An all-hands company meeting is an event where all employees and leaders gather to discuss important company matters. These meetings can occur virtually, in person, or as a hybrid of both.
All-hands company meetings are also known as all-company meetings, forums, or town halls.
What is the purpose of an all-hands meeting?
The goal of an all-company meeting is to get all workers and leaders into the same room or space to connect. At larger companies, this type of gathering can be one of the only times all staff can hear from and ask questions of leadership and senior leadership teams.
While the purpose of all-team meetings can be different for every company, in general the aim is to increase employee engagement and transparency, to allow for sharing of information, and to give workers a chance to speak and ask questions.
An-all company meeting can be structured in a way that works best for an organization. Often, these meetings can take a few hours or can even be held over the course of a day.
Speakers, usually the leaders of the organization, provide company updates and review the agenda for the meeting. After this, departments can offer updates, introduce new team members, and celebrate successes or specific employees. There is usually a part of the meeting that is open for questions or for discussion about a company-wide issue.
This type of meeting has many benefits, including:
- Allowing a diversity of opinions and feedback.
- Celebrating and sharing information together.
- Connecting team members, including those who might work in the field or remotely.
- Fostering company culture.
It’s up to an organization to decide when it would be beneficial to start having all-company meetings. In general, businesses may decide to hold all-company meetings once they grow to the point where they can no longer easily communicate with each team member every day. For some organizations, that may be when they reach 50 people. For others, it may be when they reach 100 or more employees.
How often are they held?
The frequency of an all-hands company meeting is largely down to the needs of the organization. Some companies may schedule regular all-hands meetings weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly, whilst others may have them as and when needed.
What are some challenges with all-company meetings?
One of the biggest challenges with all-hands meetings is providing value, especially since a large group of employees may have different needs. To make a meeting productive for everyone, it is important to consider all audience members and to plan carefully.
While all-hands meetings can foster company culture and transparency, they can also highlight challenges. Addressing issues such as downsizing or restructuring at an all-company meeting can cause workers to react with strong emotions. Companies need to decide the most appropriate way to communicate and discuss these sensitive topics. The specific needs and culture of a business will help to determine this.
What makes a good all-hands meeting?
Good all-employee meetings should have the following characteristics.
- A clear goal: Avoid meetings for the sake of meetings. If you have yearly company-wide gatherings, your main goal may be to have everyone connect. If you are undergoing a big change, the main purpose of the meeting may be to give people a chance to ask questions. In either case, a clear goal gives your event focus.
- Interaction: One of the advantages of an all-company meeting is the ability to bring all of your employees together. Setting aside at least a third of the meeting to Q&A periods or open discussion will allow you to take advantage of everyone gathering together and give employees that may not otherwise have their voices heard the opportunity to do so.
- Accessibility and inclusion: Use different types of technology, including written, spoken, and visual formats, to make sure everyone can access the information you’re sharing. If you have remote workers joining in, make sure they can see everything and access all parts of the meeting.
How to plan an effective all-company meeting?
Good preparation and a clear agenda are important components of a successful all-hands company meeting.
- Set the dates early and send out invitations: Determine whether your meeting will be a regular or one-time event. Book a venue if you need to and let everyone at your company know when and where to attend. Try to get each employee to indicate whether they are attending, so you can plan accordingly.
- Create a good agenda: Consider your goal for the meeting. You may wish to include a company overview, introduction of new hires, department updates, milestones, company updates, celebrations, and a discussion or Q&A in your company-wide meeting. Think about which of these, if any, make sense for your event and keep it as succinct as possible. If you’re not sure whether to include something in a meeting, consider whether it could be as effectively handled in a report, video, email, or another form of communication.
- Share information ahead of time: Share the agenda and written information before the meeting, and invite any questions in advance so that both speakers and employees can come prepared.
- Test your tech: Test slides, visuals, video, audio, and any other tech ahead of time. All presenters should be comfortable with the technology they’ll be using.
- Plan for remote attendees: If your meeting has a mix of in-person and virtual attendance, ensure someone is in charge of making the virtual attendee experience a positive one. For example, make sure you have someone checking the chat feature of your videoconferencing platform so questions and comments from remote workers are included in the meeting. Any activities included in your agenda, such as team-building exercises, should include virtual attendees too.
- Have multiple speakers: Including speakers from different departments can make your meeting more engaging and ensures a variety of voices are heard. If your all-company meetings are regular events, consider who gets to speak at each one. If senior leadership presents information at one meeting, for example, consider giving managers this responsibility at the next event.
- Record and share the meeting: This allows those who couldn’t attend the meeting to have access to it, as well as allowing anyone that wishes to review the meeting to do so. When sending out the recording, include any slides or written materials the presenters used, and invite employees to send follow-up questions to keep the conversation going. Leaders at your company can also review the recording to find ways to improve the next event.
- Conduct a survey: After the meeting, seek feedback about what employees would like to see at your all-company meetings in the future. Capture this information and create a plan for incorporating as many of the suggestions as possible.
The bottom line about all-hands meetings
Company-wide meetings can help get all employees into the same room, which can be an ideal time to take the pulse of the organization, share changes and good news, and discuss company issues together. To ensure that your event is a productive and efficient use of everyone’s time, it’s important to create an interactive all-hands company meeting that keeps your employees engaged.