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Ooma Business Blog

How to plan a virtual Worksgiving for your employees.

By Husain Sumra|Monday November 16, 2020

When you run a small business, you get to know your employees very well. In some cases, you might have an almost family connection. If your small business focuses on retaining employees and maintaining high employee satisfaction, a virtual Worksgiving event might be an excellent option.

What is Worksgiving?

Worksgiving is a new word that has recently become popular on social media platforms like Pinterest. The idea is simple: It’s a Thanksgiving gathering or event in the workplace or involving one’s coworkers. It is commonly observed in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. Since it is an unofficial holiday, there is no set definition or schedule. You can take a creative approach.

Organizing this event helps you connect more deeply with your employees as people. In 2020, this kind of event is incredibly valuable. Many people have been working remotely for much of the year, and many social events have been canceled or changed. As a result, your employees are probably getting less social interaction than they might like. Fortunately, you’re not limited to organizing a traditional in-person Worksgiving.

How a virtual Worksgiving event helps your company.

There are a few benefits for small businesses that offer a virtual Worksgiving event for employees. First and foremost, it is a tangible way to show appreciation for your employees. If the company has gone through some difficult times, an event like this can help employees focus on the positive. Further, organizing a virtual Worksgiving event gives employees more opportunities to connect informally. As a result, employee trust and communication may improve.

Planning a virtual Worksgiving.

Use these steps to plan the details of the virtual Worksgiving event. Of course, you will need to customize the plan to your company’s circumstances.

1. Outline a few virtual Worksgiving ideas.

Brainstorm a few ideas for a virtual Thanksgiving event by answering these questions:

  • Are there any other company virtual social events I can use as inspiration? (Example: You might have had a virtual party for an employee’s birthday or the Fourth of July.)
  • What communication tools do your employees have? (Example: Do all of your employees have a business phone at home? Do they have the ability or interest to use video conferencing tools?)
  • What budget can you assign to this effort? (Example: Consider sending digital gift cards to employees as a token of appreciation.)
  • Who could help you to plan and organize the virtual event?
  • Reflect on the most successful team bonding ideas that your company has used, like a virtual scavenger hunt.

2. Invite employees to a conference call to discuss a virtual Worksgiving.

Now that you have some initial ideas for a virtual Worksgiving invite your employees to share their thoughts. Consider organizing a conference call meeting about the event. Tell them about some of your initial ideas from Step 1 of this process.

Extroverted, tech-savvy employees are likely to be excited about the event. However, it is vital to make an effort to give each employee a chance to share their feedback. If some people are not comfortable contributing ideas during the conference, you may want to reach out to them after the meeting in a separate phone call.

Before you end the call, make sure you cover the following points:

  • Confirm that there is employee interest in the virtual Worksgiving.
  • Ask for one or two volunteers to organize the event.
  • Choose a date for the event, such as the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

3. Schedule a virtual Worksgiving planning phone call.

Based on Step 2, you have confirmed that employees are interested in a virtual thanksgiving event. Now it is time to make a plan to address the details. Some areas to cover in this business call include:

  • Communication tools. A successful virtual event is impossible without thinking through communication tools. Does your business phone system come with an included video conferencing app, or do you prefer a dedicated tool like Zoom or even Microsoft Teams?
  • Activity ideas. Ask your employees to share ideas for virtual events like games, virtual trivia and more. Aim for two to five ideas for activities so you can offer some variety at the event.
  • Ideas for surprises or virtual door prizes. Brainstorm some ideas for a surprise gift for employees that can be easily used, such as a gift card for a service that delivers products.

4. Invite employees to the virtual event.

Once you have a solid plan in place from Step 3, send out the invitation to your employees. Keep in mind that your employees may be planning to use some vacation time around the Thanksgiving holiday. Therefore, you might want to schedule the event over lunch or in the afternoon rather than in the evening.

5. Hold the event with a few different activities.

Some recent research has suggested that many people find virtual events, especially video calls, quite tiring. Commonly known as “Zoom fatigue,” keep this fact in mind as you run the event. An hour-long virtual event is probably enough.

Possible virtual Worksgiving events for your small business:

  • Share your favorite round table. Your employees have a life outside of work, and a mini-talent show is a chance to connect over hobbies. For example, ask employees to share their favorite movies and why they love it. You might just end up with some ideas for movies to watch during the holiday.
  • Offer a gratitude session. Some people have a tradition of sharing something they are grateful for during Thanksgiving. You can take the lead here as the business owner by sharing something you are thankful for, like your hard-working employees or the ability to work virtually
  • Discuss Black Friday shopping. Comparing notes on shopping plans can be a fun way to connect with your employees. Maybe your employees will even discover some new deals.

6. Gather feedback from employees after the event.

A few days after the virtual Worksgiving event, send a survey email to your employees to ask for their feedback. Specifically, you may find it helpful to use an anonymous online survey tool like Survey Monkey. Find out which aspects of the event they liked and which they didn’t like. You can then use this insight to organize your next virtual Worksgiving event.

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