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All Hands Meeting - What It Is and Why You (May) Want One

Maybe you’re a company of two; maybe you’re a company of thousands. Regardless of the size, All Hands meetings yield several immediate benefits for any organization that holds them.

If you’ve ever called into on a certain day, you might have gotten a voicemail message rather than the usual cheerful Zapponian. Don’t be alarmed, though! It’s because once a quarter, all of Zappos shuts down and every employee meets off-site for our quarterly All Hands meeting. Just the act of booking an All Hands meeting sends a powerful message: It says that it is important enough for everyone to attend, and for everyone to step away from work for a few hours to do so. All Hands meetings create a unique space for companies to accomplish many different things:

Clear communication and transparency: Scalability is one of the best reasons to have an All Hands meeting. Information is really easy to share when your entire company can fit in one room. But once that room starts bursting at the seams, keeping everyone on the same page can become a corporate version of the telephone game - which as we all know, is a great source for misinformation. The first few All Hands at Zappos were for large announcements; it was in 2010 when they began to evolve into quarterly meetings that had not only announcements, but speakers, as well. Today they are a balance of sharing information like financial updates, showcasing inspiring speakers, and connecting the company.

Talent outlet: All Hands meetings are an excellent chance for employees to showcase their talents, whether it’s performing in some way or using artistic skills to create collateral. For example, employees at Zappos who are passionate about singing and dancing regularly have opportunities to perform during All Hands. Companies that create avenues for employees to express themselves and share their talents often see higher retention rates with those employees.

Celebrate wins: Meetings can get a bad rap and are often the fall guy for bad news, boring news, and more boring news. Using an All Hands meeting to share wins as well as losses from across the company boosts morale and reminds everyone what’s working well.

Increased employee engagement: A change of scenery and happy hour never hurt anybody (that we know of, anyway). Creating an atmosphere that lets coworkers mingle and leave the meeting on a high note gives people something to look forward to and encourages interaction for employees and departments that may not see each other as much.

Visible leadership: Whether it’s addressing a challenge the company is facing, reporting successes, or just touching base, any message from leadership is more powerful when delivered in person as opposed to an email.

To inspire: Overall, an All Hands meeting’s biggest opportunity lies in encouraging and inspiring the company. It offers a place to introduce new ideas, refocus on common goals and learn from each other in ways that last long after the meeting is over.