All Hands meetings and company Town Halls are great opportunities to get everyone together to discuss what’s important in the business. In an era of increasing employee dissatisfaction and turnover though, organizations need to do more than just inform employees. We explore how to use All Hands meetings to successfully engage your workforce.
With the end of the year closing in and the start of the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time to host an All Hands meeting. Whether you’re marking the end of the year or using an organization-wide event to kick off Q1 2022, it’s worth considering some fun All Hands meeting activities that’ll make your gathering interactive and engaging.
It’s especially worthwhile to experiment with new ideas in the current climate. Many organizations are still adjusting to hybrid working and it’s now almost inevitable that your All Hands meetings may feature online elements. Incorporating online activities will mean anyone working remotely can still take part and feel included in the company’s cultural and business life.
What is an All Hands meeting?
An All Hands meeting is a company-wide event where all employees and stakeholders are invited to hear updates on important matters such as sales results, company goals, product roadmaps.
‘Town Hall’ is another common name for this type of event. This is because a good All Hands or company Town Hall should be an open forum where everybody is invited to ask the leadership questions and have their queries answered.
An All Hands meeting agenda will typically cover these elements:
- General business updates
- Specific project updates
- Milestones, achievements, and awards
- Goals and priorities
- Q&A with the leadership team
To keep everyone engaged but still cover the wide range of material, these meetings are usually no longer than around 90 minutes when conducted in-person. For a virtual meeting, best practice recommends keeping them within 60 minutes as it’s more difficult for people to focus for long periods when their eyes are glued to a monitor.
The problem is that this may not provide enough time to cover everything and can make it challenging to also encourage a social, collaborative atmosphere. The larger the organization, the more pronounced this challenge becomes. As the digital workplace has accelerated though, business tools have emerged which help organizers to create fun All Hands meetings that still meet strategic comms needs.
Tips for making virtual All Hands meetings engaging
1. Celebrate your heroes
Travis Lindemoen, Managing Director of Nexus IT Group says:
All Hands meetings are the best time to recognize your employees’ hard work and effort. I use these meetings to honor our corporate heroes and heroines with public recognition.
In our company, we leverage a word cloud poll to invite employees to nominate a colleague who they believe went the extra mile or did an extraordinary job. After people have given their votes, the word cloud is shown on the screen. The more votes a person receives, the larger their name becomes.
I would also suggest combining a word cloud with an open text poll so that individuals can also leave a kind comment for other employees. Afterward, you can distribute the positive words to the individuals who need them most!
2. Pair up in break-out rooms
Girish Redekar, Co-Founder at Sprinto says:
We give our employees the opportunity to actively participate in a discussion during an All Hands meeting to make the meeting more engaging for them.
Your team’s All Hands gathering can benefit greatly from a pair-share activity. A thought-provoking topic can be given to your staff and then you can ask them to brainstorm in pairs or small groups. If you’re holding an All Hands meeting in a conference room, you may just turn to the person next to you and start chatting. Breakout rooms in your video conferencing platform can be used for remote or hybrid All Hands meetings where numerous persons are present.
3. Use multiple channels to reinforce the message
Maryna Zavyiboroda, Internal Communications Manager at HRForecast reveals how a remote-first company tackles its All Hands meeting activities.
We organize All Hands meetings monthly to make company-wide announcements, share achievements, report results, and discuss other important things. Before All Hands meetings, our HR manager mails out the agenda and key highlights that’ll be addressed.
It’s hard to engage everyone at All Hands meetings, so to keep people involved, we add interactive elements. For example, every department prepares a presentation, and a few people, including the head of a department, present their team’s key achievements, plans, and other things on the agenda.
Those who can’t join receive a link to a meeting recording and a presentation to study them later.
4. Gather Q&A questions
David Bitton, Co-Founder and CMO of DoorLoop adds:
In all of our All Hands meetings, we prioritize Q&A sessions. We’ve added some structure to it to make it easier to handle. We establish a pre-meeting survey so employees can ask questions before the meeting. This encourages employees to communicate their opinions, thoughts, and ideas so we can properly address them and openly discuss potential solutions and future steps. We can also determine the issues, ideas, or concerns that employees are most interested in discussing, increasing engagement.
Important All Hands meeting survey questions to ask employees
- How can we make our work environment more inclusive?
- How transparent do you believe the management team is?
- Have we provided enough support during the hybrid working transition?
- What do you think could have been improved in the last quarter?
- What do think could be improved in the next quarter?
- How valued do you feel for your contributions?
- How connected to do you feel to your co-workers?
- Do you enjoy the company culture?
- Is there anything you think we could do differently?
If your intranet software has built-in survey capabilities, this is a great way to collect your employees’ thoughts, ideas, and questions. These insights can help to inform the agenda for a meeting. It’s also a great way to collect feedback after the meeting has taken place.
Using technology to support successful All Hands meeting activities
Creating All Hands meeting activities capable of engaging an entire organization may involve a significant amount of work. To support the event itself, workplace technologies can help you create a dedicated content area where additional documentation and links to content discussed within meetings are provided. With the use of social intranet features such as @mentioning and comments, these online community areas can also engender further debate and discussion. These tools can be key to creating buzz around your events so that they can be visited and revisited by all employees.
With a dedicated area for All Hands meeting content that supports video, you can upload the recording of your meeting for those who may have missed it or simply need a recap. With comments enabled on the video, colleagues watching for the first time and those who didn’t pose a question during the meeting itself can ask and have their questions answered in an open forum.
Whether you’re gearing up for your organization’s first All Hands meeting or Town Hall, or you’re looking for inspiration to help make these events more engaging in the hybrid working environment, we hope these pointers help you and your people get the most possible value from the experience.