Virtual or in-person – employee workshops are a critical part of the feedback process 

During a recent simplycommunity meet-up with our members, we were talking a lot about employee surveys. Traditionally, the start of Q4 spells the time in which organisations tend to issue their employee surveys. In a year like no other, checking in with how people are feeling and doing – whether it’s in-person or virtually – is hugely important.

With hundreds of hours designing and delivering focus groups between us, we’ve shared our best-practice 10-step guide to delivering a successful workshop; whether you’re in-person or virtually.


Lisa Pantelli, head of content & community

Lisa is simply’s head of content and community. She is an award-winning employee engagement and internal communications specialist.

During a recent simplycommunity meet-up with our members, we were talking a lot about employee surveys.

One thing I have always been passionate about is gathering quality and useful insights from employees. On many occasions, I have had conversations with clients and/ or prospective clients and when asked what their challenge is the response is ‘we think…’. My response back is always, ‘well, let’s ask them and then we’ll know.’

Now, this isn’t to say that they don’t have some finger on the pulse of what their employees are thinking/ feeling/ saying, but more often than not, time and resource has meant that they haven’t really been able to get to the heart of an issue. For those who conduct staff surveys, there perhaps is some understanding of potential issues but as we all know, staff surveys often start and stop with a survey, and little is really done with the findings to get a decent picture.

For me, it is nearly impossible to develop an employee engagement or internal communications plan without quality insight. Quality insight for me is that which is gathered from employees, across all levels and which asks the right questions – not the ones which solicit the sort of answers you want to hear.

Running workshops are time-intensive and can be daunting if you’ve no prior experience. An added layer of complexity is applied when you are having to run these virtually.

But don’t let this put you off.

Employee workshops are a fantastic way of gathering insight and an opportunity to engage people with a particular subject matter or issue too.

There are many resources around which offer tips on facilitation, which is a whole other topic altogether, but for those looking for some practical help with setting one up, I thought I’d share my 10-point blueprint for setting up and running a successful employee workshop. If you have any good examples or other ideas to include here, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear them.

Step 1: Prepare for your workshop

Preparation is, as with anything key to a successful and worthwhile workshop. People will quickly look for distractions if they don’t understand why they’re there, their purpose or if they’re just being spoken to for a long period of time.

Identify clear, SMART objectives

It sounds obvious but really do take the time to plan the session. What is it you want to achieve? What takeaways are you after? Having clarity over what insight you need to gather will make the planning process so much easier. I’m a fan of mapping out a workshop in 15-minute chunks and for workshops to last between 1.5 – 2.5 hours. This gives you enough time for any appropriate ice-breakers, contingency and breaks. Any longer then you can quickly lose people’s concentration…

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