6 Ways to Engage Employees at Your Next Event

Craig Chaplin

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In a 2014 survey, more than 78 percent of Millennials said they prefer spending their money on experiences over material things. But these days, technology has us so glued to our phones, constantly connected to virtual conversations or Instagramming our breakfasts, that we rarely find the chance to truly connect or have meaningful real-world interactions with other people.

 

Live events are the best opportunity to drive employee engagement with memorable face-to-face experiences that make it easy for them to interact with one another and build real connections. That’s the true value of having live events in general, and it’s more important and more relevant than ever before.

 

However, it’s equally important that these events are constantly offering new ways to engage employees by providing new experiences as well as acknowledging how directly valuable your employees are to the success of your business.

 

Make the Experience Worth It for Them, as Much as for You

 

There’s plenty of research to show that the quality of our social relationships (or a lack of them) can have a direct correlation to our overall health and well-being. If employees feel deprived of these connections at work or if they feel as though the work they do doesn’t really matter, then they’re much less likely to stay or to enjoy what they do. According to a Forbes article published last year, 66 percent of employees say that’s enough to make them leave.

 

Putting people first is about connecting the most vital elements of your company’s success: employees and spreading positivity. Employees are reminded why they love working with each other and why they love working for your company. Recalibrating and reaffirming their passion reminds them that they’re in the right place and that their work really matters. There’s no better format than a live face-to-face experience to do just that.

 

To make these events successful and the experiences worth it, start with these six ways to engage employees:

 

1. Invite participation in the overall conversation.

Gone are the days of inviting everyone into a large room and talking at them for a few hours. That isn’t exactly an event; it’s a lecture. Employees want to feel that their opinions matter and that they have a chance to be heard, so create a platform where they can be. From elevating your high-performing employees to help deliver and advocate for your messages to creating ways for more audience interaction and opinion sharing, it’ll help inspire the rest of the team members and spark more dynamic conversations among them. It also allows for easier ways to anecdotally measure your success.

 

2. Be inspiring; stay relevant.

What will inspire your teams to take action? Sharing company goals and future strategies can often feel rather cold and disconnected to the daily grind happening within the business. Employees need to understand a clear vision, and you should take them on an inspiring journey to get there. That’s where storytelling comes into play. A clear message map would help each individual presenter tell his or her own piece of one connected story more effectively. Adding anecdotal stories of relevant personal experiences can also help your presenters appear more human, empathetic, and connected to the company mission.

 

3. Give greater context.

People need to understand the “why” behind things, not just the “what” and “how,” so encourage your leaders to build those details into their presentations. That’s especially true if you have difficult news to share or face challenging times ahead. Industries and businesses are transforming faster than ever before, so explaining the reason and purpose behind any disruption or reorganization helps reassure your employees and results in a more pragmatic message. Transparency and honesty truly go a long way.

 

4. Keep the experience fresh and unexpected.

It’s easy to fall into the “same event as last year” formula. Let me guess: same meeting, same objectives, same presenters, same attendees. It happens all the time. That’s even more of a reason to keep changing up the format and the attendee experience — even if the venue or agenda still remains largely consistent. People want to see something new, cool, and memorable. In addition, consider crowdsourcing aspects of the event and allow employees more involvement in helping shape, design, personalize, and share their experience.

 

5. Share new or different perspectives.

It’s very easy for employees to get tunnel vision, especially when they’ve been inside the same organization for years. Inviting new voices into the experience — be it customers, patients, fans, external partners and stakeholders, or other internal departments — helps to show the opportunity from a new perspective, reveals the incredible impact the company has from the viewpoint of others, and uncovers what’s ultimately important to stay focused on moving forward.

 

6. Follow up, or they won’t follow through.

If you hold the year’s best live event but fail to follow up with your employee base afterward, then your impact will be lost. The follow-up to an event can often be just as important as the event itself, but many companies still see it as a “nice to have” extension to the event. Leveraging existing digital platforms with content that reinforces the event message, shows ongoing progress, celebrates success, and encourages employee feedback, is a great place to start and help measure the long-term effectiveness of your event.

 

Today, people want to work for companies that are transparent, that take 360-degree approaches, that value dialogue from all parts of the business, and that recognize the vital importance of their people. Your next employee event needs to be people-focused, and with these six engagement strategies, every one you host will be just that.