Culture Matters: A Case for Internal Events

Kylee Lambert, Sr. Event Coordinator

Kylee Lambert, Sr. Event Coordinator

Pick up any management training manual and you'll find it. See any major company's success or failure and you'll see it. The term “corporate culture” is a buzzword currently dominating the marketplace as a foundation for entrepreneurial success, business sustainability and employee retention--not to mention consumers’ measuring stick for company “coolness” and corporate responsibility.

Once thought of in terms of strict dress codes or colleague performance rivalries, “corporate culture” has morphed into an essential element for building a brand, gaining consumer support and attracting new customers and employee talent.

So, how do you create and maintain the best culture for your market, employees and bottom line?

As event professionals, we say internal events (i.e., investing in your own by creating a meaningful and memorable event for your most important stakeholders—your team!).

After the recession hit in 2008, this type of investment was the bottom rung on budget ladders; but in the last few years as development and preservation of corporate culture has shown value, so too have internal events. We've helped our own clients create, transform and foster their corporate or organizational cultures through an array of events including company retreats, general meetings, recognition ceremonies and holiday parties.

Even though the market has improved since the crash in ’08, budgets are still strict and nonprofits, especially, are looking for ways to save a buck in annual expenses. So, we understand that hosting an event for your internal audience may not seem like the best return on investment. But we also know that internal events are not only essential to create and maintain a thriving corporate culture, but also a company’s success, donor growth and sustainability in the market. And here’s why:

Reason #1: Investing in a strategic experience for your employees increases engagement. 

I once heard a saying that sums this up perfectly: “Without retreats, meetings or recognizing those who do good work, you are like a football team that never huddles, never practices, never plans and does not hold training camps.” Internal events provide a platform for employees to connect with each other and with leadership, as well as understand their values as employees and how best to complete their work. Gathering together to talk about future goals, current problems and “out of the box” ideas is one of the best ways to propel your company forward.

Reason #2: Internal events increase business success. 

Those who invest internally in recognizing their employees and strengthening internal business relationships are proven to have a culture that is stronger and truer than those who don’t. A study conducted over the course of 11 years by the Harvard Business School proved that companies with the “right” corporate culture had 4.1 times higher revenues, stock prices 12.2 times higher and ROI 15 times of their counterparts.* From nearly 15 years in the event industry and more than 50 years of experience, we say that internal events are one of the best ways to create the “right” culture, and in turn grow your bottom line, because events influence behavior. People connect with people, not products or services, and when you create experiences for your employees to enjoy together, change, growth and understanding are much more likely to occur. Those that invest in internal events tend to have more employees who “feel the love,” who then in turn are more likely to inspire similar feelings among customers.

Reason #3: Internal events influence talent recruitment and retention. 

It’s not a stretch to suggest that when a company has the “right people on the bus,” it also has a greater chance of achieving success--and when employees feel bolstered and appreciated, they tend to invest quicker and work harder. That’s why internal events are becoming an important part of attracting and retaining talent within a company. Major players like IBM and Apple send new recruits to week-long leadership and training retreats and invest in employee well-being programs to foster their corporate culture and their own. As one of the most important factors for jobseekers when deciding where to work, corporate culture is huge, and nearly all of those listed in Glassdoor’s “Top 25 Companies for Culture and Values,” host some form of internal event for their employees.

We understand that not every organization or company has the means or capabilities to rent out a resort in Maui, hire a celebrity keynote speaker to motivate or host a lavish party for its entire office to boost morale, but there are creative ways to “rally the troops” with a bang for minimal bucks (just ask us). So, we invite you to reflect on your own corporate culture, internal communication and satisfaction within your workplace—you may realize that the next best place to invest is in yourself.

*John Kotter & James Heskett, Harvard Business School, “Corporate Culture and Performance;” Smartblog on leadership, Oct 2010, “Macy’s Lisa Glick on building strong employee engagement.”