Epoch Webinar: The Role of Virtual Team Building on Employee Engagement

Epoch Webinar: The Role of Virtual Team Building on Employee Engagement

We are back with our Experts on Employee Experience Webinar Series. It is a monthly webinar series where Jade Choy, Epoch’s CEO, has conversations with leaders and innovators in the Employee Experience and engagement space. Today’s topic is Flexible Workspaces & Employee Engagement. 

In case you missed it, here are some key learnings and takeaways from our webinar featuring Emily Sherburne, Corporate Events Program Manager at GoDaddy and Lee Rubin, Founder and CEO, at Confetti.

View the full recording here. Scroll on for notes!

Meet Emily and Lee 🎙️🌟

Emily has a passion for employee engagement, team building, and communications. 

Currently, she is the Corporate Events Program Manager at GoDaddy, and manages the Fun Fund, an employee engagement program that promotes employee connection and belonging across the company’s global employee base through virtual, hybrid, and in-person events. 

Lee is the Founder and CEO of Confetti, and an expert in employee culture and event planning, particularly virtual team building. Under her leadership, Confetti has served over 7,500+ customers, including leading companies like Google and Facebook, to enhance their company culture. 

Creating a sense of belonging 

Lee and Emily create a sense of belonging and engagement in their organizations through consistency. It’s not enough to have occasional events; regularity is key. They highlighted the importance of virtual experiences and activities, recommending monthly or quarterly events tailored to your culture and budget. For example, creating a gratitude channel on platforms like Slack can ensure employees feel recognized. Using lighthearted channels like “pets” or “memes” can boost morale and create a sense of community as well. 

Employee engagement and culture

Emily views employee engagement and culture as the same. They may have different names, but excluding one from the other is incomplete. She manages a Fun Fund program at GoDaddy for her employees all around the world.

The Fun Fund program allows her employees to meet virtually or in person, building rapport and camaraderie, which is foundational for employee engagement. When her teams have that rapport, they can be their authentic selves, creating a supportive environment where anything is possible. Bringing a sense of belonging to her peers at GoDaddy is incredibly rewarding for her. 

Lee thinks that corporate culture incorporates shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. She keeps track of how her employees engage, collaborate, and support each other, not only within their teams but also with customers and stakeholders. She emphasized the overall atmosphere of the workplace and how employees embody the organization’s mission, vision, and core values are crucial to employee engagement. Lee believes that core values are the DNA and soul of an organization, driving its culture even when people are not around others. 

Successful initiatives 

Emily highlighted several initiatives that have been successful in fostering connection and a sense of belonging at GoDaddy. It is important to meet people where they are and cater to their specific needs and desires. One initiative she’s found success in is using Slack for communication and engagement. She created a recognition channel to uplift her employees’ efforts throughout the year. Emily’s team loves crafting activities, such as terrarium making and candle making, which provide them with tangible, hands-on experiences that help them connect. Partnerships with vendors like Confetti offer a variety of options at accessible price points, ensuring that her team can find activities that suit their preferences and promote a sense of community.

Lee shares that keeping activities fun and fresh is a great way to foster connection and a sense of belonging at Confetti. She likes incorporating different themes for events. She believes it is important to have traditions, such as an ugly sweater party, and align events with company missions, such as celebrating National Pet Day for a pet industry company. Lee finds that classic events like virtual skate classes, coworker feuds, and unique tests on trivia, like “traitorous trivia”, where a team member secretly tries to sabotage the team’s answers are popular amongst her company. The overall goal for these events is to bring people together, create shared memories, and foster deeper connections in line with the DEI initiatives of her organization. 

Budget-friendly activities

Emily runs a PowerPoint party, where team members select a topic and have five minutes to present on it, allowing them to share their passions and interests with their peers. She also recommends classic games like Pictionary and Charades, which can be played for free over Zoom with minimal preparation. These activities not only keep the fun rolling but also promote team bonding and learning.

Lee likes to run the superlative game, where teams of five create humorous superlatives for each other, fostering creativity and connection. She also suggested two truths and a lie, sharing childhood pictures and stories, or finding the most random item on their desk or in the house. These activities provide entertainment for her teams and also help team members learn more about each other. 

How to get your employees engaged 

Emily thinks it is important to have a strong communication plan and an effective internal communication program already in place. She believes that you need to communicate in ways that resonate with your employees, such as through Slack, email, or short-form videos, which can be more engaging and easier to share than traditional emails. Emily often records short videos, to discuss upcoming events and to keep employees informed. These videos are informal and unedited, resembling a casual conversation rather than a highly produced video, making them more relatable and accessible to employees. 

Lee suggested a multifaceted approach to ensure employees are aware of and excited to participate in events. This approach includes utilizing various communication channels such as email, text, internal communications, and calendar invitations, along with timely follow-ups. Lee also emphasized the use of FOMO (fear of missing out) as a powerful tool, suggesting pre-event activities like "seven days of wine" with wine trivia and sharing favorite bottles to generate excitement. After events, Lee shares photos and feedback from participants to create a sense of inclusion and encourage future attendance. Lee stresses the importance of planning ahead, communicating effectively, and utilizing basic organizational tools to maximize event participation and engagement.

How to get leadership buy-in 

Emily uses data-driven approaches to address leadership buy-in. She pointed out the need for leaders to have access to data that demonstrates the impact of such programs on morale, especially during challenging times such as budget cuts. Emily surveys employees to gather feedback and statistics that support the need for these programs, which can be compelling data points for leadership. She also presents pre- and post-survey data to leaders, showcasing their popularity and impact to continue her events and programs. Emily's approach underscores the value of data and experimentation in garnering support for these programs and ultimately improving employee morale and teamwork.

Survey feedback and effective questions

Emily emphasizes honesty and open communication when communicating with employees. She uses anonymous feedback surveys to increase participation and sharing. Emily uses metrics such as net promoter scores, connection and belonging scores, and inclusivity measures as valuable data points to include in surveys. These metrics help quantify feelings and demonstrate the impact of engagement initiatives to leadership. 

KPIs and Metrics

Emily monitors participation, net promoter score, and inclusivity metrics for her "fun fund" program as well as testimonials from leaders who were initially skeptical but now see the benefits of the program she is running. She sets goals for participation based on previous data and stays flexible in employee engagement efforts, as what works now may not work in the future. Emily's approach uses both quantitative and qualitative data to measure the success of engagement programs.

Lee measures post-event satisfaction and asks participants if they would like to do more of the same type of events to gauge their success and interest in the program. She also recommended gamification in participation to increase engagement. Lee is adaptive with her strategies as new trends arise every day. Lee likes to tie attendance to donations, where the company donates a set amount for each attendee, motivating employees to participate while also contributing to a charitable cause.

Tips and Tricks 

Lee advises those building their company's culture or going through a transition phase to be flexible and meet people where they are, using surveys to understand their needs. She suggests starting with quarterly events tied to exciting themes to kick off the year and emphasizes the importance of getting leadership buy-in. Lee highlighted the power of top-down encouragement from leaders to attend events, even if they can't attend themselves. She also says that memorable experiences don't always require a large budget and can come from small, creative efforts that lead to joyful events. 

Emily emphasizes the importance of finding "super users," individuals who are equally passionate about building company culture and are willing to advocate for it. When these stakeholders, whether they are in leadership positions or peers, are vocal about the importance of company culture, it helps build momentum and excitement. Emily highlighted the power of collective voices working together to make company culture a common and eagerly anticipated aspect of the organization.

How Epoch can help

Use Epoch to plan your employee events and programs, then track analytics on how the events went! Epoch is an employee engagement platform used by people teams at Reddit, Asana, and more. Epoch supports any internal event that needs email, Slack announcements and reminders, calendaring, and reporting. On top of impactful engagement and feedback analytics, Epoch provides a simple way to communicate and promote events to your workforce, helping events reach employees where they prefer to receive messages.

Teams using Epoch have seen positive impacts in event engagement while reducing time spent managing and promoting events by over 70%. Udemy used Epoch to scale its inclusive culture, driving 89% participation, and Modus Create successfully scaled a global events program across 15 time zones.

Increase productivity and connection among employees through company culture with Epoch. Curious to learn more? Book a demo today!

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