An all-staff marketplace is a good way for organisations to demonstrate to their own staff the breadth of work they do. It is an opportunity to meet colleagues, to learn what they do in particular, to find new job opportunities and have time away from one’s day to day work.
Keep the event to an hour or at most 90 minutes, and give people organising a stall a month’s notice to prepare. After all, they need to fit this around their day job. You also need to give staff enough notice of the event, advertising where it is, when it is, who should attend and why it is in their interest to attend.
If space allows, divide the space into zones, such as operations, policy, networks, career development.
Offer a creative zone off to the side, where people can let their hair down. Examples include laughter yoga, bocce ball game, story time.
Give teams a table, a board or a space and let them design their own display. They know what’s important to them.
‘Ask me about …. ‘ or ‘Tell me about ….’ badges
Get everyone attending to wear a badge – a sticky label. They should fill in the the wording. Have some ready-made topics on badges, such as Ask me about my profession, Ask my about my corporate contribution or Tell me about your role, Tell me about your team.
‘Tell me about everything’ is not helpful unless you are the chief executive, in which case, it’s cool.
Create a passport which contains a map of the marketplace (visible in the photo above). Hand one to each attendee. When they visit a stall, the stall holder can stamp the passport using a rubber stamp and ink pad. The challenge is to obtain as many stamps in the passport as possible. No prizes, just good old-fashioned competition and a way to get people to visit a range of stalls.
If the event is taking place in the workplace, get one of the teams to make up and dish out a non-alcoholic punch. You’d be surprised how much fun it generates when you add some strawberries, mint leaves and ice to juice. This team becomes very popular and they meet so many people as they queue to be served.
Signs of a good event
You know you have a good event on your hands if it is well attended, there is lots of talking going on and you can feel the energy in the room. A noisy crowded event won’t suit everyone’s temperament but if you have provided sufficient variety of content and a space for quiet too, then you have made a good effort. You know you are on to a winner if years later people still talk about it as a highlight.