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Blog article 4 min read

How to balance employee engagement and cost control in 2023

Preslea Jane

Written on

It doesn’t have to be one or the other: both cost efficiency and exceptional in-person events can and should be prioritized in 2023.

With the cost of in-person events expected to rise 32% from 2019 levels this year, along with inflation and recession fears, the pressure to save costs is on while demand for in-person events continues to grow.

Here’s how you can optimize your company’s meetings and events budget to achieve more with less.

The potential savings are greater than you think

Do you have a clear sense of your company’s overall event and meeting budget? If the answer is no, you’re not alone.

The best way to keep employee engagement alive while keeping costs low is visibility. Knowing where your money is going is the crucial first step in controlling costs, especially when it comes to seemingly small expenses that add up over time. For corporate companies, anything under a certain threshold often goes unnoticed, and the scattered, smaller costs remain completely unoptimized.

Pro-tip💡 Meetings and events between 10 and 200 attendees make up 43% of the average company’s total travel and event spend; making it an area with huge potential for savings.

Think about how often teams of 25 have a dinner, offices order a catered lunch, coworkers head to the bar — these are often unaccounted for. Even more often, they are not the most cost-effective option compared to what’s out there.

New payment methods, expense tracking, and centralized planning tools are making it possible for finance professionals to gain visibility and leverage the same budget optimization processes that they apply to other parts of their budget such as travel.

With small events taking up 9% of the average organization’s total budget, the impact at a company level is high.

The value of investing in small events

Creating a program for meetings and events can save you money in the short term, with tenfold savings in the long term. The positive impacts of investing in these are clearly seen when it comes to individual employee engagement, efficient real estate usage, and an increasingly connected work culture.

We know how vital trust is for workplace efficiency. It allows for conversations where everyone’s ideas are able to be shared, and constructive criticism becomes productive; something actionable, something welcomed. That trust is almost exclusively built within these intentional meetings and events.

Creating opportunities to have more frequent and intimate gatherings, instead of massive, impersonal ones, is key. An M&E program keeps costs within budget, saves time for employees and generates savings, making it a non-negotiable for companies looking to scale without losing sight of their values.

Connection is important for everyone no matter which point they are at in their career. However, we’ve noticed that it is especially so for young professionals; fresh out of school and ready to be immersed in the workspace. Experienced workers in a big enterprise could be quite efficient working remotely, but young people need the learning opportunities, advice and guidance that comes from being surrounded by other professionals — from impromptu conversations to focused one-on-one meetings.

What to expect in terms of ROI

On the whole, the potential for return on investment of these team-building initiatives is huge. There are two avenues: the potential for savings with optimization, and the risk of not investing and optimizing.

With talk of quiet quittings and quiet firings, the ideal approach is proactively paying attention to engagement, preventing unnecessary costs, harmful dynamics and reactivity.

Employee turnover is known to have multiple negative effects on a company: lowering morale, decreasing productivity, high costs for replacing employees, adjustment time of new employees, loss of experiential knowledge, and workplace cultural impact.

With quiet quittings, you have employees who are staying but are completely disengaged. When people disengage or quit, it creates a vicious cycle that costs much more time, money and energy than it would to invest in team building in the first place.

It is estimated that it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary to replace one salaried employee, on average.

Not only do you lose disengaged employees and the time it takes recruiters to find people, even your most productive workers want to leave because they don’t want to be in that work environment.

How you can do more with less

Here are the strategies that have been effective for our clients working with tight budgets:

1. Improve tracking and visibility using dedicated payment methods. The best way to save is by knowing what you spend. Consider using event technology to help centralize your planning processes.

2. Encourage smaller yet more frequent events. On a smaller scale, you can be strategic about who attends which events, creating new, intentional connections.

3. Provide event planners with the knowledge they need to negotiate. Nowadays, everyone can plan a small corporate event. By empowering employees to carry out the planning process, procurement and finance teams can retain oversight while freeing up time to focus on other priorities. Keep up-to-date lists of discounts and price lists so that everyone is on the same page.

4. Push your company’s deals. On that same note, not everyone in your organization is aware that the company has a deal with a certain hotel chain or preferred suppliers. Equipping those with varying levels of planning experience with the knowledge they need will ensure you get the most value for deals you’ve already put time into negotiating.

5. Work with existing real estate. At lower costs, you can have events in the office like wine-and-paint nights or having a speaker for a lunch and learn. Informal events have worked wonders at Planned for building those relationships outside the business context, even if it’s within the same walls.

See the potential and take action toward more visibility, leveraging the tools available, and prioritizing connection in your company.

Let’s plan!