a 10 point increase in engagement, or 90% understanding of your new strategy.
How do I get the message right? Be very honest about how employees are feeling. Form a working group with reps from around the business and take time to speak to influential line managers. Be upbeat while addressing the burning issues and prep your leadership team to own the message.
Brilliant! We’ll get the whole leadership team to present… Yawn. Of course factor in some of your leaders, but mix it up, too…choose the best storytellers and most charismatic characters to help deliver your message. Research shows employees often put greatest trust in their line managers – and in each other.
What do employees most value in an event? Three things that frequently top the request list are a brutally honest leaders’ Q&A, a chance to mingle and new news. And don’t forget to make it interactive.
How can we get everyone interacting? Keep your employees energised and on their toes with market stalls, seminars, Q&A, networking, displays and debating sessions. Put the emphasis on ‘show’ rather than ‘tell’.
How can I factor in technology? There are all sorts of ways of using tech to add ‘wow’ factor or simply increase engagement, from crowdsourcing live Q&As through Sli:do, to real-time audience polls and virtual reality.
Any other suggestions for mixing things up? Yes! Get creative with the venue – why not consider cinemas, airfields, sports centres and science and innovation hubs – if appropriate to your company and message, of course. Seating-wise, round tables are great for debates while beanbags set an informal tone.
Sounds like a lot going on! Of course we’re not suggesting you should include all of this in one event. Pick a couple of ideas that link brilliantly with your message/objectives and do them really well. The event needs to flow as a cohesive journey from A to B.
How can I maximise return on investment? Ask yourself: What are the 3 key messages I need to land? Leave your employees with a take-away such as an aide memoire, cascade pack or call to action. Use your internal communication channels to best effect before, during and after the event.
How will I know if it’s been a success? You’ll want to measure how effectively your messages have landed and any related shift in opinion and engagement. Don’t make the classic mistake of only seeking feedback on the catering and venue.
Any final tips? Plan, plan, plan: it’s all in the detail. Your event planner needs to be able to liaise seamlessly between the venue, your stakeholders and the event production agency. Our experts are here to help, so drop us a line if you need a hand!