Team Building and Incentive Programs

One of the common questions by organizers of incentive programs is whether or not to incorporate any “business” activity during the course of a pure incentive program.  Team building is often the “business” activity that comes to mind.  While there are no right or wrong answers to this question, fun team-building activities can in fact enhance the value of an incentive program—to both the participant as well as the company.  The most successful, memorable team-building events need not feel like a day at the office.  On the contrary: They should blend with and augment the value of the incentive trip.    

Team building and incentive programs have one thing in common: They are both the most important investments a company can make.  They are both intended to build trust among employees, mitigate conflict, encourage communication, and increase collaboration. Effective team building as part of an incentive program mean more engaged employees, which is not only good for company culture but also to improve profitability. 

To get the most value from incorporating team-building activities in an incentive program, there are a few ground rules that should be kept in mind: 

1.     Don’t force the corporate stuff

Team-building activities during the course of an incentive program should least resemble the corporate stuff.  No overt reference to company goals or lessons in leadership.  Don’t lose the sight of the fact that the participants have already paid their dues by working hard to meet specific goals and are now being rewarded with the incentive trip.  Team-building activities should primarily encourage spending time together, sharing an experience or working towards a common goal to allow bonding to happen more organically.  One idea is for participants to share their life/personal goals with each other. It’s a powerful way to learn about people and their dreams, as well as to generate ideas for future team-building activities.

2.     Don’t forget the partners

If the incentive program includes partners, make sure any team-building activity you plan for involves partners too.  It turns out that happiness and performance are closely tied together. The objective is twofold:  To improve employee happiness as a result of an incentive trip and also foster bonding among employees.  Partners play a pivotal role in boosting those two goals if they are included in all activities.  To make it purposeful, choose something unique and slightly outside of people’s comfort zones to encourage all participants to come together in new ways.

3.     Take the positive energy back to the office   

Trying new concepts with your staff as part of an incentive program can generate good vibes among employees—both those who got to go to the incentive trip and those who didn’t.  Any team-building activity planned as part of an incentive program should have somewhat of a lasting effect.  The ultimate goal is to take that positive energy back to the office.  Most team-building exercises falls flat because they are often a one-time activity—done and then forgotten. Incorporating team building in your incentive programs is a way to keep the excitement going long after participants return from the trip. The challenge is creating opportunities for the returning participants to spread the positive energy among all employees by connecting and interacting with one another in more meaningful ways, outside of regular meetings or corporate interactions.

How do you know you’ve got team building correctly blended into your incentive program? If there was laughter, a sense of excitement, accomplishment and togetherness, and maybe a few Instagram moments, you’re definitely on the right track!

The Maxxus Group is a leading international event planning company with unique set of expertise in planning incentive programs or state-of-the-art team-building activities or both.

How to Hire the Best Event Planning Companies

There is no unanimity about whether or not to hire an event planner for your company’s important upcoming event.  Some corporations work with an event planning company for all their events while others hire an event planner on an ad hoc basis.  Some even try to do it on their own.  If you choose to work with an event planner, selecting one need not be a daunting task.  Follow these important steps to secure the services of a competent event planner—and to ensure the success of your event(s).   

Event Objectives

One cannot help but think of the famous expression from Alice in Wonderland, “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you.”  Without clearly-enunciated objectives for your event, any event planner should do.  Event objectives are not just intended to keep the event planner on track, they are the roadmap for your entire corporate team to stay focused.  Many corporations often fall in the trap of thinking that hiring an event planner starts with a budget.  A good event planner will quickly remind you that unless you go through the discipline of formulating specific objectives for your event, it is unlikely that you will end up with a satisfactory result.  In this important phase, a good event planner will guide you to answer relevant questions about who, what, where, when, why and how.      

Once the thread of a common objective for the event appears, it’s time to zero in on an umbrella theme for the event.  Here, your event planner can help you with your messaging strategy and activities that can be tied together with that common thread and determine the internal and external resources needed to accomplish the identified goals.  It is only then that your event planner can come up with a realistic budget for your event—from lodging, to venue rental, catering, speakers and entertainment, décor and transportation, etc. 

Reputation & Experience  

Unfortunately, the barriers to entry in the event planning profession are non-existent or minor.  Consequently, there appears to be a proliferation of many with little or no experience calling themselves event planners, making the job of selecting a reputable one very difficult.  Good event planners will have a roster of clients and milestone events they have put together.  Ask for references and check out the candidates’ previous work.  In particular, pay attention to the planner’s creativity in his/her other work.    

Proposal

Once you have narrowed your list to just a few event planning companies, ask for a proposal containing all the elements that you require for your event.  This is an opportunity for the event planner to shine and to demonstrate their ability to embrace your event objective(s) and put forward not only creative solutions but also realistic ones bearing in mind your budget. 

Interviews

As a final step in selecting your event planner, schedule an interview (face to face or remotely) to have a better “feel” for your possible candidates.  Ultimately, there has to be a chemistry between you—and your corporation—and the event planner.  Consider the fact that for the duration of planning and rolling out the event you and the planner will be working closely and for extended hours.  It is important that you can establish a mutually-enjoyable working relationship with your chosen planner.

These are only a few of the criteria that can help you determine whether or not you need an event planner for your next company event, and if you do, how to select the best candidate for the job. 

As an event planning company, GMS has been in business for over 20 years.  We welcome the opportunity to share the wisdom we have gathered over the years with our existing and prospective clients.

The Cure for Employee Burnout? Incentive Travel

Have you ever wished you had more vacation days? Most of us probably have, which is why it’s surprising to find that there are many people who not only have trouble using up all their vacation days, but actually refuse to take any days off at all.

Find it hard to believe? Well, many offices have at least one person like this. Research has found that in the U.S., about 15% of employees have not taken vacation in the past year. 

There can be several reasons why employees feel the need to skip their vacations: hope of advancing their careers; fear of returning to a backlog of emails and work; the increase in self-esteem that comes from feeling needed at the office; or the perception of “taking one for the team” by letting others go on vacation instead.

But in the long run, many of these people eventually see the negative effects that come from nonstop work. The lack of time away from the office becomes damaging not only to their own health and personal lives, but also to their relationships with others.

Employers are realizing too that nonstop work for their employees is damaging in the long-term to their productivity at work.

It is apparent that some employees are in desperate need to get away for a while. In fact, according to this Wall Street Journal article, some employers are even offering cash for employees to take their vacations. They realize that when their employees return from their vacation, they come back refreshed and even more productive than before.

Wall Street Journal’s Work & Family Columnist Sue Shellenbarger had the chance to talk to some employees who had not taken time off in years and were finally allowing themselves to take a vacation. Even though it took them a few days relearn how to enjoy their time off, every single one of them saw the benefits. By the end of their vacation, they felt better and got a fresh perspective on things.

Incentive Travel: A Win-Win

In light of these findings, what might be an even better option than cash is to offer incentive travel. Incentive trips can take the stress off the employees who are fearful of taking vacation, because a company-sanctioned trip allows employees to freely relax with their spouses, families, and colleagues. It also helps them forge and build on relationships with their colleagues and leaders, outside of the pressures of the office.

This helps increase the health and wellbeing of employees and improves their personal lives and relationships. And with employees feelings well-rested and renewed after the trip, it’ll sure help them be even more productive, which in turn is a valuable benefit for everyone.