Eight tips for an inspiring 2023 company kickoff

In the same way that new year’s resolutions help people get motivated and excited for the year ahead, a company-wide kickoff is a great way to galvanize your workforce around a vision for the coming year.

After all, every team needs a pep talk before getting on the field to win a game. So gathering everybody together for some words of encouragement and motivation is an effective, even necessary way to make sure people will approach their work in 2023 activated and unified. 

That’s why yearly company kickoffs are such an important tool.

Below, we’ve put together eight ideas for how to host a memorable, motivational kickoff for a kickin’ 2023.

Benefits of a great company kickoff

How often do you gather your entire company for a true sense of in-it-togetherness? A yearly company kick-off is an opportunity to create a unique experience and start your year off right.

First, it’s the perfect chance to bring your entire organization together for bonding and team-building. And chances are your workforce is hungry for this, as 43% of employees want to work in a place that promotes collaboration and team-building – prioritizing it above every other factor.

Additionally, company kickoffs are a perfect way to get your employees to buy into the team- and company-wide goals for 2023, motivating productivity and performance for the year ahead. With these goals in hand, they’ll be 3.6 times more likely to be committed to the organization, 6.7 times more likely to feel proud of their organization, and 6.5 times more likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work.

So if you want to enter 2023 feeling the power of a unified, motivated workforce, an effective company kickoff is essential.

Tips for crafting a memorable experience

Whether your workforce is remote, hybrid, or 100% in-person, all of these company kickoff ideas will unite your team for a fantastic year ahead!

1. Give your kickoff a theme

To build excitement about this particular year as unique and different from every other, we highly recommend giving your company kickoff a theme. This is a great way to keep things exciting and give employees something to get motivated about.

The theme you choose will be able to inform every element of your kickoff, from its name, to what people wear, to the activities you do and the decor you put up. 

For example, let’s say your kickoff theme for 2023 will be “Blasting Off to an Out-of-this-World 2023,” aka an outer space theme. You can use visual elements such as stars, planets, and rocket ships in your kickoff decor and presentations. You can start the kickoff by playing David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” as people stream into the room. Maybe you’ll even serve space-related foods like galaxy cupcakes and edible moon rocks. You get the idea.

Want some more inspiration for possible kickoff themes? Here are some favorites.

  • Journey to the top - a mountain climbing theme
  • Back to the Future - a time travel theme
  • Around the World in 80 Days - an international theme
  • All systems go - Rocket space theme

2. Hand out great kickoff swag

There's a reason that sports teams wear uniforms. The act of wearing matching clothing that represents your organization can foster a sense of teamwork and togetherness that helps people collaborate even more effectively.

Giving out matching branded swag during your kickoff can be a great way to get the participants on board with the team spirit. Whether it's wearables like t-shirts and caps or accessories like mugs and notebooks, your team will have fun showing-off their new gifts.

Thoughtful swag can be endearing, forming a physical connection between brand and people. Not only that - if you provide quality items for your employees that they will love wearing, it will become a common thread on virtual calls and office days, with team members proudly wearing their kick-off gifts all year. 

To make branded gifts for your entire workforce an easy, seamless experience, we've got your back with a curated selection of incredible products you can brand on demand for everyone at your organization. 

3. Have employee recognition on the agenda

A huge part of building excitement for the year ahead is taking a moment to recap and show appreciation for the year that just ended. Therefore, recognizing significant accomplishments from 2022 will not only help motivate employees to achieve in 2023, but will also serve as an important employee recognition gesture, a practice known for promoting everything from retention to engagement and happiness.

One way to include employee recognition in your 2023 kickoff is to host a mini awards ceremony in which you surprise employees with a public shout-out and perhaps even a reward for their achievements from the prior year with a special appreciation gift. This type of public recognition is especially memorable and meaningful and a great way to start your kickoff with warm, fuzzy feelings all around and motivate employees to be next in getting that kind of recognition. 

4. Make them part of the vision

Now it's on to one of the most important parts of your kickoff: building the vision for 2023. This is the time to communicate your company goals and organizational values for the new year and beyond. As one of the most critical parts of the company kickoff, it's important to really put in the extra effort to get everybody excited. Don't just present the goals, but show your workforce why the goals matter and why they should care. 

There are several ways that you can do this, including:

  • Sharing a message from a customer to show the impact of your business
  • Presenting facts and figures that tie goals to tangible business growth
  • Focusing on corporate social responsibility and how your work gives back to your community 
  • Allowing people to set their own personal goals that tie to larger organizational goals
  • Communicating everything with exciting, positive language to create a contagious sense of enthusiasm

5. Embrace interactive activities 

It's important that your company kickoff doesn't just feel like executives talking with the workforce. Get everybody involved by including activities in the kickoff agenda that get people up, moving, talking, and thinking.

There are so many different types of activities that you might choose to include in your kickoff depending on a variety of factors such as the kickoff theme, the size of your workforce, how long your kickoff is, whether your workforce is in-office, hybrid, or remote, and more. Think games, discussions, competitions, riddles, puzzles, improv exercises: let your creativity go wild!

Some ideas to get you started include:

  • Live polls - A great icebreaker for large groups of people and hybrid teams, this activity has people digitally submit their answers to a series of questions. After the answers are for each question, the results will be displayed on the screen for everybody to see. Questions can range from the silly ("Which do you prefer, cats or dogs?") to the more serious ("Choose a company value you want to work toward in 2023"). 
  • Breakout discussions - Split your employees up into discussion groups of 5 to 10 people in size. Give each group a 2023 goal to focus on. Have them get together to discuss the goal and come up with ideas for how to achieve it best. Afterward, have each group present what they came up with.
  • Now and then - As an individual activity, have everybody think about and name one thing they are proud of from 2022 and one thing they're excited about in 2023. Have volunteers present their results to the group.

6. Let speakers take the stage

Having your CEO or other high-level executives speak during the kickoff is an obvious (and effective!) choice. These leaders can build excitement and vision in a unique way. 

However, don't let these be the only people who present during your company kickoff. A highly effective way to keep things interesting and engaging is to bring in other, even unexpected, speakers to present something to the company.

There are a wide variety of speakers you might choose, including:

  • Motivational speakers - Want to make sure everybody walks away from the kickoff feeling maximum motivation? Bring in a speaker whose job is to motivate people.
  • Employees - Who says that only managers and leaders have something valuable to share with the company? Why not use the kickoff to spotlight individual contributors and give them an opportunity to present goals or discuss something important? Team members will enjoy seeing somebody they interact with every day up in front of the whole company, and feel motivated to potentially be the one chosen to speak at the kickoff next year.
  • Surprise celebrity cameos - With services like Cameo, it's easy to get somebody famous to record a personalized message for the company. Imagine how surprised or excited your employees will be when a video from somebody like Olympian Gabby Douglas or Motown legend Smokey Robinson pops up on the screen.
  • Customers - Nothing will get your employees more motivated than to see the impact of their day-to-day work directly. Having a customer share how your product or service has solved their problem or changed their life will be memorable and meaningful. 

7. Get creative with multimedia

To keep things as engaging as possible, resist the urge to have your entire kickoff be a series of Powerpoint presentations back to back. Instead, aim to engage as many senses as possible by using multiple different types of media for your presentations and activities. 

For example, you might:

  • Play music at the beginning and end of the kickoff and during any breaks
  • Use photo slideshows for a 2022 recap
  • Use a Powerpoint alternative like Prezi to create more visually engaging presentations
  • Play videos from guest speakers 

8. Finally, collect feedback

In order to use your 2023 kickoff as an opportunity to learn takeaways that will help you plan even better events throughout the year, don't forget to collect feedback from your employees about what they enjoyed and didn't enjoy about the experience. 

In addition to opening the floor multiple times during the kickoff for people to share their thoughts and ask their questions, we recommend sending a post-kickoff survey at the end of the kickoff or on the following day to let people give anonymous feedback. This way, you'll be sure you're hearing everybody's most candid, honest opinions.

And, of course, don't let these insights simply collect e-dust in a computer file somewhere. Make sure you really review the feedback - now and later. You might discover that people misunderstood something that needs correcting with a company-wide email to be sent immediately. And, of course, you'll also want to revisit this feedback toward the end of 2023 when you start planning next year's kickoff. 

Start 2023 off right with Snappy

Make this year one that leaves a lasting impression on your workforce, boosting engagement, excitement, and happiness from Q1 to Q4. 

In uncertain times, it's even more important to keep teams united, excited and motivated to push forward.  From kicking off the year with company swag that connects to never forgetting another employee's work anniversary, we can help you make everyone in your organization feel seen and remembered- from local employees to global teams. Showing employee appreciation with gifts can be as easy as signing up and getting started. 

Use Snappy's powerful dashboard to quickly set up your account, and breathe easy knowing we've got your back when it comes to employee swag and gifts from company kick offs, Employee Appreciation Day, holidays and everything in between. 

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