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Building Community through Employee Virtual Events

 

How are YOU engaging and motivating your employees as the virtual workplace continues into the foreseeable future? Keeping employees informed and involved in corporate culture will be even more critical for the success of your business going forward. More than ever, employees need a sense of community and if events aren’t currently a part of your corporate communications plan – they should be!

20% of remote employees say they lack a sense of belonging and sometimes feel lonely (Source: Forbes)

75% of all employees say they feel more socially isolated than prior to the pandemic (Source: Harvard Business Review)

What can employers do?

Employee events such as townhalls, AGM’s, national sales meetings, incentive programs, company-wide trainings, new product launches and even holiday parties are important and need to be re-imagined for the virtual world.

With many of these events under our belt, here are best practices for keeping your employees engaged and focused through virtual corporate experiences:

1. GET EMPLOYEES INVOLVED: Employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work (Source: Salesforce research). Be sure that your event isn’t just a one-way transmission of information – that’s a webinar not an event!

  • Send advance surveys or questionnaires to employees asking for input. Ask them to submit questions for the leadership team to answer, ideas for team building activities and pictures of themselves. Be sure to incorporate these ideas and call out those who participated to keep people tuned in and engaged.
  • Include simple but effective live chat and Q&A. However, just because you make these tools available doesn’t mean they will be used.  Get the conversation started by asking questions or use an ice breaker.  If you’re the host of the virtual event be sure to moderate the ongoing chat and answer questions as they come in – or assign someone.
  • Consider small group breakout sessions that allow groups or departments to connect virtually face-to-face and discuss a specific topic, do a team building activity or workshop a topic together.

2. DON’T TREAT VIRTUAL EVENTS LIKE MEETINGS

  • Send personalized event invitations instead of outlook meeting invites. You can mail a personalized invitation direct to the employees’ home or have them register for the event through a branded registration page. Get creative!
  • Invest in an all-in-one tech platform for your event. In addition to high-quality video streaming, a good all-in-one tech platform should provide opportunities for custom branding, live audience engagement tools, networking functions and space for downloadable resources.
  • Invest in high quality production to send the message that the event is a priority. It needs to look polished and professional and you can do this by getting your presenters in a studio with a small camera crew or setting up a “studio-like” set up at Presenter’s homes or offices. At minimum, invest in high quality audio and video equipment for your live stream.
  • Theme your event – a unique event theme will align with key corporate messages and set the tone you want for your employee experience. Have fun by integrating the theme through dress codes, entertainment, and other creative “wow” moments!

3. INCLUDE SURPRISE & DELIGHT MOMENTS that will keep the audience engaged and keep them talking about the event long after it ends. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pre-event mailer kit sent to employee’s homes with themed items, branded swag, lunch vouchers and more!
  • Surprise guest speaker or moderator to host the event or give an inspirational keynote speech.
  • Surprise entertainment for cocktail receptions, holiday parties and milestone celebrations. You can pre-record great entertainment or keep it live and interactive.
  • Contests & gamifications are a great way to keep your audience engaged and participating. Many tech platforms have integrated gamification so you can award creative prizes like 1:1 time with an executive or guest speaker.

A lot of planning and attention to detail goes into creating GREAT virtual employee events and when done well, will build a sense of corporate community, educate employees and connect teams far and wide (sometimes even better than live events!). Here’s the Proof from a few recent virtual events we’ve developed with clients…

  • …I’ve always said to others that I feel like I’m part of something that is really great and wonderful and important with this group. This event just drove that home again and reminded me why. I had goosebumps in parts of it, tears in others, it was just really great!”
  • “The Virtual format provided new opportunities to connect – I really felt like part of a family.”
  • “Feeling so connected across the country!”
  • “This virtual event was better than the live event – which I didn’t think was possible”

Click here to see examples of great virtual Corporate Events.

Senior Vice President, Client Service|November 4, 2020

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