How to create an engaging in-person event? It’s the question we get the most because organising engaging in-person events is what we do. The pandemic made some people doubt the usefulness of in-person events.
“Employee engagement has reached frightening lows in just about every industry, which understandably has leaders deeply worried and looking for answers to see them through the Great Reshuffle. All of this trouble started, so the logic often goes, when the pandemic forced many into remote work and we stopped being together. Surely bringing people back to working side by side and returning to in-person gatherings like learning events is the magical solution. Right?” (HBR, by Heidi Grant and Tal Goldhamer)
4 myths about In-Person Work, Dispelled
The article starts with 4 interesting myths about in-person learning:
- Myth #1: In-person learning is more effective
- Myth #2: In-person events help create (or strengthen) culture
- Myth #3: People need a break from their screens
- Myth #4: Networking and connection can only be done in person
People DO want in-person connection
“All that being said, people do want opportunities for in-person connection. A recent survey found that two-thirds of employees want some in-person work or collaboration opportunities post-pandemic. It also found that they want to be a part of a caring culture, and the natural expressions of warmth and empathy that give the impression of caring in humans can be clearer and more powerful when we’re physically together. That’s because we have all of the communication cues at our disposal: words, vocal tone, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. It can even be possible (if appropriate and welcome) to touch hands or hug.”
How to make the most of in-person events
The authors state that to make the most of those in-person opportunities for connection, we need to make them voluntary, strategic, and intentional.
As Herculean Alliance has been in Employee Engagement for decades, we couldn’t agree more. We advise the same to every new customer when we create an in-person event. We call it a moment that matters.
“You may be tempted to think you know what’s best for your people, but don’t force them to come together if they don’t want to. Respect your employees’ sense of what’s best for them and allow them to decide when and where they will return to in-person gathering as a function of their comfort level and circumstances. Autonomy and the feeling of choice have long been recognized as fundamental human motivators, and the companies that offer more of that can have an advantage in the competition for talent.”
At Herculean Alliance, we use many communication techniques to help people make a voluntary choice.
“People with little in common apart from the company they work for don’t usually do a lot of “connecting” with new people at events. What they do, overwhelmingly, is hang around the people they already know. Yes, new connections can happen when unfamiliar groups of people convene for short, episodic experiences; however, these interactions tend to be cordial but lacking in substance.”
“The real value of in-person events lies in deepening existing connections, particularly for teams of people who work together. That’s where the opportunity to send “social signals” — signals that convey our respect, liking, and empathy for others — benefit from our ability to amplify them through our physical presence (e.g., through smiles, lasting eye contact, gestures, etc.). These signals matter most for people whose connection is substantive — who have meaningful things in common, work together frequently, or share common goals.”
At Herculean Alliance, we advise our customers to connect a strategic message to a moment that matters. It works. You can touch the hearts, not just the head.
“The benefits of in-person connection don’t just “happen.” Conditions need to be created that encourage something beyond surface-level conversation and small talk, in both structured and unstructured ways. Decades of research have identified the kinds of activities that tend to enhance social bonding, which include:”
- Game playing and creative problem solving: Creates opportunities for cooperation, coordination, and synchronization. Recent research suggests that teams are more creative when physically together because the relatively narrow cognitive focus induced by video conferencing technology curbs creative idea generation.
- Storytelling and perspective sharing: Allows self-expression, the discovery of shared experiences, and the opportunity for affirmation and empathy.
- Engaging in rituals: Creates the opportunity to co-experience meaningful shared behaviours that signal a common identity or group membership.
- Having fun: Humor and laughter, music, natural movement (e.g., dance), fantasy, anticipation, surprise and, of course, delicious food and drink are universally human sources of pleasure. We feel more connected to those with whom we share moments of joy and delight.
If there’s one thing that sets Herculean Alliance apart from all other players, it is that we have a lot of experience in combining these components!
How to create your next company in-person event in the UAE?
Have a chat with our founder. We help customers measure and improve employee engagement through experts, private and public events, and technology. We use the language of gamification, storytelling and fun as a means to increase engagement. Feel free to look at some of our references like ACWA Power, Daman Health, Enoc, Jaguar Landrover and many others.