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Is Your Company’s Annual Retreat A Hit Or A Miss?

Companies that consistently produce results know the secret lies in good employee management. Employees work best when they are engaged and feel connected to the management. Organizations stand to gain when this connection is strong because it creates deeper alignment among employees and between employees and the management.

However, many companies fail to capitalize on opportunities that create such connection and alignment. In their drive to focus on the bottom line, many companies forget the importance of employee engagement and how they can use existing events or structures to give it a boost.

A Misunderstood, But Powerful Tool

One key example is the annual social event a company organizes, usually in the form of a Christmas party or an annual, all-hands meeting. Usually organized by HR department, with little input from anyone but a few top executives, these events are often dreaded, yawn affairs.

However, such events can have a greater impact on employees than most other engagement tools. When harnessed well, they can transform into a powerful tool that hikes an employee’s sense of belonging and workplace happiness.

For, unlike other engagement mechanisms, company events have the capacity to bring together the whole company and provide the perfect environment to bridge power distances. Instead of viewing it as a forced social interaction, companies can foster actual kinship, and strengthen relationships between management and employees. 

The Semco Style Annual Party

Semco’s annual gatherings were focussed on celebrating results and strengthening workplace bonds. But, more importantly, they strived to get people to look at each other as not just colleagues in a business environment, but as belonging to an extended family.

Semco employees were treated like real family members in these retreats. In the beginning, they used to organize it for all employees together, but as the company grew to a strength of 4000-5000 employees, different parties were organized in different locations, depending upon the business unit.

Often, the gifts for the kids, families or the end-of-the year souvenirs were created by the factory employees themselves, using recycled materials. One particular year, the souvenir was a very creatively produced wine bottle holder that was fashioned out of recycled wood.

At Semco’s annual parties, a lot of emphasis is laid on creativity when coming up with the format for the event and the souvenirs. There is a great sense of participation and openness, not only in designing the format of these retreats, but also in the little details of the party itself.

Unleash The Power Of A Great Party

It’s no secret that employees work best when they are engaged and feel connected to each other and the management. When companies view such parties as a chore or as a means to tick off a box in compliance, the unenthusiasm is passed on to employees and makes it unbearable for everyone. However, companies don’t have the luxury of writing off such events, either, for various reasons related to shareholder and employee expectations.

But, these events have great power, when done correctly, to bridge power distances and promote better understanding among peers. Although not a stand alone solution, company events, when complemented with other engagement techniques, have the potential to add tremendous value to employee morale and engagement at a proportionately lower cost.

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