When employees are well trained and engaged in an organization, productivity improves and stays high.  In fact, studies by Gallup have shown that highly engaged teams result in as much as 21% greater profitability by comparison to their peers.  But true engagement is not easily obtained, and for time-stretched HR departments, finding a way to reach that goal is often a function of hours in the day rather than desire.

One way to boost engagement is through employee training programs and events.  These events use fun, interactive and even gamified activities to train and engage employees and boost their confidence and skillsets.  They can even be used to foster culture initiatives and ingrain core company value propositions while building an engaged environment.  But whether they are scheduled for wellness, benefits, training or culture building, events can get out of hand if not organized.

Focus is Key

Organizing for a company event can be almost as critical as the event itself.  After all, if you can’t manage time in planning the event, how can you ever hope to keep the event on mission when it happens?

In addition to the budget, the reality is that most HR and training departments list conflicting priorities as one reason for lack of proper time management.  This is compounded by the fact that companies often have several software systems deployed to manage and track events and programs including attendance tracking, feedback, and performance. 

When planning events, most companies look to improve effectiveness, streamline and simplify processes and improve access to feedback.  So, what can companies do to ensure these goals are achieved?  The first thing is to focus on the process.  Many professionals get caught up in technology to the point that they rely on it exclusively.  Others run around with a thousand scraps of paper and manual lists trying to micromanage.  But focusing on timely activation of an event may mean using both new technology and old school techniques together.

This combination acknowledges the reality that in addition to the meta-process of managing the event, you still need boots on the ground as the event approaches and especially as it occurs.  Tools to help focus include:

Software and Electronic Aides – This can be an advanced task or project management software specially designed for events or, it can be as simple as Google Docs or Dropbox to keep important information centralized and accessible by the team for collaboration.  Having an overall tech-driven system for basic project management or punch lists will help everyone to see what has and has not been accomplished.

Binders – The ultimate in the old school for event management, binders can keep things on track when on-site, in meetings and especially when key staff are away from computers with little or no access to technology.  Anyone with limited Wi-Fi or a bad cell signal understands the importance of the binder.  These binders are also important repositories for packing lists, insurance certs, and other key pieces of information critical to the event that often needs to be produced in hard copy as the day unfolds.

White Boards/Hot boards – As the event nears and activity increases locally relative to the event venue, hot and whiteboards can keep staff informed and on task as the day unfolds.  Easily updated, it gives a centralized location for team members to return to understand what to do next.

Time Management Tips

Once the system of tools for keeping focused is developed, it is time to make sure and manage the time as well.  And regardless of the event subject, there are tried and true time management tips for managing events that can help.

1.     Set a Schedule – This may sound like a given, but workplaces are littered with badly planned events because those in charge didn’t sit down and make a simple schedule to ensure that everything was done.  Setting realistic but aggressive schedules can help motivate the event organizing team to stay on track.

2.     Use a Countdown – Rather than a clock counting backward, imagine the day in minutes rather than hours.  Hours burn away quickly, and team members may “round off” as the day advances.  Knowing how many minutes are available for a task and being able to move directly to the next task is critical.  It helps keep track of the “little things” that are often forgotten and may only take a couple of minutes to accomplish.

3.     Don’t Forget Your Day Job – While everyone wants the event to go well, acknowledging that team members have other daily tasks they must respond to will help keep them focused.  Set aside time for regular work to answer emails, return calls, make decisions and other important tasks.  This not only keeps you from pushing those tasks off to after hours or another day, it helps optimize the time available to complete tasks required for the event when that time rolls back around as well.

4.     Delegate – What good are whiteboards and hot boards and planning software if everyone isn’t involved?  This is not only an effective way of making sure the event tasks are completed, but it’s also a great way to improve leadership skills.  Having faith in the team can often build engagement just as much as the event itself. 

5.     Prepare for the Unknown – No matter how well an event is planned, there will always be unknown barriers that pop up.  In fact, nearly half of respondents in one study listed “last minute requests” as the biggest barrier to planning an event.  A good rule of thumb is to allow 20% of a day for unforeseen issues relating to the event.

Pulling off the perfect event can be stressful.  But it doesn’t have to be.  By staying focused and using a range of tools a leader can create a system and an atmosphere where the event can be managed from macro to micro stages without the stress.  And by focusing on time management steps to keep things optimized and moving along, the next event can be a huge success.

Five to Nine helps organizers save time in collaborating on managing events. Request a demo today.