Gone are the days when white collar and knowledge workers have to inhabit computer-laden cubicles to get their work done. Instead, offices can serve as social hubs for community happy hours and places for meetings, networking, and idea generation. This paradigm shift has seen 60% of companies redesign offices, so they become more laidback and flexible spaces with café-like layouts. Some employees prefer the distraction-free zone that company offices offer, not to mention the more precise distinction between work and family time. So, floorspace must be dedicated to employees who like working at the office daily, but work zones should no longer dominate company offices. Offering snacks and beverages is an excellent idea to keep drop-in employees fueled.
In organizations where a positive corporate culture is a by-the-way goal, senior managers offload the responsibility of event organization to employees at short notice. Unless an employee enthusiastically volunteers, this is a surefire way to create an event that makes no material impact on the brand's internal culture and has close to zero morale-boosting vibes. So, appoint a dedicated person to the responsibility. If that person is you, take time to put thought into your event and plan contingencies to make all employees feel relaxed and absorbed.
You can replicate watercooler moments virtually. They might not occur as organically as they would in the office, but with your assistance, they can have similar effects. So, how do you facilitate these random interactions? Use breakout 'rooms' during virtual hang-outs. Video conferencing platforms let you converge as a big group and divide into dozens of sub-groups. HR managers can allocate clusters, and there are options for participants to wander into various groups. If your company has fewer than 20 employees, you can hold a speed chatting session where employees spend three minutes catching up with every other employee.
Organize informal events where employees can kick back and enjoy themselves. We're talking ice breakers, game nights, individual and group contests for pure fun, and productivity competitions. Group contests can sometimes unearth leadership skills in individuals who aren't currently managers. Schedule these events for Mondays or Wednesdays (mid-week hump days) to ease employees into the new work week or offer respite after two and a bit days of hard work. Employees must switch their cameras on and unmute their mics to come as close to an in-person meetup as possible. Sorry folks—disembodied voices are off the table, so brush your hair and swap your PJs for real clothes. Consider the calendar for themed events like Halloween or cultural celebrations.
You can organize:
They may be less frequent, but in-person gatherings are a substantial part of the employee engagement mix. Shared physical experiences build off-screen memories and deeper bonds. Incentivize event attendance and inter-departmental gatherings by using expense account policies. Here are some ideas to get you brainstorming:
Both hybrid and in-person events allow employees to learn what makes their colleagues tick and what ticks them off. This awareness cultivates trust and empathy and can diffuse into projects and improve collective performance.
Use your company intranet or emails to build anticipation around an upcoming event. No matter how old employees are, they love prizes, so make the stakes known. For example, are you handing out gift vouchers, paid time off, decorative plaques for bragging rights, or a big-ticket item? Consider hiring an MC to lift spirits and maintain the energy during biannual special occasions. Be creative and incorporate your company's mission and vision in proceedings.
Treat your employees as well as you treat your best customers or clients and request feedback from them. You'll find out what aspects of your events work and what you need to tweak. Employee suggestions and preferences take the guesswork out of event planning. You can also send out anonymous job satisfaction surveys to gauge how the company is doing at a macro level. Distribute the survey to individuals at all levels, functions, and locations. The anonymity ensures honest responses, and you can hone in on patterns, broach the topic with senior management, conduct focus groups with employees, and initiate changes accordingly. This forum makes employees feel like their opinions are being heard.
Employees appreciate it when companies bolster their skills. You can organize workshops or compile a line-up of impressive educational guest speakers. Communicate the idea that employees have coveted front-row seats to see this influential opinion leader and highlight opportunities for virtual Ask Me Anythings (AMAs).
Just because you're hosting a virtual or hybrid event doesn't mean you can't include tactile elements to make the occasion stand out. When employees are scattered over distant locations, they can feel like a unit with the help of an event dress code. Or you can send them an event package with accessories they'll need to play or participate, third-party treats, and branded merch that lasts well beyond the event and serves as a reminder of group identity. Care packages are particularly impactful during remote onboarding processes.
Employee engagement puts a virtuous cycle in motion, and you will see a return on your investment. If your organization has a solid culture and reputation, you'll attract better employees and retain them. And your company will consistently produce high-quality work, develop a competitive advantage, and draw new customers. There are costs attached to recruitment, so employee retention is optimal, especially when remote work allows you to access the best talent globally.
The world's favorite employers make employees feel valued and equip them to do their best. But you don't have to be a Google or a Meta to take care of your employees. A positive company culture is possible regardless of company size, industry, or budget. Here's looking at you, Mom and Pop stores.
Don't just hire for talent, education, and experience. Hire the people who are a cultural fit for your organization, no matter their age, race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality. These demographic factors bake thought diversity into your company culture, which is fantastic for problem-solving and innovation and keeps complacency at bay. But someone with a personality at odds with your company culture may struggle to settle in for the long-term. When recruiting and interviewing, ensure at least three people can evaluate each candidate and keep anti-discrimination laws in mind.
According to a Glassdoor survey, most employees believe that sound workplace culture is more significant than salary. Regular events are essential, but a healthy and collaborative working environment also involves managerial training. Managers must be good listeners who are transparent, culturally competent, and well-versed in best practices related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Don't make promises you can't keep. Communicate expectations early on and support your teams with one-on-one calls to nip issues in the bud. Check on workloads to prevent burnout, and demonstrate gratitude for a job well done. Remember, managers are models for behavior, so those with grumpy faces and pessimistic attitudes have a trickle-down effect on employee morale.
Perks like free smoothies and work anniversary presents are great, but employees need respect first and foremost and a work-life balance. Stress-inducing work weeks between 80 and 100 hours are unsustainable even if an employee is at a life stage where they can dedicate this amount of time and effort to the company.
Whether you're celebrating a return to the office or having a hybrid or virtual employee engagement event, Outsnapped can add the pop of fun you need to make the occasion more memorable. Our classic photo booths and modern ring light selfie cameras perfectly complement in-person experiences wherever they occur. And our virtual photo booths with themes and event-specific stickers give remote employees a light-hearted moment of connection. You can use Outsnapped for workplace recognition, company headshots, and camaraderie-forging festivities. Contact us for more information about our customized services and logistics.