4 Ways to Make Your Next Annual Meeting Feel More Like Happy Hour

December 16, 2022

There’s a reason Happy Hour thrived during the pandemic. Albeit virtually, the popular workplace social hung on even as so-called “Zoom Fatigue” settled in.

Why? Because Happy Hour does something to our brains.

As workplace culture expert Kristen Brown says, Happy Hour stimulates a mindset shift that helps people be at their best, both at home and at work.

So, as you plan your annual meeting for 2023, challenge your teams to come up with ways to cultivate those Happy Hour vibes. Here are few ideas, inspired by the bank’s own annual meeting, the Bank Iowa Summit. The event brings together nearly 275 employees from 23 communities and 26 locations across Iowa.

1.     Kickoff with an Actual Happy Hour: The evening before Summit, Bank Iowa hosts our employees at a high-energy venue where they can catch up and bond with colleagues they haven’t seen in a while. The idea is to solidify the personal relationships that will carry them through the next day’s events.

2.     Workshop with a Seating Chart: When it comes time to deliberate new solutions to your organization’s biggest challenges, be intentional about how groups are organized. Assign tables and seating so that the frontline gets paired with the C-suite, sales with product, admin with marketing, and so on.

3.     Foster Camaraderie: In addition to nurturing diversity for creativity, we also want to remind ourselves what keeps us connected. For us, that’s the bank’s Purpose, Vision and Values (PVV). We baked in frequent reminders of the PVV through our annual event.

4.     Reward Attendance: We’ve all been there. You get invited to a Happy Hour during what seems like a really busy and inconvenient time. But after deciding to go anyway, you come away grateful to have gone. Instead of forcing attendance at your annual meeting, incentive it with a reward. Bank Iowa provides each of its attending team members with an extra day of PTO.  

Small businesses that may not have hundreds of employees to bring together should still make it a point to get their full team into a single space at least once per year, especially now that we can do so relatively safely. When working apart, we may be doing our best, but we’re not necessarily at our best.

The fellowship and fun that comes from being together opens the mind and the soul to new ideas, making nearly everyone grateful to have gone. Good luck planning your next annual meeting, and if you need someone to brainstorm with, call me. I’d be happy to meet for a Happy Hour.