What is the dollar investment of one all-hands employee meeting? Forget the logistics: the venue, support staff, communications, and other costs. For a minute, just consider the salaries involved.
Assume 10,000 employees making an average of $50,000 per year, or about $24 per hour. For a two hour meeting (with 30 minutes of additional time for employees to show up and then get back to their desks): 24 times 10,000 times 2.5 is $60,000.
Throw in the executives and other senior leaders in attendance. It’s not unrealistic to say that your all-employee event, budgeted at $20,000, is actually costing you $90,000+ considering standard budgeted items plus time investment and other hidden costs.
Many companies conduct all hands meetings three or more times a year. And we have not begun to account for similar investments in all-manager meetings, executive off-sites, sales kickoffs and more, where the attendees list is shorter but the dollar value of their time is higher.
It raises the question: are you getting value out of large-scale meetings? Best practice strategic communications can help multiply the effectiveness of these meetings in many ways. Here are three quick suggestions to get you started.
Improve the quality of follow-up surveys: Many organizations survey attendees about their experience after the event. However generic questions such as “what went well” or “where could we improve” will give you scattered, generic responses that are hard to act on.
The same goes for quantitative assessments that ask employees if the meeting was “a good use of their time” on a scale from 1 to 5. What does a “3” mean in relation to that question, anyway?
Instead, consider including one or two of the following questions as ways to help you sharpen employee feedback:
- What two to three messages will you remember about this meeting a few days from now?
- Did you hear something today that particularly excited or interested you?
- Will you be taking any actions, applying new information, or making any changes as a direct result of this meeting? If so, please provide details.
- Did you find any of the meeting topics, messages or examples confusing? If so, please describe them.
- Was any topic or message missed that you had hoped or expected to hear? Provide details.
Be clear about the message and the action: You would not fund a $100,000 project that lacked objectives. Do your large-scale meetings have them? As people walk out the door at the end of the meeting, they are likely to remember two to three things. A week later, you will be lucky for them to remember one. Are you clear about the one message you would like people to remember?
The best way to help people hold on to a piece of content is to attach it to an action. Does your main message have an associated action?
More follow through: Surveying after a meeting is table-stakes. Beyond that, follow up any large-scale meeting at least two additional times:
- Within a day or two of the meeting: summarize key points in writing and reiterate any actions required of participants
- Roughly a week after the meeting: report on top-level post-event survey results, reinforce the messages from the week prior, and commit to additional follow on actions and communications as appropriate
Want to know more? Meetings are an essential part of key change initiatives. Basic execution on meeting practices and protocols can make a significant difference in your rates of success.
If you are interested in learning more about change that sticks, register for the IABC Heritage Region Annual Conference in October and stop by my presentation with Megan Hogan on Behavior Change that Sticks.