Why Another Virtual Happy Hour Isn't the Answer

Employee engagement is a hot topic these days. With most tech workers still working remotely, the complexity of how to connect...

February 23, 2021
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Employee engagement is a hot topic these days. With most tech workers still working remotely, the complexity of how to connect a virtual workplace is top of mind. At the start of the pandemic, we saw a wave of organizations starting with the logical question: if we now must adapt to a virtual world, how do we take what once worked in a physical space and bring that experience to the virtual world? 

Nearly one year after the start of the pandemic, this approach has left us with a flooding of virtual team coffee chats, yoga classes, and happy hours. We responded in the way we thought made the most sense. However, what we see now, is that another virtual happy hour isn't the answer to our employee engagement problem. It's contributing to it.

Employees feel engaged when recognized for their work and reminded of how they are making a valuable contribution to the company and its overall success. Engaged employees understand how their work impacts the company's goals and are confident that the work they do matters. Recognition is a critical component to ensuring your employees feel valued and stay engaged long after the video chat goodbyes are over.

Our workplace and the norms within it are changing at a rapid pace. The old ways of employee engagement must catch up to the times and change too. I don't believe the rate of these radical changes is going away after the pandemic. Instead, I think we'll only continue to see more changes ahead of how we get work done. If we continue to rely on what worked for us in a physical space, we miss out on all of the new opportunities that a virtual space provides. We must explore how to derive the most significant benefits from a virtual world given its future reality. 

The happy hour is not at its best in a virtual space -- and that's okay. There are endless ways to engage your teams that shine in a virtual world. It's time we evolve from our attempts to translate the physical into the virtual world. Instead, I encourage all leaders to lean into the employee engagement initiatives that are better executed in a virtual environment and enjoy the possibilities that these bring.

To get you started, here are some employee engagement ideas that provide a lasting impact in a virtual workplace 

  • Recognize employee achievements and milestones: Recognition leaves employees with a sense of accomplishment and value for their contributions. Workplace recognition can be collaborative, too -- share wins at team meetings and highlights exceptional achievements and virtual recognition leaderboards at company all hands. Employee recognition increases productivity and loyalty to the company, leading to higher retention.
  • Offer flexibility as much as possible: Your employees are working hard amid complex circumstances. Respect their evening time to relax and unplug in the ways that serve them best. You'll benefit from a truly recharged team.
  • Check-in 1:1: For many employees, a personal check-in goes a long way in helping them feel recognized and valued. Shake up the norm and offer to meet 1:1 over a phone call walk-and-talk for an honest check-in. 
  • Embed inclusivity: Partner with Employee Resource Groups to learn about the experiences of employees from different groups. Listen to their perspectives and hear their advice about what they need. Virtual training through conferences or online courses can provide tailored experiences to your employees, making them feel engaged and included. 
  • Continue to socialize and normalize mental health resources: HR leaders should pay special attention to how they help employees navigate their workload and overall mental health. More than ever, organizations should over-communicate the available resources, the value that these resources provide, and the normalcy of pausing to prioritize one's mental health.
  • Survey your employees: Access to employee pulse survey data provides insight into how your employees are doing and what they need. Ask survey questions that dig into what makes employees feel recognized and engaged. The data will enable you to create an action plan around the gaps that exist and go deeper into programming that's working.

Assembly's employee engagement platform creates the foundation needed for meaningful recognition in a virtual world. Employees can give and receive recognition throughout the organization -- engaging with colleagues across locations, levels, and teams with interactive gifs and personalized messages. Time zones and physical workspaces are a non-issue as employees build connections through earned badges and points that can be redeemed for culture awards and prizes.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

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Employee recognition guide