For those of you who are HR, Marketing, or Admin Managers, it’s that time of year again. Spring? Yes, but more precisely, it’s a time that management starts planning the company’s annual summer event. To really nail it, the logistics and timing are important – you’ll need to be cognizant of a number of items including employee vacations, where the party is going to be held, and the budget.
With your day-to-day job priorities taking up the majority of your time, you may find it tough to plan a successful party. Don’t worry – Wildman is here to make sure your event isn’t a flop.
You want your event to be a success because ultimately it’s a reflection of your work. But how do you measure a successful company event? Most would answer “that everything went off without a hitch” or “the boss seemed happy”. Those aren’t necessarily wrong, but another factor, and perhaps the most important, would be employee engagement.
Why engagement? Of course you want everyone to have a good time, but employee engagement is a factor with real implications on a company’s bottom line. Several studies have indicated that engaged employees are happier, more productive, and tend to stay longer.
Gallup, for example, conducted a very large study in 2012 in which they discovered that businesses with engaged workers were twice as likely to be successful financially, while those with the most engaged employees were four times as likely to achieve such success. The study further found that high workforce engagement resulted in greater attendance, fewer safety incidents, higher productivity and profitability, andlower turnover.
“Great!” you think, “How do I put together an event that people find engaging?” The honest answer is there’s too many variables involved to come up with some simple event checklist that will ensure success. However, there are several considerations around engagement that should be addressed up front to improve the odds of success.
Get Management Behind You: In your initial planning meeting, ask management what their goal is for the event. You’ll probably get a variety of typical answers like, for everyone to have a good time or for workers to know management cares. While these are great, this is where you suggest the overall goal should be high employee engagement for all the business reasons stated earlier. The idea is to get management behind you and help promote engagement as leaders across the organization.
Break the Mold: If your company’s summer picnic (or whatever annual event) is the same every year—the same place, same agenda, same food, even third Saturday in June, it’s time to change things up. If employees know what’s going to happen, then they’re less likely to be excited. Break the mold; get creative. Come up with a new theme, change the format or venue, etc. Sure, you might be limited to some degree, but ask yourself how you can make it different each time in order to keep people curious as to how you will top last year’s event.
Create an Experience First: There’s no doubt that planning and coordinating are critical for a successful event, but what’s even more important is to focus on what kind of experience you are creating for employees. If it’s just show up, eat some food, converse, and listen to the owners talk for a few minutes about the company, people may not leave as excited as you’d hoped. An easy way to create an experience that will encourage engagement is through games. Again, don’t go with old staples, like horseshoes and softball which can exclude people. Be creative. Have a Company Olympics with silly games that involve everyone. Draw up teams that mix people outside of departments and announce the rosters ahead of time. Being on competitive teams makes it hard for employees to hide and forces social interaction.
Reinforce the Memory: Assuming you have a well-executed event built around a positive experience, you want to reinforce the memory of that experience. A good way to do this is with memorabilia tied to the event. Team shirts and trophies are standard examples for team activities, but you want it to be a memory for everyone. If families are invited, have something planned for significant others and especially children to take home and savor the memory of a happy day together as a family. Also, make it something practical and durable that they can use on a regular basis as opposed to something cheap that will get tossed out a few months later.
Gather Feedback: Once the event is over, yes, you can sigh with relief but should not forget to gather feedback from the attendees. The simplest way to do this is through a (very) brief survey. Keep it to under 5 questions that requires minimal time and effort. The responses will be a big help in planning future events, and the number of responses you get back will also be another indicator of employee engagement at your company.
Pulling off a company event like an annual picnic or an Employee Appreciation Day is no easy feat, but if you focus your planning efforts around “return on engagement” then you’ll enjoy the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve helped make the company a positive and more successful organization.
Warsaw’s Wildman Business Group has experienced impressive growth. Here are five keys to that growth.
As a third-generation leader of the company his grandfather founded 65 years ago, Wildman Business Group CEO Josh Wildman knows something about growth. What started as a dry cleaning and laundry service has evolved into a diversified operation that now offers uniform and linen rental services, facility services, first aid and safety products, custom branded promotional products and apparel, and licensed sports specialty products.
In addition, Wildman Business Group recently celebrated the opening of a second location in Fort Wayne. This expansion allows the company to better serve customers and support its growing business. “We’re very excited about this new location,” says Wildman. “We’ve always been part of the greater Fort Wayne community, and now we are happy to call it our second home.”
That kind of growth doesn’t happen by accident. According to Wildman, the first step in achieving such impressive results is forming a plan. “We are blessed to have a CEO Emeritus who led us in developing the discipline and processes that helped us become who we are today,” says Wildman.
Having grown the company ten fold over the past 16 years, he shares the following principles to explain how Wildman Business Group continually achieves its goals.
A group from Wildman recently had the opportunity to visit a Destiny Rescue House, a house where they rescue young girls who are sold into sex trafficking… many before the age of 10. It was heartbreaking to hear the stories and to see the girls who knew nothing different before being rescued… and now have a true chance at having a real childhood. Pray for them and the efforts being done by Destiny Rescue.
We spent time at the 2nd Mile School that some children are fortunate enough to attend. What the kids wanted most wasn’t the gifts we brought, they wanted our love and our time. They wanted to play basketball and wanted piggy back rides until we could no longer stand. Their hearts could be felt by the smiles we received upon arriving. One thing that was challenging was that despite just how little they have, they all seemed so happy with nothing. They definitely taught us to be thankful for all we have.
Seeing how most of the families in the DR live was eye opening. From the moment our bus arrived, we felt the uneasiness of how dangerous this town could be if they felt threatened. They stood guard of their homes and watched us closely, while understanding that we were there to help. We were there to spend time with them and to pray over them. Their homes are very minimal. The roofs are made of tin and tarps that don’t provide much when it rains, there are no beds, no running water and no basic necessities to live. Most men who are fortunate enough to work bring home $9.00 a day.
Please continue to pray for those less fortunate than each of us this holiday season. Together we can all make a difference. Have a blessed Christmas!
Destined for a life of wakeboarding and skiing in Florida, the last thing Josh Wildman wanted to do was work at the family laundry business. Everything was all set—he had a scholarship and was moving to the sunshine state with his wife. Then the unthinkable happened; he severely broke his leg.
At the time, he was making deliveries for Wildman Business Group to make a little extra cash. One project led to another, and soon his day job turned into a career: CEO of Wildman. “God literally took my legs out from under me because His plan was not my plan…now working at Wildman is my calling, my ministry, and I am very passionate about the opportunity I have to influence the community,” Josh said.
In a world where publicly promoting Christianity is frowned upon, Wildman has decided to unashamedly let his faith set the standard for his company. Though Wildman is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes people of all faiths, Josh says, “We run our company through Biblical principles, and we are not ashamed of that. I truly believe the Bible is the best business book, and we will not compromise our faith. That being said, you can have a great career here regardless of what you believe.”
How has this unique philosophy been helping the 64-year-old business? The company with over 215 employees has grown from making $19 million to $41 million in the last three years alone. Last month they were listed number 2,985 on INC’s 2014 list of 5,000 fastest growing companies, with a 120 percent growth index over the last three years. So, what does Wildman do? While most people know Wildman for their laundry and uniform rental services, they do much more. They also create janitorial and first aid supplies, offer printing services, partner with Corporate Apparel, produce the YouTheFan sportulas, and recently added 3D stadium designs to their list of products, which are tastefully crafted art depictions of favorite NFL fields. For more, check outhttp://www.stadiumviewproducts.com/
“We are involved with some major brands and work with the NFL and Major League Baseball for the YouTheFan spatula brand, which is found in every major mall in the U.S. and has been very successful.”
In spite of such success, Wildman’s mission is focused outward rather than on profits. Their mission: Exercise the privileges of freedom and capitalism for good rather than greed. And their motto: Meet a need. Plant a seed. Starve our greed.
One way they do so is by financially supporting several ministries and taking employees on mission trips with 2nd Mile Missions or Humanity and Hope United Foundation. Whether employees go to Honduras, the Dominican Republic, or volunteer at local charities, serving has made a large impact on the company. “People come back more appreciative of the opportunities they have compared to the rest of the world. We live in the richest nation, at the richest time in history ever, while 95 percent of the world lives on a dollar a day. We as Americans don’t appreciate that,” Josh continued, “One of the things we do with these trips is ask, ‘regardless of what you believed before you came, what do you believe now? What do you really believe?’”
Serving also adds tangible value to the business through the nature of its unique team building. “Whenever you come together to do something that isn’t selfish, there is a camaraderie that is built—essentially two strands are stronger than one. You can’t build teamwork like that otherwise,” Josh added.
Josh’s wife Leslie and son Beaux serve on a mission trip to the Domincan Republic
Speaking of great teamwork, Josh said hiring the right team is crucial to success. His advice for business owners is: “Hire great people, especially if you are just starting out. It is going to be a lot harder than you think. Secondly, most new business owners miss the importance of cash flow…and it is going to cost a lot more than you think it is going to cost. That is what we have found as we diversified—it is a major investment. The idea is easy, but the execution is not, so plan ahead.”
And Wildman is doing just that. “We think we’ve got our biggest opportunities yet to come,” Josh said. “We have some neat other products that are going to be coming out over the next year and diversification for YouTheFan. Be watching our website for more!” So
So there you have it—the wildly successful Wildman business. “We have been really blessed as a company, I think it is because of our servant mindset…” I think so, too, Josh. I think so, too.