10 effective employee engagement ideas for your employees

Written by: the Officevibe Content Team | Illustrated by: Raff Labrie
Updated on: Published on: August 13, 2020 |  Reading time: 10m

The best managers out there know that to get the most hard work and productivity out of their employees, they need to find ways to keep them actively engaged. But this is not always easy, especially during times of change like our collective shift to remote work.

The #1 thing to remember is that employees need to enjoy what they do and who they do it with. We survey thousands of employees on a weekly basis to understand how they feel about their work, and uncovered that:

84% of employees enjoy what they do, yet 21% of employees are not happy at work.

You can ask your team the same questions using our simple Pulse Survey software.

There are many creative ways to engage employees so we put together our top 10 to help you get started.

The importance of employee engagement initiatives

Now more than ever, employee engagement is important to track and improve. Keeping your employees engaged will improve morale, motivation, and productivity, but the importance of employee engagement activities is amplified by the new normal.

With the shift to remote work, it’s harder for managers to have a pulse of what’s happening on their team.

Remote employee engagement is more important than ever and continues to be a challenge for team leaders. Because of the reduced number of contacts with your employees, engagement problems might take longer to surface.

To help you make the best out of every interaction with your employees, we put together 10 ideas to improve employee engagement whether you are in a remote or in-person work environment.

10 effective employee engagement ideas for your employees

1. Be more intentional about relationship-building 

One of the biggest keys to combating isolation and increasing engagement is obvious but often overlooked: having close relationships at work.” – Gallup

Modern workers want more than just a pay check. They want meaningful connections, to both their work, their company culture, and the people they work with. Especially when the physical barrier of remote work gets in the way of team building, managers need to get more deliberate about ensuring that workplace connections stay strong.

Try this: Schedule recurring Monday morning team check-ins for everyone to share the highlight of their weekends. Or, consider holding an hour every week and designating a different employee to lead some kind of (virtual) experience for your team, like team trivia with tools like Kahoot. These moments of connection

2. Mind your micromanaging

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

One of the most crucial employee engagement ideas to remember regards your own behaviour. Don’t micromanage! By giving your team autonomy in their work, you let them know that you trust their skills and abilities. Nothing kills your employee engagement and motivation quicker than micromanagement. After all, modern workers want a coach to help them develop, not a boss to tell them what to do.It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.

Try this: You might have a greater tendency to micromanage remote workers because having accurate visibility becomes harder. Instead, schedule weekly touch points on both a team and individual level so employees except a discussion around their work. Rather than reaching out ad hoc to “check in” and disturb their flow.

3. Offer regular employee feedback (even critical)

One way for managers to boost employee engagement is by offering meaningful feedback. Employees crave feedback because ultimately it gives them the chance to grow, yet according to what employees tell their managers in our Offievibe employee engagement tool:

28% of employees report that feedback is not frequent enough to help them understand how to improve

While we know that employees want more feedback, we also know that they want to receive it in a respectful way, especially when it’s critical. This means brushing up on your feedback skills to ensure that your point is getting across in a way that is productive and motivating.

Here’s a quick example:

Instead of saying: I reviewed your strategy and I am disappointed in the direction.

Say this: I read your strategy and while it’s off to a good start, I would like to brainstorm together on ideas that can take it to the next level. I felt it was missing a few things and I would like to help you uncover your blindspots.

Read this: This feedback guide will equip you with all the tools you need to make feedback a regular part of your management practice, even from afar.

4. Be sure goals and expectations are crystal clear

This employee engagement strategy is one that directly relates to productivity and team performance.

Clarity around what you expect for your people is a non-negotiable if you want your team to succeed. Aside for the generic job description that tells your hires to “manage social media accounts”, for example, what are the measurable milestones and goals you expect the to reach? For example, “increase our subscriber list by 10% by the end of Q1” and “answer all messages within a 24-hour time period” are clear expectations linked to larger responsibility.

83% of employees who use Officevibe feel that they know what to do to meet their goals and objectives.

Employees crave this clarity and direction. It’s a roadmap to success and without it, employees may focus on the wrong things.

Screenshot of the Goal setting in the Officevibe app

To set proper goals remotely, it takes more than a conversation. Managers need structure, a place to record goals, and a process to track progress properly.

🌟 Sign up to Officevibe for free

5. Keep a pulse on stress and employee wellness

According to our data representing the global employee voice:

47% of employees are feeling overwhelmed at work

This means nearly half of employees in the workforce are giving their managers the feedback that they are stressed, burning out or unable prioritize work life balance. This information is crucial for managers to keep an eye on. It’s an imminent sign of disengaged employees and potential turnover.

You won’t reach your goals if your performers can’t perform.

According to McKinsey, organizations that prioritize elements of the employee experience like health and safety are likely to see teams that are “four times more engaged and six times times more likely to report a positive state of well-being.” 

To promote a company culture of employee wellness, lead by example. This means not reaching out after work hours to demonstrate the importance of disconnecting. This can mean authentically asking them how they’re doing during 1-on-1s. It can also come in the form of weekly employee surveys like Officevibe that allow employees to share their concerns and stress levels anonymously.

Tip: Measure stress levels on your team along with 9 crucial other elements of employee engagement. Sign up free for Officevibe!

6. Encourage diversity of thought and perspective

When people can show up to work authentically and share their unique perspectives with ease, magic happens. Teams that are inclusive and safe are teams that innovate!

Currently, however,

20% of employees who have ideas to share, do not share them with their organization. (Officevibe employee engagement solution)

There is more managers can do to encourage teams to challenge the norm and bring their respective thoughts forward. When people can speak their minds, they are more likely to connect with the work they do, ultimately leading to engagement.

How to put this into action:

  • Host a brainstorming session dedicated to “out-of-the-box” ideas
  • Outline in your team’s values that “there are no bad ideas or stupid questions”
  • Lead by example by actively seeking out new perspectives on your own work.
  • During team conflict, encourage employees to take the perspective of other employees.

7. Ask for feedback on your management, and act on it

Did you know that managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement? This means that no matter how connected employees are to their job or the company culture, their manager has the greatest impact on the employee experience.

One of the best ways to figure out how they feel about your management and where you need to improve is to ask them for feedback. Everything from how they feel about the frequency of recognition they get from you, to whether they trust your leadership.  

The most precious treasure a leader can uncover is their team’s honest feelings and needs. 

Officevibe Relationship with manager product UI

Officevibe allows employees to share anonymous feedback directly with their manager.

Sign up for free!

Most importantly, when you get feedback from employees, thank them for it and be clear about how you plan to take action on their pains and suggestions.

Tip: Let them know why you are doing this, and that it’s safe to share their opinion in this survey. You can share the results with your team once they come in, and start working together on engagement initiatives.

8. Don’t let recognition fall through the cracks

No matter how busy things get, don’t let this important element of employee engagement get sidelined. According to our data,

34% of employees report that they are unhappy with how frequently they’re recognized at work.

A few words of appreciation or positive feedback is one of the simplest ways to increase engagement on your team.

Tips for offering meaningful recognition to your team:

  • Be very specific and explain the impact of their work
  • Be timely and share feedback as close to the event or behaviour as possible
  • In addition to private recognition, share recognition publicly to increase motivation
  • Encourage peers to recognize one another

9. Hold one-on-one meetings with your employees

Similar to pulse surveys, one-on-one meetings are a great way to take some time to discuss with your team members and understand their reality. When you are more aware of how your employees are feeling, it will be easier for you to engage your team members.

Here are a few ideas of questions to ask your employees during one on ones to improve employee engagement. :

  • What can I do as a manager to help you grow in your role?
  • Is there anything stopping you from progressing in your area of expertise?
  • Is stress affecting you negatively?
  • Do you see any potential area of improvement in your work? How can I help you get there?
  • Do you feel like the goals you have right now are attainable? If not, what is missing to make them attainable?

10. Engage your employees with progression goals

Business goals are essential, but progression goals work as a motivational factor when it comes to employee engagement. This is because progression goals are all about leveling up skills gradually and constantly. They basically help you support your team’s professional growth.

When employees don’t have progression goals, they can get caught up in a monotonous routine, with no clear ways to improve. This can easily turn into loose of interest and disengagement over time.

By implementing progression goals that are interesting, measurable, and incremental, employees can account for and own their professional development.

Simply put, getting support from their manager to become better professionals, will give your team a sense of purpose in their role and keep them engaged for the long-run.

Here are a few examples of progression goals to improve employee engagement:

  • To expand your network: attending one seminar every 3 months
  • To better understand the business: set x amount of 15 min chats, with leaders at the company over the next quarter
  • To better a hard skill: train 30min a week on x skill
  • To improve subject knowledge: read one short article per day on subject matter
  • To improve communication skills: kick-off 1 team meeting per week

Pro tip: make sure that progression goals are repeatable, measurable, and systematic.

Keep in mind that business goals and progression goals should go hand-in-hand. They should impact your team’s work day-to-day, and their personal growth, if they are to result in employee engagement.

How do you improve employee engagement on your team?