Employee Events: Creating a Space for Connections

ITA Group
ITA Group

person interacting with a hand wall at an employee event

Organizations from the start-up level to Fortune 500 are looking for new ways to create events that not only bring people together but make people want to come together. Obviously, employee events are meant to benefit those who attend. They’re an opportunity to connect with other team members, learn new things, gain critical information or refine skills, or simply to celebrate achievements. Employee events need to be valuable to everyone involved; they need to be engaging, personal and, of course, memorable.

So what can you do to make your employee event the next FOMO-worthy happening? It’s easier than you might think. Below are five things you can try—and one thing you’ll want to avoid.

  1. Create an Employee Event Your Team Actually Wants to Attend
    Your first step to get people to attend your event is to create one they find compelling and engaging. Venue, theme and activities all play an important role in making the event irresistible. Ask your employees what kind of event they would attend. Once you know what your team likes (and doesn’t like), create an event experience that surpasses their expectations—something that stands out from their typical work day. This also means that if you hold the same event regularly, you should take steps to make each of them different from the last. That might entail using a different venue, creating a unique menu or incorporating different activities.

    Related: The holiday season is a great time to bring people together and celebrate with a little fun and frivolity. But is everyone having a great time? Here are some of the event spaces we’ve created to resonate with attendees—from those craving the spotlight to the wistful wallflower.
     
  2. Get the Word Out to Team Members Using Every Corporate Communication Available
    From the corporate intranet to email to the messenger service your organization uses, make sure you leverage every communication your company uses to let your team know about the event. Forgo sending a templated e-invite. Instead, create personalized and thoughtful messaging. Get creative and exhibit your company values. Explain why the event will be fun, interesting and productive. Most importantly, tell them how they’ll benefit by attending.
     
  3. Take Your Employees Out of the Office
    It doesn’t matter if your company has multiple conference rooms or fancy meeting spaces—for an elevated event experience, your employees need a change of scenery. Bars and restaurants are popular, but look for unusual, unique and non-traditional venues, like vineyards, mansions, boats, warehouses, or anywhere else your employees can have a new experience. The space itself can greatly influence the way people feel and how they interact. Exploring and learning about a new setting gives them something to connect over. Apart from that, unusual venues may ignite your employees’ creativity and set them on the best path for connecting with each other.
     
  4. Plan Activities That Entice & Engage
    Nothing encourages teamwork like an event spaces that features genuinely fun group activities. Whether it’s a game that encourages tactics and team strategy like laser tag or an activity that creates friendly competition like axe throwing, your employees will be thankful you didn’t set up a run-of-the mill retreat for them. By creating unique spaces to play, your team members will learn more about each other from interacting together in an exciting situation than they would have from hours of tackling discussion questions together in a conference room.
     
  5. Take Food Options Seriously
    Aside from the venue, food is one of the most important elements of any event.  Good food will bring people together, but bad food will drive them away. And don’t forget to take people’s dietary restrictions or the account. Have some vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes (among any other special dietary needs) so everyone has something to eat.

    Related: Event organizers have to do more than just provide a meal to keep attendees in their seats. Here are some trends that will help make your next event a surefire culinary celebration.
     
  6. DO NOT Skimp on the Budget
    Each year companies only receive a certain amount of money for employee events. Justifying the cost these company-wide, off-site events for your team can present a challenge. But the real question is: can you afford to forgo them?

    Related: Learn how to make the case for your internal events budget and boost engagement within your organization.

Research shows that only 32% of the current U.S. workforce is actively engaged. The good news is it doesn’t have to stay that way. Employees who attend strategically planned in-person events are much more likely to feel engaged with their jobs and their employer.

Running fruitful and engaging employee events can be challenging. However, if you communicate often, listen to your employees and transform these encounters into valuable experiences, you may get extraordinary results. Just don’t forget to treat your employees with respect. Be honest about your intentions, and truly invest the time and budget in making these interactions as interesting and meaningful as possible. Learn more about the kind of events you might consider for your team members in our blog post, 12 Bite-Size Tips to Transform Culture with Company Events.