Are you boring employees with mundane and unimaginative annual day approaches?

It’s time for the annual day celebrations at your office again. It’s been a year since the last one. Wow.

But hang on, where’s the enthusiasm? Where’s the fun? What’s that you’re hearing?

“Wait – didn’t we just do this exact same thing a couple of years ago? Or was that at my previous org?”

“Oh no, are we getting another bag?”

“Oh please, don’t tell me it’s the pirate or Bollywood theme again!!”

“It’s a waste of time. I doubt I will go this year, either.”

I’ve polled about 200 people in the last two months at 12 different organizations and these were the four most polite reactions.

The intention to have an annual day celebration is commendable. But as a leader, have you really listened to your employees? Have you not heard how the majority of them seem bored by the same ideas and the same rituals? Have you not noticed how many are “dropping off” each year and it just seems to be an annual day for new joinees and inductees rather than your entire office? Don’t you see how few families are turning up? Don’t you see the disengagement?

The benefits of a well-executed annual day are multi-fold. Higher morale, camaraderie, pride of place, sense of belonging, fun, a chance to mingle, party, make more friends. All of this contributes to higher engagement, better long term productivity and lower attrition. However, all this is applicable only if you do it right.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, annual day celebrations in Indian corporates have transitioned from the extremely predictable to the immensely mundane.

These run-of-the-mill corporate annual get-together approaches don’t cut it any more

A few posters. A few electronic mailers. A decorate your workplace initiative. Lots of balloons. A theme to the main celebration – usually varies between Bollywood, Pirates, Ethnic, a specific color and so on. Then you have a stage set up which is grand and huge. Theatre styled seating for everyone. A few stall games that go out of the theme’s framework – usually carnival games or mehndi and tattoo artists. Balloon art. A song and dance routine put together by an enthusiastic group within the company. And then a performing artiste. Lots of selfies. A picture booth or two. A dance floor. A loud DJ who plays the same music every year.

There you go. That’s the structure of 95% of annual day celebrations in corporate India.

Someone started this trend of making a corporate annual get together a large kiddies’ birthday party. Complete with dress up, and even the return gift (either a luggage item of sorts, mugs or power banks). Since then we’ve shied away from being different and instead settled to outdo the previous one by just having a variation – either in theme, color, artiste, venue or return gift. Where’s the creativity? How are you differentiating yourself? How do you wow the employee who moved from your closest competitor to join you? How do you show that you care enough to listen? How do you use this powerful tool as a business initiative with benefits rather than losses?

If you’re planning your next annual day or a corporate annual get together and really want to make an impact, check these 6 things that can make your annual day or a corporate annual get together effective and different.

But before you plan for your annual day, you have to understand two things.

Firstly, this is a part of your internal communication and therefore it’s marketing. It has a reason and it has a message. Or rather, it should

Secondly, it is employee engagement.

Don’t bore them. Engage them. Create an experience. Build it up. It’s just one of a very few employee engagement initiatives that you do in a year. Don’t waste the opportunity. Here you go on the 6 things.