Almost half of CEOs see internal events as a cost rather than an investment, according to the directors that work for them. That’s one of the key findings of new research amongst event managers and directors at FTSE 250 organisations and UK multinationals.

Research from INVOLVE, the communications agency, finds that internal events are used to influence ‘business critical’ measures, such as employee engagement (84%) and revenue/profit (81%). However, directors believe that only half of CEOs (51%) see internal events as an investment compared to almost two thirds of employees (67%).

CEO’s in low spend organisations (those that spend between £100,000 to £250,000 a year on internal events, as defined by respondents) see events as more of an investment than those in high spend organisations (with spend of £250,000 to £1 million a year.)

Although events are used to influence ‘business critical’ measures, corporates are not consistently measuring whether they are achieving goals. Only 54% of directors claim to measure the ROI extremely or very robustly. However, event managers claim to measure ROI more with 62% saying they do so extremely or very robustly. Not surprisingly perhaps, those with larger spend claim to be better at evaluation (61% as opposed to 46%).

Most companies opt for conventional evaluation methods, often focused on collating feedback. 73% of companies use post-event delegate surveys; 46% use direct feedback and 31% use ‘happy sheets’ on the day. Event managers collect much more direct feedback than their bosses, 61% compared to 46%.

Jeremy Starling, Managing Director of INVOLVE, says: “There is a clear disconnect between the CEO’s view of internal events and the views of the rest of the company.”

“A prime cause of this has to be a lack of proof that internal events are delivering long-term behavioural change or hitting other indicators of success. The long-term growth of this industry depends on securing buy-in from CEOs across the board. Using robust measurements to track ROI is vital to determine whether internal events are truly effective and successfully delivering against an organisation’s ‘business critical’ goals.”

Commening on the report’s findings, Mike Merit, VP, Customer Success at webcaster Kontiki observered, not surprisingly perhaps, that those with larger spend claim to be better at evaluation (61% as opposed to 46%).  Mike has seen this with Kontiki’s Enterprise Customers, explaining:

“Those customers that have an effective evaluation process for events are able to mature their program over time . Over time they are able to crack to code for employee engagement at events, which naturally leads more executives to want to do live events.  One customer of ours that does hundreds of events a year uses realtime polling to get feedback while the event is in progress. Right after the event the event producers and executives huddle to review the feedback.  Everyone is immediately on the same page on the success of the event and what needs to improve”

Down load the full report from the Involve website.

Click the image to enlarge.

Click the image to enlarge.