FAQs – Employee Voluntary Attendance at Company Events

Many human resource professionals will tell you that they were disappointed with employee attendance at or employee response to, company communication events.

In what follows, we will be discussing events that are voluntary rather than those where attendance is compulsory. We’ll be examining just why some of these things can go so badly wrong and yield disappointment for the sponsoring organization.

Why is employee take up so poor in terms of available places?

It is impossible to say for sure and further analysis would be required.

Typically though, poor employee attendance at company sponsored events can usually be attributable to one of two generic things:

  • morale in your organisation is low and/or;
  • there is something fundamentally wrong with the logistics of the session, meaning that it is either not of interest to the majority of employees or it is simply too difficult for them to be there.

Our post-event event feedback analysis showed that most employees didn’t find the session to be useful. Why is that?

Once again, there would need to be some detailed questionnaires completed in order to get to the bottom of that. However, an extremely common factor in such negative responses is often the fact that employees’ perceived the material to be simply not relevant to them in their daily jobs.

For example, some corporate events unfortunately entail senior managers essentially “brain dumping” on employees.

It is highly desirable for employees to be engaged, in advance, in helping to define the objectives, structure and agenda of the session, rather than simply have what management think they need to know inflicted upon them.

Why did some refuse to attend because of its effect on their personal lives?

The old models of company first, second and last, have long since disappeared in the minds of many employees.

If you schedule sessions to be held at a date and time that is convenient for the organisation and which minimize work disruption, yet at the same time negatively impact the family lives of your employees, you can expect resentment.

How can we ensure a greater employee take-up of available places next time?

Numerous studies have shown that the following are effective:

  • provide transport for employees. Even limo hire can be extremely cost-effective. If the numbers are higher, use a luxury coach instead;
  • consult employees in advance and make sure that there are going to be items covered that are of direct daily relevance to them and their jobs;
  • structure your session so that there is more interaction rather than a string of presentations;don’t hold them at locations or times that are going to cause serious disruption to the personal lives of the employees concerned;
  • plan the work impact of the session. Employees are unlikely to attend enthusiastically if they know that they will have a double the workload backlog on their desk the next day when they get back!

Why are some sessions at these events unpopular?

This has already been covered in many of the above answers but a key point is about interest levels.

One recent presentation at a major employee communication session was on the “mechanics of the accounting balance sheet”. By definition, and with all due respect to accountants, this sort of session is extremely unlikely to be of interest to the vast majority of employees.

Another key point here is that some organisations insist on putting people up in front of an audience who have had little or no training in public speaking. While some people may be naturally gifted in this area, many are not.

The end result of someone who is lacking both the innate abilities and any form of developmental training can be extremely painful and embarrassing.

How can we turn our corporate communication events around?

If you are really struggling to get people to attend and show that they have enjoyed the session when they do, minor cosmetic changes are extremely unlikely to deal with the problem.

Failure feeds failure and once your corporate events have obtained a poor reputation with employees, it is extremely unlikely to change unless radical action is taken.

It may be necessary to terminate them for the time being, while you call in specialists who can assist you to reconstruct and relaunch them in terms of employee perceptions.