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Do business meetings and events strengthen company culture?

Meetings and corporate events can be associated with driving business growth via tradeshows and product launches, but what about using meetings and events to strengthen company culture?

The pandemic created change and opportunities for businesses and also created change within the global workforce, with many reconsidering the industry they worked in or the business they worked for. The “great resignation” was born, the task of how to obtain and retain talent became a reality for many, and the focus of business events strengthening company culture moved into the spotlight.

In a post-pandemic era, creating meaningful employee experiences and connecting people across hybrid or remote workforces can be a challenge. Ways in which businesses once collaborated or rewarded their employees may no longer be effective, valued, or achievable.

A business’s culture should unite a workforce toward a shared goal, and hosting meetings or events provides the perfect platform to bring everyone together with a shared vision. Events help to validate employees’ performance, promote creativity, boost morale and encourage a more focused workforce.

Marla Everett, Director, Consulting Solutions for Event Travel Management (ETM), explains, “The meetings and events industry was originally forecast to bounce back behind leisure and corporate, but in fact, it has been quite the opposite. In North America, ETM’s current transactions already exceed that of 2019. A large part of this can be attributed to a strong desire for in-person connection after extended periods of disconnectivity and resulting from many businesses moving to a remote or hybrid workforce which presents challenges to attracting and retaining employees. We are witnessing business events switch to more networking content and no longer just educational updates. The value and return on investment achieved by allowing employees to collaborate, connect, and for a business to showcase its core values which cement its company culture, go a long way to increase employee engagement, retention, recognition, and inclusivity.”

Marla Everett quote

The power of connection

If there has been one lesson learned as an outcome of the pandemic, it is that in-person connection can’t be successfully replaced by technology. The technology that assisted businesses to stay in contact has also contributed to online fatigue. Businesses may rethink how and when they use such technology and instead be more intentional about creating opportunities to connect people to purpose, the accomplishment of company goals, and one another.

Organizations need to create opportunities for hybrid workers to feel connected. Providing more physical space for collaboration and social interaction through meetings and events may make a significant difference, as can setting aside dedicated time for employees to network and gather socially.

A 2022 global culture study conducted by The O.C Tanner Institute found that when organizations provide opportunities for employees to get to know each other, there’s a significant impact:

O.C. Tanner Institute Global Culture Report Infographic

Opportunity for connection is crucial for hybrid employees. Connecting with colleagues and reconnecting with the organization and its purpose are the top reasons employees are eager to resume those in-person interactions, according to the study. Remote employees are becoming more common, and businesses are ramping up investment in remote offices around the country and the world. With any events planned, it will be important to consider how it bridges the gap between employees in different offices, cities, and continents.

There can sometimes be gaps between employees and their senior management or leadership teams. This gap can be prevented by providing employees with a place outside work to build a rapport with both peers and managers. Team building events can break down barriers, so employees have the opportunity to view their superiors as approachable instead of unapproachable. These types of events allow both sides of the party to understand one another outside of the office.

Hybrid workplace culture

An article from the Harvard Business Review discusses the importance of rebuilding bonds after the pandemic. People feel less linked to their companies and coworkers as work becomes virtual, and when connections weaken, more than the corporate culture is at risk. Employee engagement, satisfaction, and loyalty also suffer.

Hybrid work structures may require a strategy to foster collaboration and fairness. Employee recognition programs may also need reviewing, as they can significantly impact employee retention. Employee recognition should be honest, authentic, meaningful, and timely. Where there’s an opportunity, awards evenings or incentive events are a suggested solution to aid in building strong cultures that will sustain hybrid workers when working remotely.

Retaining talent

According to a Forbes survey, 66% of employees say they would quit their job if they felt underappreciated. As such, employee retention strategies are important to retaining a workforce. Events can influence recruitment but as a result of a retention-focused strategy.

To improve employee appreciation, a culture of recognition needs to be built. There are many ways in which businesses can do this, and presenting recognition during annual awards events to honor people’s achievements is one of them.

According to a recent study, The 2022 Essential Retention Guide, 41% of companies invest in employee retention by encouraging their teams to host team-building events or activities. Team-building events may assist with creating trust and acceptance among work groups.

Bamboo HR Guide

What type of company event is suitable?

What does the company stand for, and what are its core values? Businesses seeking to improve or change workplace culture can utilize meetings and events to promote company values, ensuring they are kept front of mind. They can also be used to recognize team members who achieve success and show the positive work habits the business wants others to emulate. They also present a great opportunity for colleagues to offer congratulations to people on their achievements, promoting positive behavior.

There is a myriad of corporate events that can be hosted, so it is important to plan one that best cements a company’s culture. Some examples are:

Charity events

Does the business have a primary charity they support that unites employees? Another consideration is to invite employees to nominate a charity. It is a great way to build culture and drive positive outcomes inside and outside of the business.

Company-sponsored events

Holding company-sponsored events for team building, including cross-functional teams, can help to prevent or reduce the odds of fragmentation which may have been propelled by the pandemic.

Incentive travel

A great way to motivate employees is with a one-in-a-lifetime incentive experience. Those who are rewarded and recognized are likely to feel valued and, as a result, will go a long way to improve employee loyalty and retention.

Sales kickoff

Designed for business development/sales teams to unite, help boost morale, build team trust and rapport, and ensure everyone understands the priorities for the year ahead.

Team-building

A great way to boost employee engagement, improve communication, stimulate a positive environment, improve productivity and invigorate company culture. It is also beneficial for new employees as it provides an opportunity to network with colleagues and build relationships.

Employee appreciation events

Recognition can be a powerful tool in any workplace, especially if it connects employees to purpose, accomplishment, and one another.

ETM is the specialist event management division of the CTM Group. ETM manages CTM’s annual All Stars Awards program, a company-wide employee appreciation event.

Tracey Edwards, Global Strategic Lead and General Manager, ETM, explains, “This CTM tradition was created to bring employees together for business planning, training sessions and to celebrate the achievements of those team members across the globe who go above and beyond in their contribution to the business drivers. The winners of those annual awards have demonstrated above and beyond behavior and performance against CTM’s corporate values and growth goals. Each year, the award winners are jetted off to various locations for a group familiarisation as a reward. Over the years, All Stars has brought together managers, team leaders, and high-performing All Stars winners from around the globe for an informative and rewarding short break to further cement the CTM culture that supports equality of opportunity, empowerment, collaboration, and recognition.”

Tracey Edwards quote

Employee experiences, interactions with others, and creating memories are at the core of company culture. Business events can become a central part of what the brand and employee value proposition is known for and may play a critical role in recruiting, retaining, and engaging employees. People want to work at a place that lives up to its core values and makes an effort to reward and validate its employees. Through the delivery of thoughtful and strategically planned events aligned with employee values and needs, culture can release a sense of shared purpose and foster an organization’s ability to succeed.

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