Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How HR Planned an Employee Appreciation Party

"The Human Resources Department is the dumping ground for management projects," announces Betty to her husband over dinner.  "This afternoon the VP walked into our office and announced that we are going to have an employee appreciation party next month and wants all departments to interact. Then he tells me that I am in charge, and it is for the entire office. Plus, it needs to be fun and interactive. Then he told us he was late for a meeting and left.

He doesn’t release we have over 500 people and I need to find a location off-site, transportation, food, and entertainment…arrrg, I hate it when these people just drop their work on me and now it my responsibility!"erupts Betty.

The next day, Betty's first goal is to find a venue that can accommodate 500 people.  After spending the entire morning searching the internet, making phone calls, and asking friends on Facebook for ideas she nails it down three venues; the Science Museum, Shedd Acquire, and the Odyssey Cruise Chicago at Navy Pier.  These three venues have dates open, activities, meals, and are all-inclusive, making the planning easier for this last minute event.

With all the information gathered, Betty marches into the VP's office and presents her findings. The VP is a yachtsmen, and so he selected the Odyssey Cruise at Navy Pier. He then selected the one food option that Betty wisely presented to him.  She knew better not to give management a list of food options.

Make the decision process simple and quick. Betty learned this from working with other managers who "needed to survey" the employees taste buds and eventually fell on Betty to question, tally, and, after days and weeks of gathering information, do what they wanted.

Betty's next concern was trying to figure out how to get the various departments interacting at the event.  What can we get that would have people interacting and socializing?  Betty went back to the Internet googling for entertainers when she found an entertainer who used balloons as an icebreaker for hospitality entertainment. She had been looking at websites all day long and this one was the first site that spoke to her needs.

Betty stared at her monitor looking at colorful balloon art, when it popped into her head.  "Theme the decks!" The Odyssey has three different decks, and she could theme each deck with different music, different acts, and have entertainment that could be moved between decks seamlessly and interact with employees throughout the four hour cruise.

Betty now had a goal.  Each deck had a theme, and entertainment was selected based on that theme, and yes, the person that sparked her ideas was hired.

With minutes to spare the first chartered busload of employees were disembarking.  HR staff were putting the finishing touches on each theme deck, entertainers were positioned and waiting for employees to embark on their day of fun.

Betty was beside herself that she accomplished so much in so little time. Now it was time to sit back and wait for the boat to push off and set sail.

Take Away Points 

  • Define a list of priorities – what must be accomplished ASAP – Venue - Transportation
  • Find All Inclusive Venue – Food, drinks, rest rooms, and parking all in one location
  • Limit Options – when seeking approval and keep control over the project
  • Establish a Theme –  Themes are the glue that give purpose for all activities
  • Avoid repeating past mistakes, learn from each event planned
  • Hire professionals who have experience and can address your needs

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