According to research conducted by Gallup, a global analytics and business consulting firm, “Organizations and teams with higher employee engagement and lower active disengagement perform at higher levels. For example, organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve four times earnings-per-share growth than that of their competitors. Compared with business units in the bottom quartile, those in the top quartile of engagement realize substantially better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.” It’s for all these reasons many companies, including ours, place a great deal of importance on live and in-person employee engagement events.
Organizations such as Meeting Expectations must find ways to set themselves apart. Studies tell us that training and education is critical for retention in the workplace. The Association for Talent Development discovered that 40% of employees who don’t receive the necessary job training leave their positions within the first year. With this knowledge in mind, and knowing we invest in the power of personal and emotional work connections, we held our own summer education series. Most of our employees from around the country came together for three dedicated days of professional development, education and team building activities. All of which were designed to support the theme “Innovate. Elevate. Evolve.”– three inspiring words that encapsulate our company’s corporate focus this year.
With our understanding of the strategic importance of peer-to-peer interaction in our clients’ meetings, events and association communities , the three days we spent in our summer education series reinforced the importance of team interaction and collaboration first-hand – it’s the driving force behind what ME values. Why is this important? According to a Meetings Mean Business Survey, nearly 99% of those who have participated in a face-to-face meeting believe that in-person meetings have helped them succeed in their career.
We kicked things off with an inspiring motivational speaker, Dan Thurmon, whose message “Stretch into Uncertainty and Uncertainty Stretches You” is demonstrated with juggling, acrobatics and riding a unicycle to support his message that, life is never in perfect balance and that you need to constantly adjust to new and changing circumstances to advance. Everyone in our company received Mr. Thurmon’s book Off Balance On Purpose, which encourages readers to embrace venturing outside their comfort zones as it builds skills, confidence and professional growth. Check out Dan Thurmon’s messages on YouTube.
Later, to illustrate the importance of “agile thinking”, my colleagues and I broke off into small groups learning the communications techniques improv actors use. This mix of employees from all business and operational units spurred diverse interactions beyond what our typical work day entails. Plus, the improv challenges taught us to actively listen to each other without interruptions or the predisposition of how the conversation should go. This experience will no doubt help us all interact in more agile and meaningful ways with clients and teammates.
Two breakout sessions followed – one for each of our two main lines of business. In the association management session, employees were trained to communicate in a PechaKucha style – an innovative presentation format in which slides are shown and the presentation is complete in a 20×20 format. Pecha Kucha was created in 2003 in Tokyo for young designers to “talk less, show more”. In a world where the human attention span has decreased to a mere 8 seconds, this style of presenting keeps audiences engaged and interested in the subject matter. For clients, we create and curate educational content designed to move entire industries forward, so it’s essential we stay current on learning styles and presentation formats.
In the meetings and events breakout session, meeting planners gathered with hotel services experts to brainstorm ways in which planners and hotel event managers can further collaborate in order to set each other up for success, ultimately benefitting our clients.
Our social committee planned “a day of positive impact” to help those less fortunate in our community and in the words of one of our client’s tag lines: “elevate the human spirit” and give back to our city.
In the morning, ME team members met at local charities across Atlanta to lend a helping hand. At Books for Africa, our team sorted through thousands of books and prepared them to be sent to students young and old in Africa. At Concrete Jungle, we mulched, weeded and harvested vegetables to provide Atlanta’s poor and homeless with fresh produce. Finally, at the Pajama Program, we read stories to young children to provide the comfort that storytime brings to those who may not have this type of interaction in their daily lives.
According to Fortune Magazine, “companies that engage in workplace volunteering help lead to higher levels of commitment and pride among their team and team members.” I certainly find that true, and I’m proud of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects we create for our clients with their CSR initiatives at events.
As the meeting planning industry continues to evolve, so does Meeting Expectations. This year’s educational meeting served as a great launching pad into ME’s brand evolution. The new brand brings a new perspective along with a new identity, a new positioning in the marketplace and a new tagline “Advancing Your Story.” We also learned how the company is evolving and expanding its services including the development of our proprietary InVEST Framework™.
Through the Summer Education series, ME reinforced the importance our company puts on staying curious, listening for opportunities to achieve client’s objectives, continued learning for the personal and professional growth to their employees – a true testament to how ME supports our careers.
The theme of “Innovate. Elevate. Evolve.” will continue to be the guiding principles in the work we all do here at ME to help our clients advance their stories.