von Nortal cloud team , February 10, 2021
After a year of remote work at the Nortal US office, the events team has embraced virtual engagements as a way to keep employees connected with their colleagues. Grace Abild, Leigh Wunderlin, Berit Wick, Krysta Rose, and Alexa Bickel gave their insight and tips on planning virtual events that will keep employees engaged.
The events team transitioned quickly to virtual engagements. Their dynamic group was equipped with individual skill sets, such as strategizing creative ideas, creating engaging messaging, project management, negotiating vendor pricing, and design capabilities that allowed for a quick turnaround in events. The quarterly fall All Hands was an early success, seeing record high attendance compared to past in-person company All Hands events. Hosting this event virtually made it more accessible for out-of-state employees to join, while creating an engaging virtual experience with interactive games, state-of-the-business transparency from leadership, and ending with a happy hour, brought about the highest employee attendance and engagement in a virtual event.
Encouraging people to turn on their cameras while actively engaging during these events presented a challenge for the team. Additionally, not having a baseline of data in terms of what types of event offerings to provide at first, required quick thinking and creative ideas. Both of these challenges were addressed through trial and error, in addition to employee feedback.
“Because the events team has their own individual specialty skills and background, this plays really well into the creativity and planning of our virtual events.” – Krysta Rose, Director of Global Alliances
Photo from Tea Tasting with Miro Tea
Overall, virtual engagements bring about a sense of connection and positivity to the remote employee experience. They allow team members a chance to interact with employees that are outside of their project teams and offer a personal presence to an online interaction. Whether it’s virtual employee orientation, game nights, or providing employees a space to socialize with their colleagues, virtual events can create a sense of community at work. However, not everyone is interested in attending virtual events, this may be for a myriad of reasons but it’s important to give them the option to join. Additionally, giving people incentives for attending virtual events can show the value companies place on participation.
“Virtual events impact the well-being of employees in a positive way because it enables connection with their colleagues while we are all in this remote work situation right now.” – Grace Abild, Office Manager
To start, listening to employee feedback about the types of remote engagement they find interesting is a good way to understand varied interests and potential event success. Creating avenues for people to communicate their interests, for example through internal communication interest channels like Slack, can help align remote activities with employee interests. Another place to look for inspiration is local businesses. Leveraging personal connections to partner and host events with, create unique virtual experiences, mutually beneficial to employees and exposure and reach of the local business. Examples of events held at Nortal include: wine sampling, yoga instruction, coffee and tea tastings, and a state of real estate investment webinar.
“Because we have a wide variety of Slack channels on different topics and hobbies, our team has been able to gather event ideas directly from employee interests.” – Berit Wick, HR Generalist
Photo from Coffee Tasting event with Columbia St. Roastery
“The most fun event to run has been our Gabe Ross JSPaint events. One of our employees led the team through painting classes on JSPaint, with each participant showing off their creations at the end. This allowed our employees to have fun and laugh all while staying engaged in the activity.” – Grace Abild, Events Manager
Photo from a Gabe Ross event
Gathering feedback is critical and can be done in many ways. Sending out regularly scheduled surveys to ask people their thoughts and improvements to the overall employee experience is an easy way to collect input. Onboarding surveys to collect new hire perspectives on remote onboarding and their hobbies is another way to gather data around employee interests. It’s also important to reach out to employees individually and invite them to participate. This creates an inclusive environment and excitement around remote events.
“I think our incentives substantially impact employee morale and attendance to virtual events. From our biweekly prize raffles to our coffee gift cards, people like being recognized for their participation. In addition to small incentives, our events team also brings our employees together through internal engagement posts and care packages. While these initiatives aren’t events, they encourage employees to post photos in our internal Slack channels and get conversation going, which is our goal. ” – Grace Abild, Office Manager
Another way to increase employee engagement is to create regularly scheduled internal engagement posts. This can range from asking employees how their weekend was, to creating exercise challenges, or posting health resources. Empowering employees to chat with one another and continue the conversation outside of work topics can enable your company’s culture to thrive during remote work.
“Making engagement posts in our employee communication channels have helped us create different ways to share our culture and start conversations.” – Leigh Wunderlin, HR Business Partner
“I think, moving forward, events throughout industries will be a mix between virtual and in-person. Nortal is hiring a lot of remote workers right now, so I know it will mostly be a hybrid style of events at our company. This year, our events team is focused more on smaller team events to increase cross collaboration.” – Grace Abild, Office Manager
Planning engaging virtual events is imperative to employee engagement and experience, especially while we foster a culture of remote work. Creating an avenue for employee feedback and ideas on company-wide events can help build an engaging remote experience.