How to Improve Employee Experience With Corporate Events (& Why Now Is the Time to Do It)

Christina Zurek
Christina Zurek

employees at event playing foosball

The world is in a tenuous state. Yet, despite continued uncertainty, I can’t help feeling like a gleeful child the night before their birthday as I optimistically look to our eventual return to “normal.” And there are few things I’m more excited about than a return to event experiences and ITA Group traditions, including our holiday celebrations, impromptu happy hours and, of course, our annual Sales Kickoff and All Employee-Owner Meeting held each fall (more on those events later 😉).

I’ve seen the positive, powerful impact these gatherings have had on my own employee experience. After a successful event, I feel more aligned to our organizational goals, pride in our shared successes and connected to our community. So today, I wanted to share some insight on why you should still be planning and holding these types of events—even if you’re worried they won’t quite feel “normal” yet, either.

How Employee & Corporate Events Improve Employee Experience

In our research, employees shared that during times of uncertainty and disruption, they crave acknowledgement, validation of their efforts and inspiration from their leaders. While the pandemic is an unprecedented disruption, organizations have coped with the implications of market, economic and organizational churn throughout history and, through all those times, have developed strategies to inspire and motivate employees when they need it most.

Related: Does your culture support resilience in the face of disruption? Read our white paper about five ways to help your people bounce back from the unexpected.

Here are three reasons events support the needs mentioned above and, ultimately, improve employee experience:

1. Clarifying organizational expectations.

Human beings want to understand what is expected of them, a belief that goes far beyond just wanting to be “in the know” and is rooted in a biological need for the perception of control. Events are a great way to share your goals and expectations because not only is everybody hearing a consistent message, but they’re also experiencing it in a high-impact way.

2. Creating culture-driven shared experiences.

Few topics have been discussed as much as the importance of sustaining company culture during the pandemic. The communal nature of events presents a unique opportunity to bolster your cultural norms and behaviors.

3. Establishing your company as an employer of choice.

As the war for talent escalates, organizations offering appealing and innovative employee experiences will win.

Why Your Event Objective Should Be Your First Priority

It can be tempting to fixate on the type of event you’re having and work backwards into the attendee experience from there. While the event format is important, your event strategy should first prioritize key objectives. Start by asking yourself and other stakeholders important questions about why you’re having the event in the first place and the desired outcome.

The two most common objectives for our clients’ (and our own) employee and corporate events include:

1. Reinforcing shared behaviors and goals, especially in the wake of a significant change (e.g., M&A activity, a culture change initiative or major disruption)

2. Appreciating above-and-beyond performance, either for select individuals or organization-wide

Once your event objective is clear, you’ll be better positioned to make decisions about the experience your people should have—whether that’s virtual or in person.

Examples to Inspire Your Next Employee Event Experience

As with other aspects of employee experience, some pandemic-spurred changes will last long term, and events are no exception. Expect to see a combination of virtual and live events in the future and be ready to use each as needed based on your objective and needs.

Here are three event experience examples to ensure, no matter what the future holds (or what your unique workforce needs may be), you can include events as part of your employee engagement strategy.

collage of in-person event attendees and virtual event attendees

1. How to Unite Employees in Disparate Roles With a Virtual Event

Following a series of M&A activity, a healthcare system was looking for a unique way to align their 20,000 employees around a shared mission, values and organizational brand. Since employees were mostly based in hospitals, it wasn’t possible to bring them all together in one location, so we helped them create satellite event experiences. 

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attendees in masks at incentive travel event during Covid-19 pandemic

2. How to Recognize Top Performers While Ensuring Peace of Mind in Unpredictable Times

One ITA Group client remained committed to finding a way to maintain its decades-old top performer recognition—a mainstay known for rewarding both employees and their families—despite the pandemic. After completing a thorough risk assessment, stakeholders determined the event would move forward with heightened risk mitigation factors to ensure attendee and community safety. 

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Related: Wondering if your organization is ready to return to live events? Check out our advice to help you decide.


ITA Group team members attend multi-day event

3. How to Boost Employee Enthusiasm & Buy-In for Company Goals Using an Immersive Event

My final example is close to home—it’s one of ITA Group’s own employee events. A multi-day event, this annual experience is a time for all team members to join in activities designed to improve our skills, increase collaboration and reinvigorate our passion for another year of helping clients accomplish their own objectives. Equal parts learning and having fun, it’s the highlight of the year for most of us. 

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The Role of Employee & Corporate Events in the Future of Work

If we’ve learned one thing from this challenging time, it’s the importance of meaningfully connecting with each other. Employee events offer an opportunity to foster those connections while also working toward your organizational and employee engagement goals, including building your culture, improving employee motivation and elevating the perception of your organization as an employer of choice.

To learn more about how ITA Group has helped organizations captivate, motivate and celebrate employees through events, check out our Employee Event Portfolio.

Christina Zurek

Christina Zurek

Christina is an experienced leader with a passion for improving the employee experience, employee engagement and workplace culture. Few things excite her as much as an opportunity to try something unfamiliar (be that a project, development opportunity, travel destination, food, drink or otherwise), though digging in to a research project is a close second.