9 employee engagement ideas your team will love

Written by: the Officevibe Content Team
Published on April 18, 2017 | Reading time: 12m

Employee engagement is much simpler than you might think. Unfortunately, many 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 employee 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.

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

Here are 9 employee engagement ideas you can try with your team

  1. Help With Personal Growth
  2. Implement Continuous Feedback
  3. Make Work Fun
  4. Give Employees A Voice
  5. Promote Wellness
  6. Live Your Core Values
  7. Respect Your Employees
  8. Encourage Experimentation
  9. Build Relationships At Work

Free bonus: download our complete before, during, and after guide for the perfect 1-on-1!

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 might feel like they’re regressing.

Companies often fall into the trap of stifling creativity because they focus on what works instead of experimenting. They can become risk averse, sometimes missing out on opportunities.

Your employees have incredible ideas that are worth tapping into.

Another thing to keep in mind is that employees are often scared to ask for help, for fear of looking like they don’t know what they should know. Encourage your employees to ask questions and show curiosity, and remind them that you don’t have all the answers, either.

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 boost engagement because it builds 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 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.

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 it can be tough to get right. There are so many subtleties that can impact how your feedback is received, and how you receive feedback.

Working on your own communication can help improve feedback cycles on your team.

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 knowing what to do with it. Always try to come up with an action plan from the feedback you get, and follow up on it. Just as you can help your employees develop in their roles, they can help you to grow in yours, too.

Learn the five skills that will help you increase employee motivation on your team.

Cover - Emotional Intelligence course

Make Work Fun

There’s always a little room for fun at work. Implementing fun and play helps bring out creativity and innovation on your team.

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.

If people don’t feel safe to be themselves and have a little fun, they might hold back on sharing out-of-the-box ideas. Sometimes the silliest ideas can be refined into the most innovative ones.

Building relationships and a sense of belonging 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 it can really boost productivity to step away from the day-to-day sometimes. Aim for inclusivity and set time aside during work hours if you can. Some that have worked really well for us at Officevibe are board games, breakfasts, and an escape room.
  • Plan an event: To get everyone together outside of work hours, plan ahead for a company BBQ or a Lunch where you take a break as a team. This can be a great way to celebrate hitting a big milestone.

Give Employees A Voice

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 encourage this, but the most important thing is removing fear.

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

Practice active listening with your employees, and encourage them 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.
  • 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.
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Promote Wellness

We all want higher-performing teams, but overworking isn’t the answer.

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

stress stat from State of Engagement

You don’t want your employees to burnout. Exercising empathy and compassion, and being mindful of your employees’ workloads is essential to helping them maintain wellness and balance.

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.

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. Revisit values as your culture evolves to make sure they still make sense, and involve employees in creating them so they feel that connection to them.

employee engagement ideas to improve core values

Tips To Implement This Idea

  • Hire for culture add: Don’t just hire someone because of their skills and experience. Beyond their qualifications, as questions like: How will they contribute to your company’s mission, vision, and values? How can they bring new perspectives and ideas to your team’s day-to-day?
  • Connect things back to core values: You can never communicate too much. You should be connecting your core values to everything from business calls to how you give recognition. Making posters and t-shirts is a start, but consider how you can actualize values in the way work gets done.
  • 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.

Respect Your Employees

The basis of every relationship is respect, and the best way to build trust and safety with your employees is by showing them the respect you want back.

Your employees want to feel valued, appreciated, and respected. You hired them because you believed in their abilities and potential, so it’s important to follow through and give them the flexibility to show you what they’re made of.

employee engagement ideas to respect employees

Tips To Implement This Idea

  • Be flexible: Be flexible with working hours and location where you can. The most important thing is that people are getting their work done, and a change of environment or the flexibility to go to the gym in the morning or leave a little early to pick up your kids gives employees a motivation boost.
  • Encourage work-life balance: Employees need a life outside of work. Nothing impacts productivity like burnout, so be a good role model and practice work-life balance yourself. 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 too much and micromanaging.

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 to be open and honest about their failures.

This is easier said than done, 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 a learning opportunity. You want to encourage your employees to be creative and let them run with their ideas.

employee engagement ideas to encourage experimentation

Tips To Implement This Idea

  • Set clear goals: Setting clear goals and involving employees in the process will help make sure everyone is on the same page. Understand exactly what the criteria for success will be and offer to help in any way you can.
  • Celebrate failure: Be vulnerable and admit mistakes that you make to show them it’s okay. When plans fail, rally the team together to discuss where things went off, and how you could avoid this kind of mistake as you move forward. Remind your team that you win together, and you learn together.
  • 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.

Build Relationships At Work

Employees can’t feel like they’re alone at work. 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 creative with the way that you organize your team, maybe even create 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. Be mindful of the space being given and taken in meetings, and encourage people to speak up or wait their turn accordingly.

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: People can be shy at work, 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.

Before you leave, don’t forget…

Learn the five skills that will help you increase employee motivation on your team.

Cover - Emotional Intelligence course

Any Other Engagement Ideas To Suggest?

Let us know in the comments below!