Meeting Mentor Magazine

March 2024

How Events Can Fuel Success in Today’s Shifting Business Climate

A recent report by McKinsey & Company identifies organizational trends that are shifting the way business is done today. Here are some ways meetings and events can help organizations ride seven of those trends to future success.

When McKinsey & Company spots business trends, it pays to listen. In a new report, “The State of Organizations 2023: Ten Shifts Transforming Organizations,” the global consulting firm identifies 10 trends that go beyond the short-term challenges we face today — geopolitical conflict, economic instability and linger pandemic after-effects. Instead, the firm focused on how organizations need to change up their structures, processes, and people to reinforce resilience, manage the tight-rope walk of balancing in-person and remote work, support employees in their mental health, and become nimble enough to manage the increasing rate of technological change.

Of the more-than 2,500 business leaders the researchers surveyed globally, just half felt ready for whatever external shocks may come next. Two-thirds said their organizations were too complex and inefficient. But all that can — and must — change if organizations are to succeed in an increasingly volatile future.

What are those organizational shifts McKinsey identified as the most important to make now, both to meet today’s challenges and to be poised to take advantage of future opportunities? And what role can meetings and events play in supporting those shifts? Read on.

1. Prepare to respond faster and be more resilient. With half of those surveyed saying their organization isn’t ready to respond to future shocks, organizations need to make continuous learning a staple of their culture, as well as empower employees to act on their own and teach leaders how to manage their teams through transitional times of change.

How events can help: Continuous learning is at the core of an organization’s meetings program, be it online learning or, preferably in-person events where peers can learn from the provided materials, each other and leadership. Leaders also can use these meetings and educational events to reinforce autonomy and decision-making skills among their team members, perhaps even including role-play on how employees could be empowered in different scenarios to resolve issues on their own. Leaders also must take part in that continuous learning, especially cross-functional events where leaders from across the organization come together to exchange best practices on leading through challenging times past, present and likely to occur in the future.

2. Achieve a productive hybrid/in-person work model. With about 90% of organizations embracing at least some level of hybrid work post-pandemic, the need to both determine what needs to be done on site, what can best be done remotely, and how the organization can support employees in both remote and in-person work, is paramount.

How events can help: As most organizations found during the pandemic-induced crash course in the remote work model, it’s vital to support remote workers just as strongly as they did in-person employees. Now that some are back in the office, a key challenge is to ensure that remote workers aren’t out of mind just because they’re out of sight. In-person meetings and events are one sure-fire way to ensure that a hybrid team remains a team, wherever they work — that they understand the role of each team member, understand how to support each other, and keep communication channels open

3. Take advantage of applied AI. Artificial intelligence is already being used to improve workflows and processes, as well as speed up data-based structural changes.

How events can help: Not only can events help employees understand how and why an organization is using AI in its business practices, meeting and event planning itself can serve as a model on how AI can benefit a business by automating certain aspects of its workload, say by generating event marketing timelines and materials. Organizations also can use events to reinforce the limitations of the technology, including retaining human oversight to ensure whatever the AI produces is clear, accurate, appropriate, and in tune with the organization’s culture and brand.

4. Close the gap between what workers want and what organizations need. With almost 40% of respondents saying they plan to leave their jobs in the next three-to-six months, the need to ensure their employees have the talents needed to fulfill the highest value roles. In many organizations, up to 30% of critical roles aren’t filled by the most appropriate people, according to McKinsey research. And, of course, it’s vital to retain those employees, especially when the research shows that the highest performers in a role are 800% more productive than average performers in those same roles. On a related note, just one-quarter of respondents said their organizations’ leaders are engaged, passionate, and inspiring.

How events can help: Perhaps it’s time to rethink the traditional job fair to better ferret out those who have the skills and experience organizations need now. Participating in industry-wide events for their specific industry also is a good way to find and have meaningful conversations with the next generation of potential new hires. Incentives have a long track record of not just rewarding key employees, but also keeping them from straying to potentially greener pastures. In addition, the survey found that human-centered leadership — acting as a role model, presenting a compelling vision of the future, and spending time developing people — is a top trend. Where else better to showcase human-centered leadership than having leaders present throughout an in-person event, meeting with individuals and small groups?

5. Close the capability chasm. This is similar to the previous trend, only add processes and technology to the need for having — and keeping — the right people in place.

How events can help: With just 5% saying they already have all the capabilities they need, there clearly is a lack of communication between those who are suffering from the deficits of integrated processes, technology and people today’s organizations need. Meetings between the leaders in the various segments of the organization can help get everyone on the same page when it comes to rectifying the insufficient resources available to make the needed changes happen, as well as reinforce the need for a consistent commitment across the organization to plugging the gaps in core activities that currently exist.

6. Get serious about DEI. Diversity, equity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s the right thing to do for their business. However, while more than 70% of respondents said that their organization had DEI aspirations, less than half have the infrastructure needed to make those aspirations a reality.

How events can help: Meeting and event planners can showcase DEI in action by ensuring that their events are inclusive and welcoming to all, from the vendors they hire and the speakers they invite to the topics explored and a physical environment that accommodates all physical and neuro-diverse needs.

7. Invest in mental health. The toll the pandemic took on everyone’s mental health is in the news daily, so it’s no surprise that this is another key trend organizations need to get a handle on to reduce attrition and absenteeism and improve engagement and productivity. However, while 90% of organizations surveyed said they offered some type of wellbeing program, the problems persist, indicating those programs aren’t quite cutting it.

How events can help. As with DEI, meetings and events can show, not tell, how mental health and wellness can be incorporated into even the most hectic of environments. While this may not be a fix for systemic lapses in understanding the root causes of mental and other well-being challenges, just as it isn’t a fix for systemic lacks in addressing DEI challenges, it could provide a model, as well as education around the issues, to bring the need to the forefront and model potential solutions.

Download the full report here.


Free Subscription to
MeetingMentor Online


About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

Design by: Loewy Design