Year-end events – should you bother?

It’s that time of year, just past the half past mark, where the inevitable question arises at the boardroom table: “What are we going to do for our year end event this year?”

Blank stares and exasperated sighs follow, rooted in a belief that it doesn’t really matter what we do, it’ll be the same outcome as every year. The same people will come, some will leave early, others won’t leave at all and overall it’ll be a huge cost that delivers little value back to the business. Or will it?

At a time when some companies are wondering whether they should even be hosting year-end events, Leilani De Graad, Project Team Leader at Worx Group, says that they are actually great tools to help achieve business objectives. “Of course a year end event needs to be fun, but it could make a tangible difference if it has been designed to realise your business goals. The secret is in determining upfront exactly what those objectives are and then using every available opportunity to deliver on them.”

She provides a few practical examples of how this could work, beginning with the premise that a year-end function should never stand alone. Ideally, your year-end event is part of a larger internal campaign with your staff. “We once designed the year-end function as a culmination of a three-week campaign and it was a memorable way of reinforcing all the elements of the campaign,” explains De Graad.

It is well known that strong teams and recognition among peers are drivers of staff satisfaction. “You could include a team-building and awards element in your year-end function. Not only is it the perfect time to boost your people, the achievers in your team can be publicly recognised and celebrated,” she explains.

One of the challenges with year-end events is how to appeal to a diverse range of individuals. “You want everyone to feel appreciated but this is so subjective, so you need to find creative ways to achieve this. One event we did for a large corporate was to set up a festival complete with different entertainment areas and food stalls. This meant that a diverse group of various ages, backgrounds and interests were able to find something at the festival to enjoy and feel rewarded by.”

As the lines between work and life are so blurred, the design of your year-end function also sends a specific message to your staff’s partners. “The decision about whether to extend the year-end invitation to partners is an opportunity to recognise the sacrifices they make when we need to put in extra effort at work. Whatever you decide, consider how it comes across to your staff and how they may view your decision.”

De Graad shares a checklist for your year-end event but cautions that a well-considered event can only achieve company objectives if you work closely with your events company to consider the bigger picture and then design the details around those. She outlines six objectives for a successful year-end event:

  1. Create an opportunity for team members to bond in a social setting that forges better relationships in the office.
  2. Reinforce team objectives and recognise individuals for their contributions.
  3. Give team members a sense of being part of something bigger than themselves, driving employee engagement and wellness.
  4. Reward the team for work well done.
  5. Encourage team members to feel pride for their company (a key driver of employee retention).
  6. Give team members a restorative break from the hum-drum of the office and a boost to complete the last few weeks with vigour.

“So, if the question has arisen at your boardroom table and you are looking for a fun filled year end event that also makes business sense, talk to a marketing company that will find opportunities to deliver so that you get bang for your buck, not just beautiful event details – those should be a given,” she concludes.

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