Executing a corporate event that is creative and on-brand is a challenge. Luckily, more meeting planners are focusing on the end-to-end event planning experience. Before diving into the operational side of things, it’s important to establish your creative messaging and goals. Why are you having this event? What do you want attendees to walk away with? How are you going to convey that?
This year brings some new ideas and trends in meeting planning to help find your messaging organically. Bonus: it means your meeting will be as unique as your company. Interested? Read on.
Ever feel like you’re fresh out of ideas? Or rather, that it’s hard to come up with something relevant? Your employees are a great way to tap into insights about what is important in the business and its culture.
BizBash recommends using surveys before starting down the planning road. Surveys can be sent out via email well in advance for attendees to fill out. After pooling together responses, look for a theme. Is there a common concern about culture? Misunderstandings about sales objectives? Pain point in the market? Whatever it is, make that the focus for the next corporate event.
This makes messaging and event goals much more focused. Plus, if employees and other upper-management stakeholders are on-board with the objectives, higher engagement and attendance rates will naturally follow.
Once you have the corporate event objectives and messaging planned don’t stop there. Use objectives developed through internal brainstorm sessions to create collateral for pre and post-event. No matter if it’s for employees or outside attendees, people need to be onboard in advance. Taking a book out of online retail shoppers by building an .
Engage employees through social media, email reminders or even old-fashioned flyers to remind them about the event. Provide enticing messaging about what they’ll get from attending. Keep messaging and objectives consistent across all assets. Reading an email and then attending the event should feel like an extension of the same conversation.
“Before they arrive on-site, attendees should understand why they’re going to the meeting and what they’re going to walk away with. You need to be constantly in front of them with that branding and that message.”
Once you have clear messaging and goals for the event, use that to influence the design and creative execution. Smart Meetings urges planners to select a theme that supports conference goals. The concept of storytelling through design is another emerging trend for 2017.
Event planners are using the themes and goals of events to influence the design of the physical space. For example, if your annual sales meeting’s objective is to “raise the bar,” there could be activities and experiences that present challenges. Push employees out of their comfort zones. Then, think about what types of unusual (read: uncommon and budget-friendly) locations and activities would foster that behavior.
Employee Recognition Drives Retention
Recruiting requires a lot of time and energy. Organizations must invest the same or more effort into employee recognition and retention programs for the talent already in the organization. Lars Schmidt, a contributor at Forbes, suggests “retention will be the biggest talent challenge of 2017.”
One effective method of reducing turnover and helping retain top performers is creating a culture they can’t imagine leaving. Employee recognition programs play an important role in that effort and a key component of an effective program is recognition from peers. Meetings and events are the perfect venue to accomplish this goal and foster a community-like celebration.
No matter the scale, a small regional meeting of 100 or large national meeting with 2,000+ attendees, events are an opportunity to recognize top performers while they are among their peers. And more importantly, it allows for a shared, in-person celebration of the accomplishment. Research has shown that peers are the top driver of satisfaction in the workplace. Additionally, for those in attendance who weren’t recognized, seeing the celebration could spark the inspiration they need to achieve more.
Meetings and events can help reinforce cultural attitudes, but it takes consistency to build it. Employees want to know their efforts matter to the organization, that what they’re doing makes a difference. A survey from Globoforce shows that 73% of employees who have been recognized consistently over a period of 6 months felt engaged at work. Moreover, employee recognition helps them feel appreciated, which in turn helps them feel good about themselves and the job they’re doing.
No matter how formalized your recognition program is, if leadership fails to consistently activate it, it won’t do any good. Employees don’t leave good companies or employers, they leave managers. Management must make it a habit to seek out and reward excellence. By regularly engaging in employee recognition efforts, management also demonstrates the importance of the program.
What happens once your recruits are in the door, do you have a system in place to train and develop them? Additionally, do you know who your best performers are? Are there metrics in place to track their influence in the organization? It’s important to monitor high performers to ensure they are challenged sufficiently. It also informs the training and development opportunities they need to grow professionally. A study in the International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences found “organizations that train and develop their employees see improved profitability while cultivating more positive attitudes toward profit orientation.”
As competition for top talent increases, many organizations find it increasingly difficult to compete on salary alone. A culture of recognition based on a well-executed employee recognition program can help your organization stand-out. It may also act as the difference-maker for a recruit. Competition for top talent will only continue to increase, and what you offer in terms of compensation will always play an important role in attracting top talent. More and more, however, it’s the non-tangible things such as company culture that will figure prominently in setting your organization apart from the rest.
A true employee recognition plan goes far beyond simply thanking your employees for a job well done. Management needs to tell employees specifically which efforts they demonstrated that upheld the company’s values, and how that behavior leads to achievement the company’s key objectives. It offers employees context into what value their efforts play in the big picture. Everyone wants to see meaning in their work, and often time, are just in need of a reminder. Meetings and events are an excellent forum to provide these reminders, and to celebrate achievement as a group.