Engaging Employees Through Speed-based Programs
'Speed' events are becoming popular employee engagement opportunities in the workplace. Speed mentoring is a proven technique to support employee development that is also enjoyable and fits today's fast-paced work environment. Speed networking is becoming a popular alternative to the traditional business networking events as more people are having to adopt an on-the-go lifestyle. See how the Page offices in Denver and Washington DC utilized these techniques to improve communications and the results they achieved.
Depending on the size of an office or department, this concept is used as a way for each employee to meet with every colleague to discuss the meaning of mentoring, and the components they believe a structured mentoring program should include. Page employees in the Denver office decided that the program should be about engaging, and the slogan became: through engagement we mentor.
The program entails random monthly pairings of each staff member, structured mentor/protégée relationships, and a robust employee development program tailored to the three primary career paths; design, management and technical application. This ensures that everyone is included regardless of discipline and has the opportunity to learn cross-business skills.
Pagers were very excited about the prospects of getting to know each other better, creating a unique synergy within the office and evolving the program's content and structure to benefit our employees professional and personal growth.
No matter how technologically advanced offices become, nothing beats a face-to-face meeting when possible. Not only can individuals use speed networking to establish a connection with other professionals outside of their office, but it can also be adapted as an interoffice event to get to know colleagues.
The structure of speed networking takes its cue from speed dating, where participants interact with each other in a brief one-on-one conversation for a set duration of time. Individuals exchange information, and they choose who they want to follow up with.
The Page Washington DC office positioned its first speed networking event as a community building exercise to learn more about our coworkers. The objective was to create a relaxed atmosphere instead of making employees feel as if they were being interviewed.
Here are a few tips learned along the way to maximize participation and success:
- Choose a large room with multiple tables and different seating arrangements. Page Denver used its main conference room, a space daylit by large windows at the front of the office with a view of the street. Page Washington DC used its breakroom, a common area for our employees to gather.
- Provide food and drinks – everyone loves food!
- Don’t limit the topics. People get nervous about the idea of creating an elevator pitch to sell themselves or their business to another professional. After a long day of work, most people want a break from talking about it. Our Pagers discussed a wide variety of topics including their families, pets, educational backgrounds, past work and common friends.
- Check the business calendar. Everyone won’t be able to make it, but it’s best to try to accommodate as many people as you can. Our leaders, who are constantly traveling and networking outside of the office, made sure to attend each of the events. Their participation gives employees and their leadership teams a chance to get to know one another on a personal level instead of the usual talk about projects.
As a 500–plus person architecture and engineering firm with multiple offices in the U.S. and abroad, it can be challenging to get to know everyone on an individual basis. We continually strive to create events, opportunities and a workplace that encourages a sense of community. Our offices are designed in an open environment to strengthen our daily communication and collaboration. Every month one Page office unwinds on a regular basis with an employee happy hour that incorporates rotational information about different teams. Others have created local traditions such as Chili Cook-offs.
We look forward to continuing to getting to know our community of Pagers as we grow!