6 things that can make your corporate annual day effective and different

Don’t bore your employees. 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. Don’t pander to a committee that doesn’t understand the importance of these two factors. Pander instead, to the employee that needs and craves the engagement.

In our last blog, we have seen how employees have developed distaste for routine and mundane activities. This clearly showed a drop in the turnout and also engagement. Several of my HR and Marketing friends asked me if there are any unique ideas. So here you go.

But let me bring back the two key points that you should know before planning your annual day

Firstly, an annual day celebration 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.


How to make your annual day more effective

Here’s a quick list of 6 things that you can start with to make your annual day effective and hopefully, different. I might not go in depth into each of the points, but we can surely discuss that offline. 🙂

# 1 Challenge your event agency to be creative

And pick from the list of radical ideas, not the tried and tested. While you’re doing this, do yourself a favor and forget the big stage set-up that makes everything uni-directional. Settle for experiential instead.

If you poll your employees about last year’s celebration, you will know that – Your stage is forgotten. The lights and the sound stacks go unnoticed. But throw in an interactive experience and you are building memories. Everyone remembers and cherishes them. Event agencies have a lot more ideas than what you give them credit for so start your brief by asking them to ideate out of the proverbial box and stage. Tell them you want something that’s not been seen in your circle before. An idea doesn’t cost you money. Evaluate the idea before you evaluate the cost.


# 2 Say no to routine themes

Dress ups and petty themes are great for your kid’s birthday party or for your unimaginative competitor. Even a casual search for annual day themes gives you a list of the top ten themes that have been ground out so many times that it doesn’t even register. By all means, have a theme. It helps to keep everything together. But please leave out the silly ones. Pirates and Bollywood are passé. They were out of fashion in the 90s. Wake up.

Yes, you’ll get a lot of photos but the only shares will be within the team. Aim for something that will go viral. For example, how about Times Square? It will be interactive. It can have the food stalls and the street hawkers. It can be an experience. There is no stage, but there is a square right in the middle of your set up.


# 3 Engage through experience not demonstration

True that a popular artiste will create the much needed hype and generate interest. But memories are created by experience. So spend your money on the experience not on the stage set up. No one can even remember what it was last year and most won’t remember the carnival stalls either. But they will remember group experiences if you invested in them. Have three days of experience at the office and a party on the final day. Attempt a world record. Or create the largest mural possible with all your employees.

In 2015, one of India’s largest tech companies created a 70 foot mural that engaged 2500 people. They didn’t just enjoy what they did, they have put it up as a proud testament. And the unexpected surprise? They won an award for the best corporate engagement activity in Asia – not just India.


# 4 Use the engagement opportunity to create a buzz

You want everyone to talk about it. So what can you do that will get everyone talking? Look at the latest trends. Create company wide music videos (check for copyright first). Or go with the Mannequin Challenge to showcase different teams. Human logos. As in the previous example, if you get different and do something note worthy you will be rewarded. Not necessarily an award, but if you generate pride of place, you’ve got your engagement part locked in. This should be your objective. Because, if you can create a buzz, then your employees are happy to have been a part of something so cool.


# 5 Get rid of committees

This one is tough, but get rid of the committee. Group decision making is an empowerment of compromises. The more people you have, the more commonplace your ideation will be. If you do want a committee, then set clear goals – The annual day cannot be anything like the last 5 years. Change the format. Change the engagement. And for God’s sake, get rid of the bags, backpacks, jackets or trolleys that you are dishing out. No one wants them anymore. They didn’t want them four years ago either.


# 6 Know where the ROI is – employee morale

Last but not least, don’t calculate based on overall figures but on a per person basis. That’s when you will truly be able to fix the right budget. And once you do that, calculate your ROI on the experiences, the memories and the buzz you will create through your event rather than the number of items on the menu. I’ve seen far too many companies who talk about what they spent the previous year and how they would be willing to spend 10% more this year. Guess what, the employee base grew by 25% in that one year. If you plan to have 3000 people at your event and your budget is only Rs. 50 Lakhs, you know you’re wasting time by paying 20% of that in a stupid backpack. It has your logo, but its relegated to a shelf with 10 other bags.

Your Return on Investment is not by knowing how many people turned up. Those are cheap Indian wedding statistics. Your ROI is based on the duration of the buzz. Are you still hearing about the amazing event during your next recruitment drive? Are your employees still talking about how much fun they had? Everyone likes to tell a story and everyone who likes to tell a story, wants to tell one that is better than the previous one. Its a contest. Have you given your employees the edge to tell their freinds that the company they belong to, has held the best ever annual day?


In a nutshell, you have two choices –  Form your committees, explore the core of mediocrity, spend on a large stage and fancy artistes, do what everyone is doing, go wear an eyepatch and scowl an Arrggghhhh when you see your event generate zero ROI.


Set your objectives, spend on the experience with the intention of being different and creating a buzz. Spread the word. Show pride. This should meet your primary objectives of employee engagement and internal communication and reinforce the belief that this is truly a cool place, and we are proud to be here.


As I said earlier, I would love talk in depth about unique ideas that can make your corporate get togethers and the annual days unique, memorable and different. Just drop me a note.