9 employee engagement ideas for your team

9 Employee Engagement Ideas Your Team Will Love

Employee engagement is much more simple and inexpensive than people make it out to be. Unfortunately, most companies still get it wrong.

Managers are busy, employees are afraid to speak up, and the culture ends up taking a hit.

They hear and read about the importance of engagement and all of its benefits to the company’s bottom line, but they simply don’t know where to start.

What employees really want is respect.

It’s really that simple.

Treat your employees the same way you would treat your own mother. That’s a very simple rule of thumb that you can use that will guarantee your employees are engaged.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help with simple, actionable ideas that you can use to motivate your team.

Free helpful bonus: The one employee engagement idea not on this list guaranteed to help you grow your business.

9 Simple Employee Engagement Ideas

Here are 9 employee engagement ideas that your team will appreciate, and tips on how you can easily implement them in your organization.

  1. Help With Personal Growth

    Personal growth is one of the most important aspects of employee engagement. Employees need to feel like they’re constantly growing and getting better at what they do.

    When they stop growing, stop being creative, stop challenging themselves, they become bored. Even worse, if they see their coworkers growing and they’re not, they feel like they’re regressing.

    “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” – Chinese Proverb

    Companies often fall into the trap of stifling creativity because they focus on what works instead of experimenting. They become risk averse when that’s not what employees want.

    Your employees have incredible ideas and they shouldn’t be stifled.

    It’s not fair to them.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that employees are often scared to ask for help, they think they’ll look like they don’t know what they should know. Even if they do work up the courage to ask you for help, it’s likely that you won’t have the time to dedicate to helping them.

    employee engagement ideas for personal growth

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Offer coaching: This is the hardest one to implement simply because of the lack of time, but this is so worth it. You can do this in groups, you can set time aside once a month for a “training session” on a subject you know that an employee wants to learn, or you can do something like frequent lunch and learns. This will lead to engagement because it will build up employees confidence.
    • Offer courses: You should be encouraging employees to take courses online to help them grow and get better. One important thing with this tip – don’t ask employees to pay for the course even if you’re willing to reimburse them. Set a budget aside for training (don’t worry, most courses are free) and keep offering to invest in your team.
    • Encourage development: Some of the biggest problems at work stem from a lack of communication. You should take the lead and encourage employees to grow and keep developing. It will make them feel like you genuinely care about their career.
  2. Implement Continuous Feedback

    Employees need feedback to know where they stand and how they’re doing.

    What that means for you is, because organizations are moving at such a fast pace, you need to be giving feedback at an even faster pace. You can’t wait for an annual review or a monthly one-on-one.

    You need to be giving employees feedback in as near real-time as possible.

    Sounds simple in theory, but in practice it’s more complex. Research from Zenger/Folkman found that the problem is that most managers hate giving feedback, but employees desperately want it. Remember, they want to grow and get better at what they do.

    negative employee feedback graphic

    But feedback is such a sensitive issue, and is quite hard to get right. There are so many subtleties that can make your feedback sound worse than it is or appear more negative than it really is.

    You need to work on your communication and learn from examples of how to give feedback.

    employee engagement ideas for continuous feedback

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Give feedback: Employees need to understand that feedback is okay. The biggest issue that exists with feedback is that it has such a negative connotation to it. Make employees understand that feedback is just there to help them grow and get better.
    • Collect feedback: As a leader, you should always be looking to improve and get better. Your number one job is to serve your employees, so you should be looking for ways to do that better. Hint: Ask them.
    • Act on feedback: One of the biggest problems with collecting feedback is that most of the time, managers don’t do anything with the feedback that was given to them. Not only is this insulting to employees, but it’s not fair to you. They have ideas that will help your whole organization grow, you might as well listen to them.
  3. Make Work Fun

    Work can’t be so monotonous, and so routined that there’s no fun. It’s discouraging to come to work at a place where you’re just working.

    While ambitious goals and getting your work done is important, you need to have some balance. The trick to making work “fun” is by removing the fear that exists in so many cultures.

    Employees need to know they can have fun and relax a little. Deadlines are good to set to motivate your team, but stuff happens, and life comes up, so if they’re missed, no need to stress.

    “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” – Douglas Adams

    At Officevibe, we have a tradition called “VINdredi”, which is a combination of “Vin” (wine in french) and “Vendredi” (Friday in French). Every Friday, at 3pm, we take a well-deserved break after a hard week to enjoy a glass of wine with each other and just connect.

    Building those relationships at work is so important for engagement.

    employee engagement ideas to have fun at work

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Have fun: Encourage fun at work, and most importantly, have fun yourself. Employees need to see you having some fun too to know that it’s okay if they cut loose too. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, something as simple as a team lunch can help break that routine.
    • Organize team building activities: These can be informal, but you should try to find ways to get the team to get together outside of work. This can be tough for people with outside commitments (kids, school, etc.) so it makes sense to organize a few different activities. Some that have worked really well for us at Officevibe are happy hours, karaoke nights, pancake breakfasts, and paintball.
    • Plan an event: You can try to find a way to give employees something to look forward to like a company BBQ or a company breakfast/lunch where you take a break as a team. This usually makes sense as a way to celebrate hitting a big milestone.
  4. Give Employees A Voice

    There’s so much fear that exists in most company cultures. Employees need to feel like they have a voice and are able to express what’s on their minds. There are a few ways to do this, but again, the trick here is to remove the fear.

    Let employees know that it’s okay to express themselves, and that they won’t get into trouble if they do.

    They have smart ideas, and they know how to improve your business, culture, and team.

    You need to listen to them, and give them a way to express themselves. There needs to be some follow up and accountability that the feedback they give you is actually taken into consideration.

    employee engagement ideas to give a voice to employees

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Have monthly one-on-ones: One-on-one meetings are your best tool to really get to know an employee and have that private session where they can express their concerns. This blog post about how to have better one-on-ones will help you (includes a helpful template)
    • Give frequent praise: Don’t make all of your feedback negative. It’s important to learn how to give frequent recognition to your employees when you see they’ve done something good. The key to this is simply being more mindful of what your employees are working on.
    • Do frequent surveys: Employees need to feel listened to. If you collect anonymous feedback from them, you’ll have much more data to work with to make your feedback effective. PS: Officevibe makes collecting feedback from your team seamless.
  5. Promote Wellness

    Employees are working way too hard. Managers want more productivity, but overworking isn’t the answer.

    Our research on employee engagement found that most employees are stressed out.

    stress stat from State of Engagement

    This is a huge problem.

    You don’t want your employees to burnout. We need to be more compassionate in our work. We need empathy to understand that sometimes, what we’re asking employees to do is simply unrealistic and unfair.

    employee engagement ideas to promote wellness

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Give gym passes: This is a surprisingly easy and cost-effective perk to offer. When employees are healthy, they take less sick days, and are more energized/productive at work. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
    • Offer healthy food: Fun fact: In an internal Officevibe survey about which perks employees enjoyed the most, healthy food in the kitchen was the number one answer. This is another simple and effective perk to show employees that you care about their wellbeing.
    • Encourage mindfulness: The benefits of mindfulness are absolutely incredible. If you encourage mindfulness at work, your employees will be happier, healthier, less stressed, and more productive. (Headspace is a great app for practicing mindfulness)
  6. Live Your Core Values

    First, it’s important to have values and a mission in the first place. Like Simon Sinek says, start with why:

    “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

    Once you have core values and a mission in place, it’s so important that you stay true to them. Everything you do (hiring, firing, onboarding, decisions, etc.) should be guided by those values.

    Way too often, companies slip away from their values over time. Employees will notice this and it will come back to hurt you.

    You need to stay true to your values, don’t try to fake it.

    employee engagement ideas to improve core values

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Hire for culture fit: Don’t just hire someone because you need to desperately fill a role, and don’t hire someone solely based on their skills (skills can be learned). You need to hire someone because they believe the same things as you (values).
    • Preach core values: You can never communicate too much. You should be preaching your core values over and over again, employees need to be reminded why they’re doing what they’re doing. Make posters, t-shirts, whatever you want, but make sure that the message is clear that these should be present in everything you do.
    • Optimize onboarding: Employee onboarding is one of the keys to engagement. If done well, you’re setting yourself up for a productive, engaged, powerful employee. If you don’t do it right, you’ll have a confused, insecure employee. Remember that onboarding takes time. Dedicate at least three months to it.
  7. Respect Your Employees

    At the core of employee engagement is respect. All employees really want is to feel like they matter and that they’re treated like adults.

    The fact that someone needs to get a doctor’s note if they go see a doctor means that you don’t trust your employees enough.

    The fact that someone has a set amount of vacation days and can get in trouble (or their pay docked) if they take more makes no sense. Life happens. What happens if someone’s kid is sick, are they supposed to leave their kid at home and go to work because they don’t want to get in trouble? That’s no way to live your life.

    You need to be more relaxed. If you trust someone enough to hire them and pay them, you should trust them enough to take an extra day off or a longer lunch if they want to. As long as they get their work done, who cares where and for how long they work?

    employee engagement ideas to respect employees

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Be flexible: Be a little flexible with them when it comes to things like working from home or showing up late. Their intentions are good. They shouldn’t feel unnecessary stress about something like working from home.
    • Encourage work-life balance: Employees need a life outside of work. You don’t want them burning out and it can’t always be about their work. Be a good role model for them and practice work-life balance yourself. And let employees know it’s okay for them to take time off if they need it.
    • Give employees autonomy: When you give employees the autonomy they deserve, you’re giving them the respect they deserve. Trust them enough to do the work without checking in on them over and over and micromanaging them.
  8. Encourage Experimentation

    “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson

    Employees need to know that it’s okay to make mistakes and it’s okay to try new things. They should feel comfortable making mistakes, and everyone should be open and honest about their failures.

    This is easier said than done though, because naturally most people want to look good in front of their coworkers and boss.

    As a leader, you need to make it clear as often as possible that mistakes are okay and failure is not an irreparable issue. You want to encourage your employees to be creative and let them run with their ideas.

    The more you stifle creativity, the less engaged they’ll be.

    employee engagement ideas to encourage experimentation

    Tips To Implement This Idea

    • Set clear goals: It’s important that you set clear goals with employees from the start to make sure everyone is on the same page. This helps avoid any disappointment down the line. Understand exactly what the criteria for success will be and offer to help in any way you can.
    • Celebrate failure: The best way to do this is to keep reminding employees that they won’t get in trouble for making any mistakes. Another idea is to be vulnerable and admit mistakes that you make to show them it’s okay.
    • Practice transparency: For the best ideas to occur, everyone needs to have all of the context possible, so be as transparent with your employees as you can be. Include them in the process and they’ll be more likely to be engaged.
  9. Build Relationships At Work

    Employees can’t feel like they’re alone at work. That loneliness and that feeling of being ignored is a powerful emotion for making someone disengage.

    Team building activities are great, but you need to also optimize how employees collaborate with each other.

    Does everyone have a voice in the process? Are the workflows as smooth as they could be? These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself and the team on a regular basis.

    You can get really creative with the way that you organize your team, and can create a bunch of mini teams to work on projects. You can either have them form on their own or you can work together with everyone to create them.

    Try your best to make everyone feel as included in decisions as others. It’s hurtful when employees are left out of the process.

    employee engagement ideas to build relationship at work

    • Involve everyone: This is more about being mindful than anything else. You should be aware that employees might be feeling left out. Try to include everyone as much as possible, explain things so that everyone understands and is on the same page.
    • Encourage collaboration: A great way to help build relationships at work and empower employees is to get them to work on projects together. One thing we often do at Officevibe is set a team goal for the week so that we can all contribute towards it. It gets us all working towards the same thing.
    • Tell people not to be shy: Most people at work are naturally shy, they don’t want to overstep and they’re not sure if they have the authority to speak up. You can help remove that fear by encouraging them to speak up without the fear of retribution.

Any Other Engagement Ideas To Suggest?

Let us know in the comments below!

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