What's in a theme? Planning and content the new keys to events

Updated: Nov 12, 2021

STAFF EVENTS: The pandemic has naturally added a somber tone to many communication strategies, and staff events have faced a major overhaul in 2021.

Even as they have migrated to online platforms, events have become simpler, with the key focus being on delivering uplifting and unifying messages, rather than on pyrotechnics and technical wizardry.


Many companies, as such, have themed their staff appreciation parties around the concepts of superheroes, gratitude, and giving thanks. Adam Piperdy, Chief Experience Officer at events firm Unearthed Productions, shared that one Singapore government office whose work had been directly impacted by the pandemic, made its Dinner and Dance event all about celebrating employees for their hard work and resilience over the previous year.


Another client, a private aviation company, found that a virtual staff party was also a good time for the CEO to share his recovery roadmap and goals. He used the event to further encourage employees, and emphasise the key message of bouncing back even stronger than before.


“(A staff party) is a great way to put everyone together at the end of a tough year, and the key to that is putting on a good show,” Piperdy says.


“It’s not an event that we simply put on Zoom, but an unforgettable event experience with good content, storytelling, and high production values. So that’s the winning formula.”


Hybrid events also in demand

A hybrid approach, in which a small number of staff join in from a physical location, while the rest participate virtually from the comforts of their homes, is also increasingly sought after these days.


One organisation that recently employed such a dual method for its annual staff retreat was Singapore-based pre-school centre network PCF Sparkletots.


One of its Northeast district divisions decided to go ahead with holding the event in July this year, after having already postponed it from 2020 due to Covid-19. Government restrictions on recreational gatherings and a large number of employees there were close to 300 full-timers and part-timers altogether in this particular district meant the retreat had to take place remotely and online.


Around 50 employees were based at the vendor’s physical site, while the rest joined in individually from their homes.


All sorts of activities and games, selected for their fun, engagement and virtual friendliness factors, were played during the half-day event. One of the activities saw participants scurry all around their houses to be the first to find ten highly specific and random items, such as a birdcage, in order to win prize vouchers.

From time to time, employees were grouped together into private breakout rooms, which allowed them to interact and connect more intimately with one another.


“The event was really for staff to take their minds off of work, have fun and relax for an entire day, as childcare is not easy and we just wanted to show our appreciation to all our staff,” an insider told Chief of Staff Asia, noting that the event received glowing reviews from employees.


This case study is extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Staff Events and Engagement. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

The distanced social: How employers are approaching staff events in 2021 (full report)

Staff events forced to get creative: Chief of Staff report (news highlight) November 2, 2021

Staff events suffer from the ultimate disruption (feature) November 4, 2021

Taking staff events into the virtual stratosphere (feature) November 8, 2021 Prudential's PLAYful take on virtual staff engagement (case study) November 10, 2021

Will virtual events survive (or thrive) in the new normal? (feature) November 11, 2021

Five tips to elevate your virtual staff event (Tips for HR) November 12, 2021

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