Five tips to Fire Up Your Next All Hands Meeting

Are you ready for your next company all hands meeting? Are you able to reach every one of your employees, no matter where they are? Will they even care about what you have to say? Do they feel involved? Are you fostering an environment of creativity and transparency? All hands meetings are important aspect of any organization’s success and it’s your chance to keep your employees engaged, informed and motivated by sharing your results and your vision.  

To help you make the most of your next all hands meetings, we’re sharing five great tips to help. 

1. Make sure EVERYONE in your organization has access

We’re not just talking about smaller, satellite offices but your remote employees too. Remote working is here to stay and is on the rise. According to research conducted by Global Workplace Analyticsregular work-at-homeamong the non-self-employed population, has grown by 159% since 2005, more than 11x faster than the rest of the workforce in the US alone. While the benefits of working remotely are well documented, one of the biggest challenges that remote workers face is a feeling of isolation. Happy, engaged employees tend to be more productive and stick around longer, so companies need to pay more attention to fostering connections and a sense of community with their remote team members. It’s for this reason that businesses should make it easy for everyone to access all hands meetings. With everyone able to participate, they’ll feel important and valued. 

As Joel Gascoigne, CEO of Buffer, a fully distributed team living and working in 15 countries around the world explains, “When you have everyone remote, it changes a lot of things. When you just have a few people remote, they can easily feel like second class citizens without full access to information.” 

2. Get Q&A questions in advance

It’s always good to end an all hands with a Q&A but no one wants to be put on the spot with a tricky question that’s hard to answer. By allowing employees to submit their questions ahead of time, with the option of anonymity, you can be prepared in advance with informed and thoughtful responses. An advance Q&A is a win-win; presenters get to identify high priority topics that require addressing and employees, who might otherwise have been unwilling to ask a potentially controversial question in front of a huge group of people, get to raise their questions without fear. 

At all hands meetings, their “Ask Me Anything” sessions with their CEO have become indispensable to their team. “By showing people that their concerns matter and that we’re willing to discuss them openly, Q&As have become one of the cornerstones of creating a culture of transparency.” 

An open dialog with your employees is really important, and the chance to get questions asked anonymously, as well as in a timely fashion, can go a long way towards reinforcing an open and transparent company culture.

3. Be as transparent as possible

Speaking of transparency, research has shown that a culture of transparency is the number one contributing factor to employee happiness. The same research also found that less than half of employees surveyed knew their organization’s vision, mission, and values. The good news is that it’s never too late to start, and all hands meetings offer the perfect opportunity for open and transparent communication with employees. One of the most practical ways to improve transparency is by sharing company data, whether it be employee satisfaction surveys, sales data, company financial data, or even improvement metrics. It’s important, however, to strike a balance – highlight key data, but at the risk or boring your employees, don’t go through it all during an all hands – you can always send it out in an email. The important thing is to keep employees informed. An informed employee is a happy one! 

4. Get all hands on deck for all hands meetings

While it’s important to have one person in charge whether it be a moderator or an MC, it doesn’t have to be your CEO every time. Shake things up a little, alternate who gets to run the show. Be sure to share the stage with others, both within the company and externally, by inviting guest speakers to share their expertise. The point here is, to make sure you get everyone involved and don’t be afraid to get creative! Employees at Buffer have a fun tradition while waiting for everyone to join their weekly all hands meeting, they let teammates serve as DJs using a collaborative Spotify playlist, and with plenty of musically minded colleagues, sometimes they’re treated to a live pre-event instrumental performance. However serious, or silly, encouraging participation is a great way to build team and company spirit and create relationships with fellow co-workers. 

5. Keep employees engaged for the entire meeting

Getting your employees to attend your all hands is one thing, keeping them focused and engaged throughout its entirety is quite another. It might be time to come up with some innovative and fun ways to keep your employees paying attention, that way you get across all the information you need to, while still finding a way to interact with employees and get them pumped for the next meeting. From polls, surveys and quizzes to celebrating customer wins or recognizing employee accomplishments, there are many ways to keep your employee’s attention and make your meeting more enjoyable.  
Online retailer, Zappos, is well known for its fun and unique company culture and regularly employs some very clever (and sometimes really weird) ways of keeping their employees engaged during all hands meetings. Interspersed between sales reports and news about management initiatives, you’ll find Fear Factor-esque contests for gift cards, like a leopard-print-clad employee putting her arm in a box of tarantulas, an announcement that all employees who wish could receive free DNA testing to get more detailed information about their ancestry, and a “Guess that Mating Call” contest, in which one employee guessed the zebra a lot faster than the MC thought possible. 

It’s all [hands] happening! (Zappos)

While we’re not suggesting these kinds of activities are suitable for all organizations, they do serve a very simple purpose: to keep employees engaged for the entirety of the all hands meeting. 

Ready to make the most of your next all hands meeting?

Find out how Haivision’s Media Platform can bring your meetings to life. Discover how you can organize, manage and share secure, high-quality live and on-demand video to every employee, on any screen – desktops, TVs and mobile devices – anywhere, by downloading our datasheet here.

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