CASE STUDY: Helping the Indiana CPA Society Host a Virtual Team Building Activity That Even the Most “Zoom Fatigued” Guests Would Love
The Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) was looking for a fun and engaging virtual team building activity for its staff, volunteers, and Young Pros Leadership Academy members. The challenge was that, after nine months of virtual events, they were feeling some “Zoom fatigue.” So, we helped them find an activity that even the most virtual event-weary attendees would love.
THE CHALLENGE – Find a way to take the Indiana CPA Society’s annual team events online without sacrificing fun or engagement in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Host engaging events for INCPAS volunteers and staff as well as its Young Pros Leadership Academy
- Find a way to make a virtual activity fun and engaging for participants who were feeling “Zoom fatigue” after nine months of online events
- Increase virtual event attendance numbers that had been slumping in recent months
The Indiana CPA Society is the go-to resource for the state’s certified public accountants. The organization supports CPAs with everything from continuing education to networking events and even advocacy or potential legislation issues that could affect them.
Suffice it to say, this is an important and high-pressure job for INCPAS’ staff and volunteers and an equally important resource for its members and young pros.
And that’s why the organization and its Social Committee frequently host fun social events to help staff and volunteers unwind.
“In my role, I really focus on our volunteers,” explains Jenna Whelan, Volunteer and Member Services Associate. “I help place volunteers onto committees and then work with our volunteers and their liaisons to make sure it’s good fit and everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to. I also really focus on the members of our Young Pros Leadership Academy.”
She continues, “That’s my main role, but I’m also a member of our Social Committee which oversees planning fun events for staff to do throughout the year.”
And as the time approached for one of INCPAS’ annual Thanksgiving event, Jenna and the Social Committee got underway planning a modified, pandemic-friendly event.
“Every year around Thanksgiving, we always have a breakfast that everyone looks forward to,” explains Jenna. “And obviously we couldn’t do that this year because of the pandemic. Everyone was kind of bummed about that, but the Social Committee still wanted to do something fun and different.”
She adds, “Since we weren’t covering the cost of food this year, we had a bit more budget to allocate towards finding a company that could help us make this year’s event even more fun and engaging.”
But Jenna and the Social Committee also had to get creative in their approach, given the circumstances.
“At that point, it had been close to nine months of having to do virtual events,” she admits. “We were hearing from so many people that they were experiencing ‘Zoom fatigue’. And we saw that, even in our continuing education events, we were getting lower registration numbers just because people were burnt out a bit. So, we had to find something that would be fun and engaging enough to get high number of registrations again.”
And with that in mind, Jenna set out to find a team building partner to help host this year’s event.
“I started Googling virtual game companies,” explains Jenna. “I pulled up quite a few pages and different companies. Outback seemed to be the most flexible to work with. It seemed like you’d be able to work with our budget and you had a good number of options to choose from.”
So, Jenna reached out to Outback and was quickly connected with her Employee Engagement Consultant. Together, they immediately began the process of selecting an activity that would appeal to INCPAS staff and volunteers.
“My Employee Engagement Consultant and I worked collaboratively to find the perfect event,” says Jenna. “She mentioned that Virtual Code Break is a good option for groups of people who are analytical. She mentioned that it was a really popular option with other CPAs of financial banking folks. So, that’s what we went with.”
She adds, “We ended up going with a self-hosted format, partly because of budget but mostly because we’re so used to hosting our own events already.”
And despite some trepidation in the beginning, Jenna quickly became completely comfortable with the self-hosted concept.
She elaborates, “At first, I was a little worried about doing a self-hosted activity versus having Outback host it for us. But then, once I watched the videos on your website of self-hosted team building activities in action, that really made me more comfortable. It seemed super easy.”
THE SOLUTION – A Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break team building activity that INCPAS staff loved so much, the organization decided to host a second event for its Young Pros and volunteers.
- A Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break team building activity that was fun and engaging for “Zoom-fatigued” participants
- The perfect activity for building bonds between colleagues
Once INCPAS’ Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break got underway, Jenna quickly realized they’d made the right choice.
“The event was a lot of fun,” says Jenna. “At first, we thought the activity was really easy because people were flying through the questions. But then we realized that some questions almost tricked us! They got progressively harder. It gave us this false sense of comfort and then suddenly it just got more and more challenging. It was also fun seeing the strategy of some groups in deciding which questions to answer in what order since they’re all worth different amounts of points.”
The team also had the chance to regroup and discuss the challenges and responses together.
“It was great getting to reconnect as a team,” explains Jenna. “Once the event was finished and we had found out who won, it was fun getting to discuss the questions with all the groups. There were some challenges that none of the groups got right and we’d talk through those. And there were challenges where everyone got the same answers, but we’d realized they’d all arrived at those answers in completely different ways, and we’d talk about that too. I felt like that added onto the bonding.”
When all was said and done, Jenna and her team loved their Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break so much, they hosted another one just a month later for their Young Pros.
“Our staff enjoyed the Virtual Code Break so much, we decided our young pros would probably love it too,” says Jenna. “We host lots of networking events for them, but we had already done trivia a few times and we thought this would be a great new option.”
She adds, “As it turns out, they loved it too!”
THE RESULTS – Both of INCPAS’ virtual team building events went off without a hitch and were well-received by both volunteers and staff as well as the organization’s Young Pros.
- INCPAS’ first Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break was so successful that the organization enlisted a second one a month later
- Registration numbers for the virtual events that were back to all-time highs
- 10/10 feedback from the INCPAS team
For INCPAS’ Social Committee, the pressure to put on an event that everyone will enjoy is something that’s always on their mind when planning out activities. And their Self-Hosted Virtual Code Break lived up to their hopes.
“We were focused on team bonding, of course,” says Jenna. “But I would say the underlying goal is always to make sure it’s something fun, especially when it comes to our activities with members. Our events need to be fun and engaging for people to want to participate in them. And this one fit that criteria!”
And there was even a notable uptick in registrations.
“At this event, registrations went back up,” says Jenna. “They were similar to the number of registrations we had for the first virtual event we did, before people’s Zoom fatigue kicked in. So, I’d say that’s how I measured the success for our members. We had a bit of a resurgence, a little uptick again.”
Jenna walked away from the event feeling like it had been a success and had some kind words for our team.
“I would definitely work with Outback again,” says Jenna. “You guys have so much to offer, you’re easy to work with, you can work within our budget, and it saves me from having to go through stress and drama of finding a new partner and hoping they’re good. Outback gives you tons of options and flexibility and can match whatever your budget is, whatever your goals may be, and whatever the interests of your group are.”