Guide To Planning the Best Hybrid and Virtual Corporate Events
When the pandemic first hit and companies were forced to either let people go or rapidly transition to remote work, many employees were happier with their jobs than they were before COVID-19. What happened next?
As the months came and went and the pandemic persisted, many workers felt that happiness gradually wear off as profound uncertainty, isolation, and loneliness crept in. Over the past two years, authors Steven Van Cohen and Ryan Jenkins researched this phenomenon and found that 72% of employees felt lonely at least once per month, and 55% felt lonely at least once per week. (Their book, Connectable: How Leaders Can Move Teams From Isolated to All In, launches in March 2022.)
In the age of the Great Resignation and a rise in the remote workforce, nearly three-quarters of companies are struggling to attract and hire talent. On the one hand, according to Gartner, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% by 2030 as Gen Z takes the workforce by storm. On the other hand, according to Gallup, workers who are not engaged or are actively disengaged are twice as likely to leave.
As the workforce grows and becomes increasingly complex, organizations need to do everything in their power to keep workers engaged and happy — even when they’re working remotely. If you’re wondering how to boost morale to retain more employees, hybrid and virtual corporate events are your answer to bringing distributed teams together and creating a sense of camaraderie, belonging, and inclusion in an uncertain world.
How a Virtual or Hybrid Event Can Help Boost Morale
If you want to keep employees engaged, you need to do everything you can to help build community and a sense of belonging among team members. A Recruiter.com survey found that 66% of employees consider the relationships they have with their colleagues to be among the most important factors when deciding whether to stay or go.
At the same time, the survey found that 92% of employees would like to participate in virtual corporate team-building events with their colleagues at least once per quarter, with 37% indicating they’d prefer monthly events and 36% wanting weekly events.
The benefits of virtual team-building activities abound, too. According to Gallup research, virtual team-building activities not only lead to an increase in employee performance rate, but they also result in 41% lower absenteeism and 21% higher profitability. Here are some additional benefits of virtual or hybrid corporate events:
- Promotes collaboration
- Supports innovation
- Increases productivity
- Reduces siloes
- Encourages flexibility
- Champions accessibility and inclusivity
- Reinforces positive culture
Virtual and hybrid events not only encourage team members to develop stronger bonds with each other and overcome feelings of isolation, but they also show employees that your business cares about employee well-being and culture.
How To Plan a Virtual or Hybrid Corporate Event
Virtual and hybrid corporate events sound like an exciting idea, but you’re probably wondering how to plan and execute a meaningful corporate event experience. Here are some steps to get you started:
Pick the Best Format
First things first: Are you going to have an in-person, hybrid, or virtual event? Although some in-person events have returned, many have been tabled because of Omicron and other variants. If you want to have an in-person event, we recommend hosting a hybrid event to ensure folks who are not ready to mingle in public can still attend.
At the same time, a virtual or hybrid event expands your reach significantly — to people all over the world and across time zones. In fact, many corporate events can be more effective as virtual or hybrid events, including the following:
- Sales kickoffs (SKO)
- Team-building events
- Awards ceremonies
- Product announcements
Establish Event Goals
Once you’ve chosen the type of event you plan to have, you need to set clear, attainable goals and expectations. For example:
- If you’re hosting an SKO, your goal may be for employees to leave the event with new information and skills for selling better, as well as a better sense of belonging.
- If you’re hosting a team-building event, your goal may be for employee satisfaction survey results to show increases in happiness or feelings of belonging.
- If you’re hosting a product announcement, your goal may be for employees to have a greater understanding of and ability to talk about your solution.
Overall, your goals should align with the type of event you host, as well as any goals set by human resources for employee satisfaction, happiness, and retention.
Set the Budget
After you’ve settled on the format and goals, you need to determine how much money your organization can invest in the event. If you end up with an idea bigger than your budget, consider partnering with event sponsors who can cover some expenses.
Remember to treat your internal corporate events like you’d treat an external event and don’t skimp on the budget. Your employees are just as important as your customers. Be sure you think about your corporate events as an investment — not an expense.
Choose the Attendees
Will your corporate event be open to a specific team, office, department, or type of employee? Or will it be open to the whole company? A virtual or hybrid SKO, for example, may offer keynotes for the entire company but offer tailored sessions only for employees in sales or customer success. Team-building events may be organized by department, with everyone gathering for a final keynote on company culture and vision.
Build an Agenda
Next, it’s time to brainstorm how to achieve your event goals. No matter who your attendees are or what your goals are, we recommend starting with a keynote to set expectations and explain what the event entails. Then, you can set session tracks based on attendee type or goal.
Make sure you bake in free time, entertainment, and wellness opportunities, too. Today, employees want more than to just sit in front of a screen for another webinar. Consider sending out swag kits, choose-your-own meal gift cards, or other items to get your employees ready and excited for the event, too!
Need more ideas for planning your next corporate event? Check out these “30 Corporate Team Building Event Ideas and “27 Unforgettable Corporate Event Themes.”
How To Achieve Virtual or Hybrid Corporate Event Success
As you plan your next virtual or hybrid corporate event, keep the following three tips in mind:
1. Evaluate Success and Measure KPIs
After you determine what you hope your event will accomplish, you can gauge its success by using post-event surveys and Net Promoter Scores to see whether you met your objectives and whether attendees enjoyed the experience. This data can help you plan better, more impactful events in the future.
2. Invest in Event Technology
Running a virtual or hybrid event is much easier with the right tools in place. For example, an event management platform can help you with several aspects of putting on an event, including event marketing, event orchestration, and sponsor management. With the right event tech, you can create an event experience that sticks with your employees for weeks and months to come.
At the same time, you’ll get access to scores of data, including event check-ins, session analytics, cost-to-revenue ratios, revenue by promo code, and more. You can then leverage that data to iterate and ensure your next virtual event is even more successful.
3. Choose the Right Event Partner
At the end of the day, technology by itself won’t solve all your problems. Ultimately, you need to join forces with an event partner that has seen it all and can help you optimize your event. From video production to ticketing and audience engagement features to your event website, the right event partner will be able to guide you through the process from conception to execution. With the right partner, you increase the likelihood of achieving event success.
Make It Memorable: Plan a Corporate Event for the Ages
Because we know that more employees are feeling isolated than ever before, be sure to offer plenty of corporate events throughout the year to keep everyone plugged into your company’s vision. Focus on giving your employees the love, respect, and support you offer your customers. At the same time, because meeting fatigue is real, always focus on quality over quantity when planning corporate events.