How to get best value from corporate events !
Corporate events represent a significant investment, not just of money, but of time. In fact, corporate events typically take up 1% of your total available working hours and staff budget.
With all corporate events, it is important to be clear about the objectives. These objectives should tie in to corporate goals, and the type of event you have will be strongly influenced by the outcome you are trying to achieve.
The objectives are often psychological, such as to reward staff for a good year or to overcome internal barriers between departments. A key choice is whether your aim is a positive or negative one. That is, are you trying to build on success and reinforce much of the good that is being done already. In that case, you should be considering rewarding staff with a morale-boosting time away from the workshop. Or are you trying to overcome psychological barriers that hinder communication. This requires a very different approach, where you try to establish relationships between people who don’t normally interact.
Once you have defined your goals, and decided on a general approach, the ‘psychology’ of a corporate event needs as much planning and coordination as the logistics of transport, accommodation, activities, break times and meals. For example, suppose you are wanting to build better relationships between management and staff. You can do this by mixing them in groups and/or at tables during mealtimes. However, left to their own devices they might naturally sit with their colleagues and friends, so you need to ensure they mix, without it appearing too contrived. You can do this using methods such as:
- Briefing everyone beforehand to encourage them to mix
- Producing a formal seating plan
- Dividing people onto tables using random criteria such as date birth
- Asking every other person to swap tables or seats between courses
There may be other ideas that are more appropriate for your group. Whatever you decide to do, the important point is that you need to plan the psychology of the event as much as the logistics.
The ‘psychological planning’ you need to do not only includes the corporate event itself, but also what happens afterwards. A major problem with corporate events is that they can achieve a great deal on the day, but as soon as people go back to the workplace, the environmental cues invoke all the old behaviors and things quickly return to the way they were. You might need to consider doings things such as:
- identifying and removing, where possible, boundaries and markers in the working environment that permanently divide people into groups: eg: desk arrangements, different dress codes
- creating ongoing working parties or cross-organizational process teams (with real objectives) to maintain the initiative and break down the barriers between team islands
- ensuring that the appreciation shown to staff (and to spouses for their support) is maintained throughout the year, with reward and recognition schemes, social events and celebrations for key achievements as they happen.