As Seen in the January 2020 issue of APeeling
Internal events or meetings are organized at all companies in one form or another. These can be as small as a weekly team meeting or as big and complex as an annual field meeting. Internal events reflect a company’s culture and affect employees’ perception of their company and its leadership, which has a significant impact on retention rates, onboarding costs, and ultimately ROI.
In today’s economy, 43% of younger employees plan to leave their jobs within 2 years. This represents a huge amount of turnover that translates into increased recruiting costs for organizations. It leads to an increased risk of negative word-of-mouth from ex-employees (which has never been more damaging with review sites like Glassdoor now a common part of the job hunt), making events all the more valuable as a tool to improve employee satisfaction and loyalty.
In fact, almost 64% of survey respondents agreed that internal events help retain employees. 92% of respondents admitted that meetings are, in fact, an excellent opportunity to contribute and a key factor in their job satisfaction. More than two-thirds of respondents to the same survey deemed internal meetings to be extremely or very productive.
With this in mind, it’s vital that organizations plan internal events strategically and understand their potential impact in order to use them to shift company culture and lead to positive outcomes for the organization.
Internal events are often planned by non-event employees, such as executive assistants, who don’t have the necessary expertise to plan strategic events. They often find themselves in a difficult position when tasked with executing event logistics and content. This not only applies to smaller, more manageable events but sometimes even to big-budget company-wide events. As such, internal events don’t always reach their full potential as a way to create a positive company culture.
Let’s take a closer look at three ways companies can leverage internal meetings and events to solidify company culture.
Secure Top-down Support from Leadership
Certain internal events, such as executive retreats, are inherently more exclusive and cater to the company leadership.
These events provide the opportunity for executives to regroup, brainstorm, and strategize together about the direction of the company. They may take place once a year, once a quarter, or at different intervals depending on the organization.
Culture is a key aspect of the overall company direction as it ties into the executives’ vision for the company, but retreats also give leaders an opportunity to decide how that ought to be conveyed to the rest of the employees. Although the adoption and success of the desired culture will ultimately be determined by the employees, executives play an important role in encouraging, providing top-down support, and setting the foundation for a positive work environment and culture.
Understand the Meeting Owner’s Needs/Objectives
This goes for all types of events, but it’s something to pay particular attention to for high-level events like this. The meeting owner is likely to be the CEO, and these retreats often run the risk of leaning too heavily on leisure, so be sure you’re on the same page and are able to deliver what they’re looking for.
Make Creative use of Venue
Executive retreats usually take place at off-site and (likely) upscale venues and resorts that allow for more creativity than the office boardroom. Try to find ways to spice things up to encourage both productivity and relaxation in a way that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. For example, if the setting allows for it, you can organize an informal meeting on the beach or a sunset reception on the rooftop. If a boardroom setting is absolutely necessary, prioritize natural daylight and rooms that may have a more quirky or interesting vibe.
Send Relevant Materials in Advance
Retreats are usually only a few days long at most, so it’s important that executives make the most of their time together once on site. If there are any materials or background information that they can look over on their own ahead of time, be sure to share this with them in advance so as not to waste time unnecessarily during the event.
Limit Brainstorming Time
While these types of events are obviously precious opportunities for leadership to meet and discuss future objectives and initiatives, it’s important to factor in a bit of R&R as well. Pay attention to event pacing and ensure that executives aren’t too burned out from meetings to be able to brainstorm and process information effectively.
Encourage Collaboration and Feedback
Although exclusive events like leadership summits help define culture and set the tone for the event program overall, larger events that involve employees are generally more culturally-defining. After all, employees are where the culture shines through on a daily basis; they’re the company’s ‘ambassadors’.
Company-wide meetings are a great way to promote company culture and include other events, such as team-building events, to encourage interaction and engagement among employees. These types of larger events also allow leadership to collect feedback through surveys or other tools to see how employees view the culture and what improvements may need to be made. Incorporating interactive workshops at business events is a growing worldwide trend for good reason.
Internal events are a key way that companies can define and reinforce their culture, the benefits of which go beyond the three discussed here. When done right, internal events are an effective way for leadership to shape the company culture, motivate their employees, receive feedback, and increase retention. It’s important that they are given the time and attention they deserve to ensure they are organized strategically and effectively to achieve these results.
Eugenia Gorkowa is an event planner in the Vancouver area.