Over the years I have seen corporate events go from elaborate affairs with giant budgets to a huge taboo that may land a company in the media with the “perception” of being wasteful of resources and back again, plus lots of in-between. In a bad economy events will be the first thing chopped from the budget. CFOs will ask for the ROI to be computed for the event as if the event is a new product acquisition. This all puts the life of the corporate event planner in flux and often in peril. There are some concrete “returns” created by having events that bring your team together that are proven with neuroscience. So, next time there is a meeting where the topic of cutting events from the budget is on the agenda, below are some of those intangible “returns” that will show up on the “bottom line” and may be forgotten in the typical ROI calculation.
- Creating Community & Connection – THE FP favorite goal!! Our brains are designed to be social and the need for human contact is greater than the need for safety. When you create a work place where getting together in community is part of your culture, you create a place where people feel like they are a part of something and this satisfies the need for inclusion, collaboration, appreciation & connection. The book by Social by Matthew Lieberman describes the need for connection as being as fundamental as food & water. There are studies showing that healthy social connections reduce the negative effects of stress on our brains and bodies as well as actually reducing the effects of unhealthy habits like poor eating and smoking. WHAT?? The very best corporate wellness program may just be having opportunities for people to connect socially at their workplace. Then there is that whole people don’t leave jobs where they like and feel connected to the people they work with thing. Call me crazy but preventing turnover may be some pretty giant ROI.
- Celebrating & Appreciating – Celebrating achievements, hard work, commitment, successes or milestones is a GREAT reason to party! In the corporate environment we tend to focus so hard on goals and checking off the accomplishment that we often move on to the next goal before celebrating where how far we have come. There is a lot of proven brain science showing how much “return” there is in workplaces (and humans for that matter) that take time to celebrate. Celebrating our wins – even small wins creates healthy changes in your team. Celebrating raises your levels of oxytocin, endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. This little cocktail of “feel-good” natural chemicals gives a sense of being well and safety so people are more able to experiment, take risks and handle challenges after celebrating. Serotonin gives us focus, motivation & drive while decreasing stress, we end up with go-getters who are less stressed after celebrations. Then my favorite wonder neurotransmitter; dopamine allows people to pay attention to the most important tasks and ignore distractions plus allows for more problem solving skills. So the bottom line here folks is having celebrations creates a team of more focused & driven individuals ready to problem solve, tackle challenges and they feel good, if that isn’t a return I don’t know what is!
- PR/Sales – Whether an event is internal or includes customers, media, the public, etc. bringing people together creates a buzz. This buzz can be extremely intentional, like introducing a new product or service to the internal team, the community or the world. We all know that when a buzz is created about something the company does or sells revenue is created. There is no denying more customers, more money concept but it is increasingly more difficult to create a buzz in our world of social media, traditional media and ads popping up every single place you are. The rule of 7 used to apply; that rule says a customer will need 7 positive touches to have an impact on their decision to buy. With social media that has jumped to 10-100 times that number since we can be processing 100+ ads per day rather than a few with old school media. Impressions/touches are a totally different animal in the live event space. When you give someone an experience and they are laughing and connecting (feeling safe), it opens up the same place in the brain that learning & memorization occurs, it creates a sense of wonder. An event experience will create a “sense of wonder” about your company, product, or services. This experience is NOT forgotten like seeing an ad is in 2 seconds, the experience they had lasts for days, weeks, months, even years especially when they go home with that great picture of them & their friends having a blast at your event and it has a well-placed logo and event branding.
- Innovation – Bring people together and thought leadership happens, period! Collaboration & Innovation are not mutually exclusive they feed on each other and are required for companies that want to be a step ahead in our world of rapid change. When people are given intentional opportunities to brainstorm in a social environment the big ideas are sparked. When you are able to bring people together you have the ability to educate, inspire & empower an entire organization with powerful thought leaders as speakers or through shared experiences that you would never be able to achieve trying to reach one individual or one department at a time.