Your boss tells you to pull together a company-wide meeting. Now what? Don’t be overwhelmed; the all-hands company meeting is a great opportunity to communicate goals, build culture, and address issues. Read on to learn more about its benefits, frequency, and how to plan and facilitate one.

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What Is an All-Hands Company Meeting?

An all-hands meeting is a gathering of every employee in the company so the leadership of the company can address the entire workforce. These meetings are held in person and/or virtually, depending on circumstances.

Benefits of a Regular All-Hands Meeting

Holding regular all-hands meetings has several benefits for the organization.

  • Celebrate employee success. Celebrating the success of employees will catch the interest of your workforce more than company updates, and have a lasting impact on motivating each employee.
  • State of the business. Leadership can provide insight into the progress of the organization, organization strategy, and future goals.
  • Amplify the employee voice. An all-hands meeting is the perfect opportunity to allow employees to ask questions and make comments. How leadership responds to employees reveals how they value them.
  • Strengthen company culture. Leaders are able to correlate employee and organizational success to company values. This correlation strengthens culture because it makes it easier for employees to connect their actions with company values.
  • Engage virtual employees. Utilizing technology platforms that allow employees to engage with the meeting and with each other creates a team environment and helps eliminate the feeling of isolation virtual/remote employees may experience.

When to Hold All-Hands Meetings

All-hands meetings provide great benefits to the organization but do require time and effort to coordinate. How often you hold all-hands meetings depends on your company size or circumstance.

Emergencies or As Needed

Larger companies may not need to meet as often due to the existing communication channels that effectively distribute information to every employee. Therefore, an all-hands meeting is only needed for major announcements or emergencies that may arise.

Regularly Scheduled

Whether quarterly or annually, medium-sized companies may benefit from a regularly scheduled all-hands meeting to talk about past performance and future goals.

Increased Frequency

Small companies can help establish consistent growth with frequent all-hands meetings to ensure transparent communication and ensure everyone understands the impact their position has on the future of the company.

How to Organize and Conduct an All-Hands Meeting

An all-hands company meeting can be daunting to organize. The five steps below will put you on a path to create a positive experience for everyone.

Step 1: Clarity of Purpose

What is the mission or purpose for your all-hands meeting? Once determined, make sure each item on the agenda contributes to that purpose.

Step 2: Preparation

Set the date and time for the meeting after conferring with other managers to be certain it doesn’t conflict with other meetings. Meet with speakers to confirm what will be discussed and how much time they will need. Receive their slide deck or visual aids in advance.

Step 3: Planned Q&A

Consider collecting employee questions ahead of time so leaders have time to formulate a thoughtful answer. Also, there may be some questions or comments from employees that are personal or are better addressed in a one-on-one setting. If you know them ahead of time, you can direct that employee to the subject matter expert who can provide the needed support.

Step 4: Technology Needs

Whether you are using a third-party platform or leveraging the expertise of your IT Department, get all the hardware ready to go. This allows you to plug it in and go the day of the all-hands.

Step 5: Practice Run

If you hold all-hands annually or every six months, it is useful to practice the day before with everyone involved. This allows you to work out the logistics of transitioning between segments and resolve any technical issues.

Tips and Best Practices for Running a Successful All-Hands

Elevate your current all-hands meetings with the following tips and best practices.

Don’t Avoid Tough Subjects

Candor from leaders when asked about a tough subject can build a deep connection with employees that in turn builds an employee’s loyalty with the organization. Don’t shy away from tough subjects. Prepare the speakers ahead of time if there are concerns about current events in the workplace or in their community.

Start and End on Time

Being punctual respects your employees’ time and models appropriate behavior.

Short Hackathon

You can include a short hackathon in small groups, giving them a prompt to come up with new ideas. Examples for prompts include: create a mission statement for their department, or what benefit they would like to see the company offer in the future.

Let Them Fidget

Avoid the yawns or the glazed-eye stare by supplying fidget spinners, silly putty, and other small items to keep their attention. This allows them to channel their energy and not get lost in thought about where they plan to go for lunch.

Switch Up the Speakers

Executives and HR don’t always have to run these meetings or speak at them. Is there a manager or employee who helps people feel valued and validated? Let them speak at the all-hands or even run the meeting (with HR ready to support at any moment). HR should lead the preparation for the meeting and strive for each speaker to have a positive experience.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About All-Hands Company Meetings

It comes from when a ship captain calls for “All hands on deck.” Everyone onboard must report to the deck to listen and receive instruction.
As long as virtual/remote employees are consistently included in the planning process for the all-hands meeting, they are not held too frequently, and the meeting is facilitated in a professional manner, there are no disadvantages to holding all-hands company meetings.
Ryan Archibald
Ryan Archibald

Ryan is an HR Director with four years of experience and three masters degrees. One accomplishment he is proud of is the design and launch of a learning and development program for 800+ employees.

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