Long before the pandemic, many organizations struggled with employee engagement. But now, it’s an even tougher hill to climb. Hybrid and remote work have become a new norm. As a result, the way we relate with colleagues is different. Indeed, the very nature of work culture has changed. So in this new environment, what can employee events do to lift engagement? For specific ideas, read on…
Maintaining work relationships is hard — especially now, as businesses strive to adapt to a post-lockdown world. Finding occasions to connect with peers isn’t easy. Collaboration is often cobbled together virtually. Trust is more difficult to build. And weaker communication makes problems harder to solve.
No wonder relationships among individuals and teams have become stilted. And these weakened workplace relationships are ultimately diminishing organizational productivity, innovation and success. This is a compelling case to revisit your organization’s existing employee engagement strategies.
How Engagement Affects Employee Success
When employees don’t feel connected to their work, they’re less likely to be motivated and engaged. This leads to numerous issues. Disengaged employees communicate less and achieve less. They can have a negative impact on customer experience. Research also shows that disengaged employees cause 60% more errors than their engaged counterparts.
In contrast, highly engaged employees are more likely to show up for work and share ideas. They’re also 18% more productive. Perhaps most importantly, they experience greater job satisfaction. This means they’re less likely to look elsewhere for a different position.
Engagement saves organizations from unwanted talent turnover, unnecessary recruitment costs, lost productivity, and potentially unhappy customers. But in this new era of flexible work, how can reinvestment in work relationships elevate engagement? And how can employee events help?
Where Do Employee Events Fit-In Today?
Many organizations are hesitant to bring back events. Post-pandemic culture may seem to have moved beyond in-person gatherings, but companywide special occasions can be powerful tools for boosting morale. When thoughtfully designed, events can be used to recognize employee achievements, celebrate successes, and create a sense of unity and togetherness.
All these factors help create a culture of collaboration and camaraderie that boosts employee engagement. Employee events can also humanize your organization, not just for employees but also for their families, for customers, and for other stakeholders.
Ultimately, the power of shared experience is just as relevant now as it was in the past. Perhaps more so. After all, we are social animals. And events remind us how to care about each other and unite around a common purpose.
5 Ways Employee Events Help Foster Connection
In the fog of the pandemic, many of us have forgotten how to host events. That’s to be expected. So let’s take a closer look at factors that can help your organization host successful gatherings. And what can leaders do to make events a priority again? Consider these tips:
1. Create a Team-Building Opportunity
Before you think about planning a large-scale event, first focus on helping co-workers meet one another again. In fact, so much time has passed, some newer team members may not have developed strong relationships yet. So, stage a team-building activity to help break down barriers, encourage collaboration, and establish more personal relationships.
The activity could be connected to work. For example, a Lego-building challenge would put team communication and problem solving to the test. But be sure to emphasize fun above all else. Simply socializing for the fun of it will build the kind of camaraderie that can improve employee belonging, trust, and morale.
2. Plan a Social Activity
A team-building event doesn’t have to be packaged that way. Simply getting people together to spend time laughing and bonding can be massively beneficial. You could host a casual social gathering such as a trivia night, happy hour at a local bar, a game night, or a catered lunch. These kinds of events encourage employees to relax and get to know each other in an informal setting.
Try scheduling activities like these regularly — say once a month. A regular pace gives people something to look forward to and lowers the pressure of a one-off event.
3. Host a Networking Event
Informal networking events let employees meet and develop stronger relationships. They also help break down silos and silences that tend to build up over time, especially in remote teams.
Of course, with a networking event, it’s critical not to fall into some traditional traps. Many of us have horrible memories of hierarchical networking events that promoted cliques and inappropriate behavior. Instead, focus on making your event accessible and welcoming. Lower the barrier to conversation — nobody should be left in a circle of higher-ups trying to get a word in.
4. Celebrate Employee Achievements
Celebrations are a great reason to get your team together socially to build connections. Celebrate employee accomplishments, such as promotions, anniversaries, or awards. This not only shines a spotlight on people who’ve earned recognition. It also sends an important signal that says you value people who work effectively and support your organization’s values.
If your main goal in hosting corporate events is to boost engagement, celebrating achievements is a prime way to do that. Feeling genuinely appreciated can have a major impact on a person’s feeling of engagement at work.
5. Try Volunteering Together
Offer opportunities for employees to volunteer together and give back to the community. This is an excellent way to build team spirit and encourage bonding. At the same time, volunteer opportunities reinforce a sense of purpose and remind everyone of your shared values.
Helping others has been shown to support physical and mental wellbeing. In fact, a Stanford Graduate School of Business study found that company-sponsored volunteering has a double impact. It promotes social bonds among co-workers and also boosts their sense of identification and belonging.
Final Notes on Events and Engagement
In today’s work environment, organizations are still grappling with fluid work structures and juggling new challenges and opportunities. All the more reason why we need to rebuild connections that can help people feel engaged. People want to feel engaged in their work. So, start offering events that help people to develop genuine human relationships. I assure you, your team will begin to operate more productively, more happily, and with greater enthusiasm.