This article explains why digital company meetings are an important tool for in-house communication, what you need to be aware of, and how to engage employees with live streams.
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Digital company meeting: Important for in-house communication
With a well-structured digital meeting, you can promote dialog among each other as well as increase motivation. The most significant thing is to create a good experience for all participants. So you can create a company culture of trust and transparency. In general, there are three aspects you should consider before you start with a digital company meeting.
First, it is recommendable to be attentive to all questions and comments at all times. Paying attention to each other and giving the voice to employees is very essential. Second, a digital company meeting is designed to ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed of current events. It is a good tool for in-house communication processes. And third, in times of digitalization it is more important than ever to feel connected – especially also virtually.
Usually a digital company meeting takes place once a quarter, but it is possible of planning it in shorter or longer timing periods.
How to engage
It is helpful to ask all participants if they would rather have a presentation or if they would like to ask questions themselves. Of course, both can be combined. When giving presentations, make sure that they have interactive parts. A pure lecturing often is not very useful.
The content and visual structure of a digital company meeting should be well planned. The agenda and the design are essential elements. They should appeal, inspire and inform at the same time. Our recommendation for an effective structure: plan a digital company meeting in three steps – beginning (intro), middle (with presentation), ending (with Q&A). This would be the easiest structure. Of course, you can plan this different.
Remember that you should have enough time for each speaker and topic. But: also plan with time limits. That is important because employees otherwise might get distracted and be less concentrated if a presentation is too long.
Think about strategies to keep everyone engaged during the meeting. For example, interactive digital tools – including a poll, a quiz, or a game – can help. Here you have two tool tips: Pigeonhole Live, AhaSlides. You can find a lot more tools like this if you search on the internet.
First, it is necessary to send at least one invitation form, for example via email. Make sure that you communicate all information about the upcoming meeting. Including how to take part with a link or login, what to consider before taking part on both technical and agenda side.
You can also send this information again as a reminder shortly before the meeting. Be aware that you check your own technology, which includes your computer, the internet connection, intranet availability and/or web applications.
It is also recommendable to send a follow-up after the digital company meeting and ask for feedback or even a rating. With information from that, it is possible to improve the meeting step by step.
What to know about digital company meetings in Germany
Since July 1, 2021, works meetings held under the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG) must once again be carried out in presence. Digital execution is not legally permitted within this context. Some works councils have been criticizing this because they had to organize Corona-compliant face-to-face meetings back then.
But there are still possibilities for using the potential of a digital works meeting. For example, management can use this tool as part of internal corporate communications to provide information about current developments and to enter into dialog with employees.
Especially nowadays, when home office is a benefit in many companies, this digital channel is a good option to reach everyone. This format is also suitable for companies with different locations.
In fact, it should also be mentioned at this point that the federal countries in Germany regulate the terms “meeting” or “event” differently. This means that if works councils, for example, simply want to schedule a “general meeting” to conduct internal corporate communications, this could certainly be done in a virtual room. And the HR department can of course also organize a digital meeting, for example on the intranet.
No juridical decisions, but communication is possible
The only point to be aware of is that no legally valid decisions can be made at this form of digital company meeting. The event takes place beyond the company’s co-determinations. The digital (employee) meeting or event is only for the purpose of simply sharing information and engaging in dialog between works councils and employees in the company. Are there changes in personnel? Or does the company want to inform about internal new projects? The possible topics for a meeting are summarized here in an overview (German language), some of which can also be discussed digitally.
What to consider
For the format of the digital works meeting, a live stream on the intranet is usually the best option. Many companies already have a good infrastructure for reaching all employees and announcing the meeting. For example, with Contentflow’s partner Haiilo, people can be reached at all locations and also mobile on their smartphone. Through the Contentflow plugin, livestreams can be created there very easily. In the past, Contentflow was asked to accompany many internal meetings, for example at Obi, Gema or Sennheiser. Here, it became clear again and again how important the professional production of the livestream is. The feedback channel, for example in the shape of a chat or a commentary feature, should also always be included in the process.
Difference between meeting, event and session
It quickly becomes clear that the terms “assembly”, “event” and “meeting” are somewhat difficult to separate. However, as long as no one violates the legal basis in effect, there is no reason to be concerned. If works councils are not sure about the legal regulations, they should seek legal advice.
Two amendments should be mentioned here that provided a certain degree of planning security in the digital space and also pushed digitization forward in Germany:
- The German parliament had already extended the legal framework for virtual shareholders’ meetings until 08/2022 at the earliest (German language).
- Another new aspect was that a digital works council meeting is now still possible virtually if certain conditions are given. This has been set out in Section 30 of the Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG). (German language)
However, since the special regulation introduced in the meantime, which was governed by Section 129 of the Works Council Constitution Act (BetrVG), has been removed, point 2 does not apply to digital works meetings.
Note: This article is no legal advice. It merely provides an overview of the current regulations, which may change again at any time. [As of: 10.11.2021]
Are you planning a digital company meeting and looking for an experienced partner? Get in touch with us here.