Employee Events in a COVID World

Employee Events in a COVID World

We are now almost a year in to a worldwide pandemic that has shut us down, killed almost two million people worldwide, and changed the way business works. The last year has wreaked havoc on everything we, as marketers, had planned: events, budgets, strategies, and many other things. And it has hurt morale among our teams. As we are entering our second tax season dealing with COVID, let’s take a look at some fantastic ideas to make our teams’ season just a little more enjoyable.

As I began writing this article, I posted on the AAM Forum asking for some insights into what other have been doing and what they have planned for this year. And, boy, did you guys come through! Below is a list of ideas that is sure to spark your creativity and boost your team’s morale this season.

What’s Been Going on Throughout AAM?

Rea & Associates, located in Ohio, created a Committee of Awesome last year with the goal of bringing the team together to instill a feeling of community even though they continued to work remote. Here are some GREAT ideas that Abigail Kanellakis shared:

  • Socially Distanced Summer Picnic with a food truck, games, raffles, and live music
  • Baseball in the parking lot
  • Bag Lunch Wednesdays with quiz bowl and prizes (and a final tournament!)
  • Puppy Play Date. If you did not see this one, I highly recommend checking it out on Rea’s social media. Who can say no to puppies and a puppy costume contest?
  • Harvest Party with a bonfire in the parking lot
  • Drive-In Movie
  • Happy Hour and Ornament Decoration

In spite of the pandemic, Rea was still able to participate in many community service projects, too, raising more than $10,000 through fundraisers. Abby participated in a Facebook Live interview where she shared what the firm has been doing and the benefits of their events.

Isdaner & Company, located in Pennsylvania, held several Zoom socials and even managed to host a virtual retirement party. Their socials included:

  • “Maskerade” contest with trivia
  • Murder Mystery Zoom
  • Virtual Happy Hour Socials

In 2021, the firm is planning for more virtual events such as a virtual Escape Room, and my personal favorite, a live discussion with a local author to discuss upcoming events. Employees will also receive a copy of the author’s book.

At Wouch Maloney in Pennsylvania, the firm held a costume contest to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, participated in a few walks that incorporated families and pets in a socially-distanced environment, and a virtual holiday party with games and trivia.

In Washington at Sweeney Conrad, their office holiday party included a virtual trip package from Trove. Employees could then participate in a live cooking class with an Italian chef and a watercolor workshop with an Italian artist. Fantastico!

California-based Sensiba San Filippo filmed a full studio broadcast for their State of the Firm/Christmas Party. The broadcast included a comedian, live music, a musician, and even snow! The firm also sent snack boxes to employees throughout the year and is looking at sending Hello Fresh or Blue Apron to staff during busy season in 2021.

At my firm, Landmark CPAs in Arkansas, we had a full schedule in October and November to raise money during our annual United Way Campaign. My firm had several socially-distanced lunches where we catered in boxed lunches and then all joined a Zoom call from our desks to learn about a few United Way agencies that our fundraisers help support. We had weekly raffles that included Amazon gift cards, lottery tickets, surprises, and a staff favorite—a hand-crocheted cozy blanket made by one of our partners. We had a pizza lunch, a chili cook-off, a taco bar with a Mario Kart competition, a Halloween Door Decorating Contest, and a sundae cart that went office-to-office one day during virtual CPE with all the makings for ice cream sundaes. The firm also hosted a virtual Christmas party with live music from a staff member, the Christmas story, a live ugly Christmas sweater competition, virtual Scattergories with cash prizes, and funny awards (think The Office’s Dundie Awards) created by our staff for our partners.

Need More Ideas?

If the ideas above are not enough to get your creativity going, take a look at these additional ideas.

  • Fancy Dress Fridays: Have your team dress in ridiculous outfits to make each other laugh during virtual meetings.
  • Meme Channels: Create a specific Slack channel for funny memes.
  • Exercise Challenges: Encourage staff to stay active with events like virtual relays, step challenges, or virtual yoga.
  • Pub Quizzes: Host a virtual trivia night that is coordinated by a different department each time.
  • Custom Crosswords: Create custom crossword puzzles that incorporate internal jokes and references.
  • Donut Meetings: Donut is an app on Slack that randomly pairs coworkers together and encourages them to set up a virtual coffee meeting to get to know each other better.
  • What’s for Lunch: Prompt employees to share their meals and inspire colleagues to eat well while cooped up by starting a daily thread or custom channel in Slack.
  • Tour a Museum: Take advantage of virtual tours from museums like the Smithsonian, the Louvre, or the Guggenheim.
  • Play Local Bingo: Pass out a bingo sheet that encourages employees to patronize local businesses. Give out gift cards from those local businesses to those who get a “bingo.”
  • Book Club: Set a reading list based on suggestions from your team aimed at achieving work goals (or even just their favorite books!), and meet virtually.

What are you Doing?

There are probably a million other ways we can celebrate our teams this year, and I am positive that other members of our AAM community have some great plans for this year. If you have hosted a successful virtual employee event or have some big plans for 2021, tell us on the AAM Forum!


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About Rachael McGrew

Rachael McGrew is the Business Development Director for Landmark CPAs, one of Arkansas’ largest accounting firms. In her role, she wears many hats, including overseeing the firm’s marketing and business development strategy, managing internal and external communications, maintaining the firm’s social media and web presence, planning and executing firm events and community outreach programs, assisting with M&A, coordinating recruiting campaigns, and serving on industry association committees. Within AAM, Rachael leads an AAM Circle focused on HubSpot. She is a graduate of the Leadership Fort Smith program and a 40 Under 40 honoree by both the Arkansas Business Journal and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. She is also a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas’ Western Council. Rachael holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing with a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Arkansas and a Technical Certificate in Graphic Design from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. She is married to an outgoing entrepreneur she’s known since junior high, and they have a witty teenager they follow around to volleyball practice and tournaments.

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