Even as many of our business conversations move to chat platforms like Slack or GChat, company meetings continue to play a pivotal role in corporate communication. They serve as platforms where ideas are exchanged, progress is shared, and strategies are aligned.
One of the more ubiquitous meeting formats is the "all-hands meeting." Also referred to as a "town hall" meeting, this gathering involves every member of the organization, from top-level executives to entry-level employees. Its purpose is to ensure that everyone is on the same page and informed about company updates, performance, and future plans.
All-hands meetings hold a unique value in building a shared sense of purpose. As a space for democratic dialogue, they are a powerful tool for nurturing transparency and collaboration — both of which drive greater success.
These practical tips will help you host an all-hands meeting that is engaging and impactful for all of the employees within your organization.
Why All-Hands Meetings Are Important
All-hands meetings are crucial gatherings that bring together every member of an organization, fostering company-wide communication and unity. They align employee goals and behaviors with the company's mission, values, and goals through transparent and inclusive communication.
These meetings provide a platform for leadership to share updates, insights, and strategic visions directly with the entire workforce. They allow all employees to be well-informed about the company's performance, challenges, and future plans. This visibility reinforces a sense of belonging and investment, as it emphasizes how every employee plays a vital role in the company's success. When individuals understand the impact of their efforts on the larger mission, it enhances employee engagement.
All-hands meetings can also be an effective tool for breaking down barriers between seniority groups. It gives all employees the opportunity to interact directly with leadership, ask questions, and share their perspectives. This interaction nurtures a culture of openness, where diverse viewpoints are valued and heard. It encourages a strong sense of community and inclusion, which in turn strengthens the overall company culture.
How to Plan an All-Hands Meeting
- Set Clear Objectives
Establishing clear objectives for each all-hands meeting helps ensure meaningful and successful use of time. It gives the meeting a road map, helps leaders convey key messages, and boosts participant engagement.
Having a clear goal for the meeting helps refine what content messages are going to be conveyed in the all-hands. It allows HR leaders to plan the meeting within a structure, allocating time appropriately and avoiding unnecessary tangents.
Objectives can also align the meeting with broader organizational goals. Tying the meeting's purpose to the company's values and objectives is what helps employees see the larger context , and better understand how their contributions fit into the organization's trajectory.
Finally, objectives also enable HR departments to evaluate the effectiveness of the meeting. With concrete goals, it becomes possible to assess whether the intended outcomes were achieved after the meeting. This evaluation enables organizations to continuously improve the effectiveness of their all-hands meetings.
- Craft Engaging Content
Crafting compelling and engaging content for all-hands meetings requires a thoughtful approach that balances informative updates with emotional resonance. This is done by mixing two or more of the following elements together:
- Storytelling: Share personal anecdotes or stories that highlight company successes, resilience, and growth. These narratives humanize the updates and successes, making them relatable and inspiring for the workforce.
- Visuals: Incorporate visuals like videos, infographics, or images to illustrate wellness-related updates. Visual content tends to capture attention and convey information more effectively than text alone.
- Interactive Segments: Include interactive elements such as Q&A sessions, polls, or small group discussions. This boosts participation, engages attendees, and encourages open dialogue about wellness topics.
- Recognition: Celebrate employees who have overcome challenges or achieved wellness milestones. Publicly acknowledging their efforts reinforces a culture of support and motivation.
- Guest Speakers: Invite experts in your field to speak during the meeting. Their insights can provide valuable advice and perspectives, enhancing the relevance and impact of the content.
- Employee Testimonials: Allow employees to share their experiences dealing with and finding solutions to recent challenges. This not only showcases authenticity but also provides practical insights for others.
- Progress Updates: Highlight progress made on initiatives or changes introduced in previous meetings. Demonstrating tangible results makes it clear to employees that their work is moving the company forward.
- Incorporate Activities: Utilize interactive platforms or apps to engage employees in real-time activities — like gathering employee input or conducting a companywide mindfulness exercise — to boost engagement, especially for remote employees who may be attending meetings in a room alone.
- Variety: Mix different types of content, such as updates, challenges, successes, and interactive elements, to maintain interest and cater to diverse preferences.
- Foster Two-Way Communication
Open communication during all-hands meetings nurtures transparency, engagement, and collaboration. It empowers employees to voice their opinions, ask questions, and contribute ideas. This helps build a more informed and connected workforce.
Incorporating interactive elements is a valuable way to inject two-way communication in such a large group setting. Q&A sessions provide a direct avenue for employees to seek clarifications, express concerns, or delve deeper into presented topics. You can encourage participants to submit questions in advance or during the meeting and dedicate a segment for thoughtful responses. This addresses immediate queries while reinforcing that leadership values input from all levels.
For a more involved approach, interactive breakout sessions can encourage smaller group discussions, facilitating more personal interactions. This approach creates a safe space for sharing insights and tips, promoting a sense of camaraderie among colleagues. Additionally, polls or surveys during these sessions can gather valuable feedback and preferences, enabling the organization to tailor wellness initiatives effectively.
Incorporating wellness-related discussions further enhances open communication by building trust. Allocating time for employees to share personal experiences, strategies, or challenges related to their wellbeing creates a supportive environment where employees can support each other’s holistic wellness. Embracing these conversations helps to break down stigmas surrounding mental health and encourages employees to prioritize self-care. This supports increased job satisfaction, improved morale, and higher productivity – ultimately leading to better overall business outcomes.
- Give Recognition
Recognizing employee achievements and contributions during all-hands meetings holds significant value in boosting morale, fostering a positive work environment, and reinforcing a culture of appreciation. There are many ways you can inject recognition into your town halls, like:
- Naming the employees who provided key contributions to a recent company success.
- Announcing your employee of the month awards, including a photo of the winner in your presentation and a story that illustrates why they were selected.
- Spotlighting departments that have made significant contributions to the company’s annual goals.
- Highlighting any employees who have gone above and beyond in their roles, or who have achieved a major personal milestone.
- Encouraging a round of applause for recent promotions or new hires.
- Letting employees recognize each other for outstanding performance through recognition programs or peer-to-peer awards.
- Thanking employees who have given their time to volunteer initiatives, civic organizations, or pro bono services in the community by giving them a chance to share stories from their experiences.
- Celebrating the milestones of any new products, services, or initiatives that have been released over the last year, tracking all of the work different employees did to make those changes happen.
- Sharing customer success stories and employee stories from work done in the field, which can be used to demonstrate how employees are making a difference for their customers.
- Cheering on employees who reach certain tenure milestones, from their first anniversary to their fiftieth year with the company.
These recognitions build a culture of appreciation where employees feel seen and valued. This can turn your all-hands into an important part of your talent retention strategy, as employees who feel appreciated are less likely to quit than underappreciated staffers.
- Build in Accessibility
An all hands meeting is for everyone. To make that a reality, your town hall needs to be truly accessible to everyone. Asking yourself the following questions ask you plan can help you build a program that is useful to every employee:
- Will the time of the meeting work with our employees’ schedules, especially across time zones?
- Can we provide ASL or close captioning during the meeting for employees with limited hearing?
- To accommodate employees with the most common forms of color blindness, have we avoided green and red text for critical information, or overlaying yellow and blue slide elements?
- What forms of translation can we provide to make it easier for employees working in their second language to understand the meeting?
- Will the meeting be accessible on any device — including computers and phones — for remote employees?
- Have we established communication channels for employees who want to ask questions or contribute ideas, but are uncomfortable with public speaking?
- Is it possible for us to record the meeting to include employees who cannot make it at the scheduled time?
- Can we set up a survey after the town hall to help us better understand employee sentiment?
- Is there any other way that we can make the meeting as inclusive and accessible to all employees as possible?
By creating an all hands meeting that is as inclusive and accessible as possible, every single employee can be more engaged and informed about the business’s progress. This helps the entire organization operate efficiently and effectively.
Keep the Inspiration of an All-Hands Alive
When done well, all-hands meetings can be powerful tools for increasing transparency, unity, and alignment within organizations. By turning these meetings to dynamic and purposeful conversations, organizations cultivate an inspired and informed workforce.
Taking care of employee wellbeing enables your organization to maintain that inspiration. Wellness activities, like gym memberships or meditation app subscriptions, help employees stay fresh and motivated in their role. And this keeps them going: There’s a reason 75% of HR leaders say their wellness program is very important or extremely important to employee retention.
Whether a team member is aiming for personal bests in the gym, a refreshed state of mental wellbeing, or an improved financial approach, Gympass can help them get there.
Talk to a wellbeing specialist to learn how Gympass your benefits can improve employee wellbeing!
- Bloznalis, S. (2022, February 3). Human Workplace Index – Rethinking to Retain Talent. Workhuman. Polly. Retrieved September 25, 2023 from https://www.workhuman.com/blog/human-workplace-index-rethinking-to-retain-talent/
- Dickson, George. (n.d.). 11 Tips for Making Your Next All Hands Meeting a Raging Success. Polly. Retrieved September 25, 2023 from https://www.polly.ai/blog/how-to-lead-delightful-all-hands-meetings-your-team-looks-forward-to.
- Lanier, Saphia. (2023, January 30). How To Run an Effective All-Hands Meeting. Hubspot. Retrieved September 25 from https://blog.hubspot.com/the-hustle/all-hands-meeting.
- Mrvova, Katy. (2022, October 14). What Is an All-Hands Meeting and How to Host a Great One. Slido. Retrieved September 25 from https://blog.slido.com/what-is-an-all-hands-meeting-and-why-should-you-start-having-one/.
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.