In-House Events and Corporate Learning: A Winning Combination?
Rethinking our in-house events in the age of hybrid work
Corporate learning and fun events don’t go together, right? Wrong! They absolutely do, because learning with and from one another is the most natural way of acquiring new knowledge. Add a little entertainment to the mix, and you’re learning without even knowing it.
With the adoption of our hybrid work model, it was time to think up new ways of making our events truly global and bringing teams together across national borders. The new event formats had to be interactive, entertaining and capable of being held physically, remotely or in hybrid form. We wanted new paradigms that would allow us to get together for shared occasions, unconstrained by national borders. Mission accomplished! We succeeded in creating new events that are huge fun and allow us to learn without feeling like we’re learning.
What follows is a round-up of our favourites – formats that enhance our learning culture while being immensely entertaining.
The imc Learning Festival: From Spanish courses to learning with GIFs
One format we’re especially proud of is our hybrid Learning Festival. Our employees set the programme themselves – in much the same way as a BarCamp. Anyone can give a presentation on a favourite topic, and the attendees are free to pick and choose which sessions to join. Streamed and moderated from our headquarters, the individual sessions run on Microsoft Teams so that employees from across various locations can get together, share ideas and learn from one another. The point is that the members of a team don’t necessarily all have to be physically at the same location in order to meet up. The flexibility provided by the hybrid work model means employees are free to decide whether they want to organize a get-together at a particular location or hold the event in entirely virtual form.
While a colleague hosted an innovative session on 'Learning with GIFs', Senior business consultant Natalia Gonzalez, offered an interactive online Spanish session that yielded valuable cultural insights, not to mention a few handy Spanish phrases that employees can use on their next holiday abroad. “I love being able to share a little about my Mexican culture, and it was great to see how interested my colleagues were in learning something about other cultures – and how much fun they had doing it”, she says. “I’m already really looking forward to the next Learning Festival.”
This new format is all about sharing knowledge and learning together. It sheds light on new possibilities for informal, festival-style learning.
Breakfast, lunch or after-work party? Social learning with a new twist
Living and discussing diversity and inclusion in our company is the right thing to do and is extremely important. A few years ago, we started running various special events to mark Diversity Day and raise awareness of these important issues. This year, the organising team went a step further and came up with something extra-special for our Diversity & Inclusion Week. In an event themed ‘imc goes around the world’, each of our offices organised its own unique style of local get-together.
In Freiburg, for example, the team organised a belated traditional ‘May Day hike’, while the London office held a shared breakfast. “Each team member brought along a culinary specialty typical of their national cuisine”, says Ramona Lennerhed, a senior consultant in our London office. “During the meal, each person provided a little background about the dish they had brought along. It was a wonderful opportunity to broaden our understanding of cultural differences and learn about the different personal experiences of our colleagues.”
Our colleagues in Switzerland organized a physical gathering, too, opting for a team lunch. The team in Sibiu, meanwhile, gathered for a shared evening meal, enjoying great food and great company late into the night.
At imc headquarters in Saarbrücken, the crew organised an after-work party, where everyone was invited to bring along culinary delights from different countries. “Even though I’m not actually based in Saarbrücken, I felt right at home and enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with colleagues I wouldn’t normally see in person. And to top it all off, we had all this amazing food. I’d definitely be up for a repeat performance”, says Franziska Filser, an instructional designer from our Freiburg office who happened to be in Saarbrücken at the time.
This week of special events was a resounding success, as Julia Heib, an event manager and a member of the organising team, confirms: “The feedback from everyone has been overwhelmingly positive, and it was very obvious during the week that everybody around the globe was getting into the spirit of these events, despite the hybrid model. Every year, more and more colleagues are getting excited about and looking forward to imc’s Diversity & Inclusion programme.”
Our week of special events was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the cultural identities of our people – as a by-product of getting together and having fun. Eating together is, after all, one of the most fundamentally unifying of human experiences.
Learning Days: The perfect mix of upskilling and teambuilding
Here’s another prime example of how corporate learning can be integrated into a team event: the Learning Days run by our marketing and newsroom team in Saarbrücken. Themed ‘YouLearn’, the Learning Days are where the members of the team undertake professional development on a self-selected topic and then share their learnings with the whole team. This sharing takes place in a fun, informal setting, both during a shared office lunch and at after-work drinks. “As well as professional development on self-selected topics, our Learning Days are a welcome opportunity to get the whole team together at the office”, says Kerstin Steffen, Director Brand Strategy. It’s all about learning together and spending time together.
Short and sweet: Our espresso sessions
We also have something for all those of us who prefer virtual events: our imcINSPIRE sessions, aka ‘espresso webinars’. These brief morning sessions offer a daily infusion of new ideas on a whole range of topics, all served up by top-notch speakers. So far, we’ve raised a cup to all kinds of topics – everything from diversity and health management to teambuilding. And like a good espresso, these sessions provide a big hit for minimal input. They are another great example of packaging knowledge transfer in an inspiring event format to create a fun shared learning experience.
Mission accomplished: Teambuilding and learning in one
So, what’s the verdict? In short: fun, entertaining events and corporate learning are not mutually exclusive. Quite the contrary, in fact. Our mission was to find event formats that enable us to learn with and from one another in a way that is rich in entertainment. Learning should not feel like learning, and we believe our new event formats deliver on this. Even so, we will continue to try out and test various formats, to see which ones we should take further, and what improvements are required. Exciting times! Where will our journey take us next?
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I' ve been working as a permanent member of the imc Marketing & Communication Team since 2021. The mix of creative content creation, social media and online marketing activities excites me the most about my job.
My goal is to inspire people with creative and innovative content and to make the imc brand more tangible.
My passion besides my job? Travelling a lot and discovering the world. I am always happy to receive feedback or suggestions at Doreen.Hartmann@im-c.de!