The Secret To Delivering Engaging Online Events To Time-Strapped Employees
With everyone working from home during the various regimes of lockdown and circuit breaker measures, the volume of conference calls, video calls, and live webinars we are expected to participate in is going through the roof. But how does this feel to your employees? For me, there are two ways of looking at this. One – It’s great that technology provides us with the ability to connect and communicate despite being physically dispersed. I can still move projects along, get people’s input, and deliver what is needed. Two – I spend so much time in front of a screen and having calls that I can’t actually get my work done; what used to be a quick chat in the kitchen while grabbing the morning coffee has become a diarised conference call, and as a result my working hours are longer while my actual output remains consistent. Everything just takes so long, and it’s exhausting.
Regardless of your opinion on this new normal, it’s fair to say that remote working brings with it a set of challenges that may be new to a lot of business leaders, particularly when it comes to disseminating information to employees when you can’t physically get them all in the same place.
For some organisations this challenge isn’t new as they have a longer more well established pattern of remote working. For them online briefings, and live digital events and conferences are a standard component of their internal communications tool kit. However, many employees are struggling to juggle a heavier workload and increased screen time while also trying to homeschool, run a household, adapting to living in relative isolation, or maybe they just feel like they need to be constant ‘on’ with regards to work. Right now, the physical, emotional, and mental bandwidth for employees to join live online events and for the messages to really sink in is somewhat diminished. So, what can organisations do about it?
It’s important to remember that employees working remotely need more than ever to feel connected to remain engaged. Whereas at the same time organisations need to communicate to their people to ensure they’re kept informed of the latest strategy, initiatives, and plans, indeed now more so than ever. Holding a virtual event is an ideal way of getting everyone together in the same virtual space, but we’ve already mentioned that employees are struggling for both time and bandwidth so even if they do turn up will they really absorb and act on what you have to tell them? The secret is to hold an online conference that employees can engage with when and how they want, rather than holding live events that people must attend at that particular date and time. At the same time, it’s important to make the experience fun and compelling enough so they not only willingly participate but absorb and remember the content and messages being delivered.
For the last four years we’ve been working with DBS Bank here in Singapore to run its annual virtual event for its middle managers, and over that time we’ve learnt the secret to making such online events successful. For DBS, the issue was less about getting everyone together physically and more about the business impact of taking several thousand Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents out of the office at the same time. They came to 3radical to help them take was was historically a face-to-face conference, take it online and add elements of gamification that would appeal to the target employees and get them to engage.
We found that the key to delivering success when taking what is a traditional conference or event online is to run it over a period of time rather than making it a one-off live occurrence on a specific day at a specific time. The second is to deliver it in a way that is device agnostic and to make the experience available 24/7 throughout the event period. By delivering on these two basic principles your employees can login as and when they want, and where they want, to consume the content being delivered, which in turn helps increase employee participation and engagement as they are engaging on their terms and fitting it into their day when it works for them.
Another important factor for these time-strapped employees is to make sure the content is bite-sized. With DBS, different content was released every day throughout the week-long event and each day it would take individuals around 15-20 minutes to consume the content and complete the relevant challenges and activities. This length of time makes it easier for people to fit the event into their day, rather than holding a live online event that takes up several hours of their day and that isn’t so easy to schedule in. For the Bank, employees were unable to skip ahead to the next day’s content before it had been released and so were taken through the messaging and information in an ordered and structured way.
With virtual events, while different content vehicles can be used to provide the information, including videos and written content, it’s important to check peoples comprehension and measure the impact of the event. This is largely achieved by our clients through the use of quizzes and polls, the data from which then provide actionable insights for the business leaders. Question and answer forums also allow the leadership team to get deeper insights into the levels of understanding and to get to the heart of what employees need and want.
The final element, and the reason DBS chose to partner with 3radical, is to make it fun. By incorporating gamification into the experience you can begin to uncover what motivates your employees to participate. Adding different reward types that appeal to different kinds of individuals will ensure your event is a fun and rewarding experience for your employees, and it will provide you with the insights needed to understand what really matters to them and what motivates them.
While both employees and businesses are facing unprecedented challenges right now, one constant remains. Ensuring your employees are informed and engaged will keep them happy and motivated. However, how you achieve that in today’s climate brings with it a set of unique challenges. Virtual events can be a really successful way of connecting and communicating with your employees while allowing them to stay in control of their own time. But it only works if you do it in a way that provides them with a fun and enjoyable experience, rather than adding to pressure and workload. Get the balance right and not only will your employees benefit, your business will too.
Hear Wenxian Yeo, former COO for DBS Bank Singapore, talk about how the Bank has successfully engaged their team in its digital transformation journey with its annual Virtual Conference here.
Register now for our latest webinar: Moving Events and Conferences Online? How Gamification Maximises Engagement.
To learn more about how we can help you build successful online events for your employees, request a demo today! We’d love to share more of our insights and experience with you.