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25 Employee Engagement Activities To Reinvent Your Workforce

15 min read
25 Employee Engagement Activities To Reinvent Your Workforce

Employee engagement activities should be more about the heart than the brain.

Managers are busy, employees are disengaged and the current office culture is at havoc.

In this scenario, improving employee engagement is the least likely to improve.

Despite being a trend in these past decades, the level of employee engagement has barely budged. Only a meager 15% of workers are engaged at work, globally!

Why is this happening?

The truth is that most managers treat employee engagement as a one-time thing.

On the contrary, it is a continuous and evolving process. We have to modify it frequently to the various changes occurring in the workplace and in the world.

This is precisely where employee engagement activities come into play.

The word “activities” imply a call to action, as something to do. Activities are a great way to engage and involve people and to show your employees that you care.

25 Surefire Employee Engagement Activities To Motivate Your Workforce

In this article, we give you 25 employee engagement activities to boost morale and increase job satisfaction.

1. “The Employee of the month” on a regular basis

They are the first to arrive. But they are the last to leave. Also, they give a continuous optimal performance. They are great team members.

Every company has got one of these employees. Chances are, your company has one too.

Research says that the major cause of employees leaving their jobs is because of the lack of appreciation.

Recognizing hard work and achievement in the workplace increase employee morale, encourage healthy competition and creates a positive atmosphere.

With higher motivation comes better engagement, happiness and ultimately retention.

Hence, “Employee of the month” programs are a great way to show your best employees that you see their hard work and appreciate the efforts they are putting in and thus one of the best employee engagement activities that you can invest in.

For building an effective “Employee of the month” program:

  • Set up parameters and rules: Treat the program as a friendly competition. And every competition must have a set of guidelines to follow. This will ensure a fair workplace culture. Also, it will reduce possible animosity between the employees.
  • What will be the reward: The rewards can be monetary or other recognition such as displaying the winner on the company’s dashboard.
  • Decide on what basis will you select the employees: Staying late doesn’t mean being more productive. You need to find the best criteria to decide who will be a winner.
  • Celebrate the winner: Once an employee wins, publicize the winner everywhere. Let everyone know what a champion he/she is!.

2. Employees feel better about taking feedback

Feedback is one of the most powerful and overlooked weapons in your employee engagement activities arsenal.

According to the Harvard Business Review, a significantly larger number (57%) preferred corrective feedback over praise/recognition(only 43%).

Indeed, effective feedback is the key to improve workplace communication and to engage employees.

Giving regular feedback is the perfect way to keep your employees on the loop about their performance and hence an effective part of employee engagement activities.

Case in point, there’s a general stigma attached to feedback. Maybe because when a boss wants to “talk about something”, it is automatically assumed to be something negative.

The solution?

Give regular feedbacks and not only when you have to criticize employees about their performance. Also, never criticize your employees’ performance.

A good way to address declining performance should be something along the lines of-

Hi there. I know how hard you have been working and the hours you have been putting on. But the results are not as good as they should have been. Maybe you can share with me if you are facing any difficulty and we can sort it out together.

While giving a feedback, keep in mind the following points:

  • Keep it constructive and relevant. It should tell the employees something about their performance.
  • Negative feedback doesn’t equal to being harsh about it. Find out why it is happening and ways to solve it.
  • Feedback is a two-way street. Listen to what the employees have to say.
  • Keep feedbacks private. Never publicize it. Ever.
  • Give regular feedbacks.

3. TGIF Meetings to engage employees

Google is awesome. Don’t even try to deny it. One of the steps in its ladder of awesomeness is its TGIF( Thank God It’s Friday) Meetings.

What happens in these TGIF meetings that makes it a great example of employee engagement activities?

  • The corporate higher-up’s share what happened over the week with the entire company.
  • An open Q/A session where anyone can ask anything(about the company) that they want to know. Total and complete transparency.
  • Come rain or shine, the TGIF Meetings occurs every Friday without fail. Consistency is the key, people!

4. Regular Potlucks create a positive vibe

“With food, we can share and communicate our emotions. It’s that mindset of sharing that is really what you’re eating.”
–Jeong Kwan

A potluck is essentially a food-party where each guest contributes a different (often homemade) dish of food to share. At its base element, It is bonding over food.

Hosting a potluck is less about what food to bring and more about sharing the act of breaking bread with your fellow human beings.

Also as far as employee engagement activities go, a potluck requires no hassle.

Organizing a potluck is a relatively cheaper option, very easy to put together, brings a feeling of shared culture and increases the happiness quotient overall. Moreover, it provides a way to balance your work life and personal life.

Also, when teams eat together, the team dynamics improve and results in the increase of productivity and team building.

With so many positives, you should conduct an office potluck as soon as you can!

5. Encourage employees to pursue side projects

You are probably thinking that this is a waste of your company’s time and money.

But would you reconsider if I said that the maximum number of the god-level companies (think Twitter, Instagram, GitHub) started as being a side project?

One of the many benefits of side projects is that it forces the employees to think outside the box,** to get their creative juices flowing** and to effectively manage their time.

Thus, employees will be more excited to come to work and hence be more engaged. Thus, definitely a win in incorporating employee engagement activities.

6. Employee work from home policy

At Doximity, they follow the policy of GLD(Get Life Done) Wednesdays. According to Shari Buck ( CPO of Doximity):

It’s the day we tackle tough problems with fewer distractions. For me, that means sitting at my dining room table with printouts of product specs and a red pen.

Work from home Wednesdays (or any day of the week) has several benefits.

First of all, it provides a flexible work life-home life balance. Second of all, working from home with pajamas on will forever be a good idea.

Granted that not every company can afford such work from home policies on a frequent basis. So, instead of every week, you can offer a day to work from home for each month.

7. Celebrate those birthdays, anniversaries and personal milestones

Your employees will less likely be engaged if they feel that their workplace is without any soul or emotions.

Every employee has their happy days. Thus be sure to make those days really special for your employees from your side.

Sing the happy birthdays loudly!

Celebrate when an employee finishes a year(or more) of joining and decorate their workspaces when they complete a goal!

Give your employees’ and their spouses a token from your side on their anniversaries!

8. The first-day welcome card/gift to new hires

This is one of the first employee engagement activities to introduce to a new hire.

You wouldn’t want to make your new employees disengaged on their first day itself, would you?

Thus, the trick is to make your workplace as much welcoming as you can. One of the many ways is to present a welcome card, gift or email to the new hires.

However, it is not limited to this single idea. Get creative. Showcase your company’s best traits. Gather new ideas to welcome your new employees.

  • Present them with company branded SWAG(stuff we all get). It needn’t be elaborate or expensive. Mugs, t-shirts, cool stationery are good options.
  • Equally important is to introduce them to the team.
  • Moreover reach out to your new employees before they join, just as Facebook does. Thus, instead of a long lecture about what to do and not to do, send these over an email. It will save everyone’s time.
  • Uniquely, give the new employees the opportunity to choose their first project. Thus, successfully completing it will help him/her to ease into the company’s workflow as well as boost their morale.

9. Build a great mentorship program

It is best not to leave a new employee in the midst of the wolves, so as to speak.

Predictably, every new employee is bound to feel lost and unsure. This is where the mentorship program comes in.

A mentor is a more experienced person who guides and advice a less experienced one.

With this in mind, you can assign an older employee as a mentor. Also, to make the process fun you can throw in some additional benefits for employees volunteering to be mentors.

Here are the reasons why you should think about implementing a mentorship program:

  • A mentorship program is beneficial to both the receiving ends. The mentee gets someone to guide him and the mentor learns to be responsible.
  • When a new employee faces some trouble he/she might be hesitant to approach the manager straightway. In this case, the chances of confiding to the mentor are higher. This knowledge reduces a huge amount of stress and anxiety from a new employee’s mind.
  • A mentor showing you the ropes is bound to be more useful than a long and dull orientation lecture. The new employee will learn his way around the company faster if a mentor is there to guide them.

10. “Pecha Kucha Nights” is a great employee engagement strategy

I am actually so excited to share with you about this one.

Pecha Kucha is a presentation style created by the Japanese. The idea is simple.

A Pecha Kucha presentation will have 20 slides. Each slide will be shown for 20 seconds. So, a Pecha Kucha presentation lasts for exactly** 6 minutes and 40 seconds**.

Pecha Kucha Nights was devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in February 2003 where young designers met, showed their work and exchanged ideas.

The first Pecha Kucha Night was first held in Tokyo. After that, it blew way out of proportion.

Consequently, Pecha Kucha Nights became the rage everywhere.

Benefits of a “Pecha Kucha Night”:

  • We as human beings have a very small attention span. Thus, it means that a long presentation will result in a numbing of brains and long yawns. Hence, the Pecha Kucha style of presentation can be used for business meetings as well as for a fun night.
  • A Pecha Kucha Night is usually a theme based night where each participant has to share his views and points based on the topic. It gives the participants to hold a free pass to share and gain information.
  • For the most part, easy and pretty much inexpensive to organize.

11. Boosting morale by volunteering for a cause

To give someone a part of your happiness will multiply it by thousand folds.

When people participate in the art of giving, it inspires in them a feeling of peace, joy, and contentment.

Indeed, the notion of “giving back” is very, very powerful.

In fact, you don’t need a huge budget or a PR strategy to do good in the world. Most often, it is the simple acts of kindness that make all the difference in the world.

It might be a day at the old age home where the employees help out in the day to day tasks. It might be volunteering at the animal shelter. Then again, it might be taking the children from an orphanage out to a picnic or a park.

The possibilities are simply endless! So go out there and do your bit.

12. “How was your day?”

Never, ever underestimate the power of small talk.

All your efforts to engage employees will go to waste if your employees feel that you are indifferent to them.

In order to build an organization based on mutual trust and respect, you need to bridge the gap between you and your employees.

So when it comes down to it, how much do you actually know about your employees?

Hence, get to know them a little more. Especially, talk to them about their families, pets, dreams. Ask them how their day was going. Whenever you see them, be sure to smile or say good morning.

13. Nap Times

You know the feeling when after having a productive morning, you eat your lunch and suddenly your eyelids couldn’t stay open?

I am sure every employee can relate with this feeling!

So does that mean that after lunch every employee in the world is in an eternal state of doziness and is not actually productive?

However, the Japanese have an answer to this problem!

In Japan, the maximum number of companies offer their employees nap time, convinced that it leads to better work performance.

And it has been very successful, so far.

Okuta, a home renovation firm near Tokyo, allows its employees to take a 20-minute power nap at their desks or in the staff lounge. Introduced two years ago on the orders of the firm’s chairman, Isamu Okuta, it has proved a huge hit.

14. Meditation time to manage work-life stress

Stress among the employees is at an all-time high. The effects of stress play out differently in different persons. Some feel that stress is the best motivator to work while some can’t cope up with stress.

Hence, stress will act as a hindrance while planning activities for employee engagement activities.

Whatever be the outcome, stress should be learned to be effectively managed.

One of the best ways to relieve stress is through meditation. To clarify, meditation is not about monk-like focus or chanting “om”.

Meditation is about taking a moment to sit still, reflect upon your thoughts and simply breathe.

Research says that practicing meditation for even 10 minutes control stress, decrease anxiety, improve cardiovascular health, and achieve a greater capacity for relaxation.

Thus, at the start of each day, encourage your employees to meditate for at least 10 minutes before resuming any of their work. It will enable them to keep stress at bay, focus better and perform better throughout the day.

15. Office Trips are great for team building

Office trips are fun, engaging and a great way to bond. An annual office trip can be established as a sort of office tradition and will be a good thing to look forward too.

16. Silly Trophies are fun and engaging

Every workplace has its own set of characters with their own personal trait and quirks.

Awarding silly trophies is a way of celebrating the uniqueness and sharing a laugh around.

So, go on and give the titles of “The Foodie”, “The Most Likely To Cry During A Movie”, “The Mom” and much more! Make these awards fun, creative and loud.

After all, silliness has a charm of its own.

17. Host an Anxiety Party

It is exactly as it sounds.

You host a party. Everyone gathers around and shares their anxieties.

Organizing Anxiety Parties is an idea that the Google Ventures team came up with.

The idea was formed when the team members of the Google Ventures team started having doubts and work-related anxieties. Also, they were rather hesitant to discuss these anxieties with the other teammates.

So, they threw an Anxiety Party.

How to successfully throw an Anxiety Party:

  • The first step is to actually convince everyone to attend.
  • Once you get everyone to gather around, give everyone a piece of paper.
  • Instruct everyone to write any work-related anxieties or worries that have been keeping them up at night.
  • Spend about 10 minutes to write down worries such as “I am worried that my work is not stellar”
  • Collect the sheets of papers and ask the participants to rank them. A rank 0 would mean that “I didn’t know it was an issue”. A rank 10 would mean that “Yes, I have been facing the same problem”
  • Then, address each issue starting with the highest ranked anxiety. Discuss upon ways to counteract these anxieties with actionable goals.
  • Throw Anxiety Parties whenever necessary. Google does it quarterly but you should do it according to your employees’ needs.

Personally, I think hosting an Anxiety Party will be one of the most effective among all of the employee engagement activities.

18. “Bring your pets to work” Days

Who wouldn’t want to have their best friend beside them all day long?

This might sound strange for being a part of the employee engagement activities, but hear me out.

According to research done when a “Bring your dog to work” Day was conducted :

The differences in perceived stress between days the dog was present and absent were significant. The employees as a whole had higher job satisfaction than industry norms.

Reasons to have a “Bring your pets to work” Day:

  • Having pets in the office helps in increasing employee morale.
  • In addition, pets are the best stress reliever. Research has indicated that the simple act of stroking a pet can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Moreover, pets also help in increasing coworker cooperation.

How to successfully host a “Bring your pets to work” Day:

  • First, gather a list of employees and their pets.
  • Also ask around if any employee has any animal-related allergies. Likewise, keep a note of any employee has any pet-related anxieties.
  • The allowed pets should be comfortable around people.
  • Every pet should have a tag where the owner’s name and details are clearly mentioned.
  • Furthermore, make every employee responsible for their respective pets i.e. toys, food etc.

19. Focus on Brainstorming Sessions

Do you know what is the sure way to see your business decline? A lack of new ideas.

Brainstorming remains the greatest and the most effective way to generate new ideas.

Steve Jobs preferred to go on a walk with his team and discussed new ways to innovate ( walking is said to great ideas flowing by almost 60%). Jeff Bezos throws occasional two pizzas parties to gather a small group of people to brainstorm with.

Yes, brainstorming sessions are loud and chaotic. Also, many a time these sessions wouldn’t give productive ideas.

But it still remains one of the best employee engagement activities. Why?

Because conducting these brainstorming sessions is extremely profitable for your organizations. Especially because when structured correctly, brainstorming sessions gives great results.

  • Encourages critical thinking and out-of-the-box ideas.
  • Also, it helps in team building.
  • Furthermore, you get a diverse range of ideas.
  • Brings out the introverted employees out of their shell and encourages them to contribute.

20. Celebrate Diversity Day

We are all different and hence, stronger together.

What is diversity, you ask? It is a collaboration between various races, ethnicities, and genders.

Did you know that in a blind audition, female musicians increased their probability of being selected by about 25% to 46%?

It shows without a doubt how much of a subconscious intolerance we have when we meet someone who is different from us. Thus, this is precisely why we need to build upon and celebrate the diversity of our workplace.

With this in mind, celebrating Diversity Day in your company would mean a lot to the people who face a cultural block.

Furthermore, it would also help to educate your employees to respect the various cultures, people and traditions.

21. Gamification helps increase employee competitiveness

Nothing drives better performance and enhances engagement as a reward waiting at the end of a competition.

Gamification is not similar to games. Gamification is essentially taking the factors which makes games so engaging and fun and applying it in real life situations.

In other words, it is the concept of turning tasks into a friendly competition of sorts.

And employees seem to love this!

According to Gallup, the implementation of gamification is the workplace has resulted in almost a 147% increase in performance, up to 65% less turnover and 37% fewer absences.

So, if you want a fast-paced solution in securing engagement among your employees, consider investing in gamification.

22. One-on-one Meetings to boost work-life

One-on-One meetings dictate the most important part of the employees’ experience: how they perceive you, their boss.

These meetings are very vital in building a bridge of communication between you and your employees.

Yes, one-of-ones are time-consuming but the return on investment is huge. But as a boss, you shouldn’t shy away from conducting these meetings.

Some tips to remember during a one-to-one meeting

  • First of all, make it about them and not you. Don’t try to brag or superimpose.
  • Moreover, prepare a list of questions that you have been meaning to ask. Otherwise, the meeting will be futile.
  • Try to listen with an open mind without interrupting.
  • As much as possible, keep it informal and relaxed. Also, regularly conduct these meetings.

23. Conduct frequent training development sessions

It is evident that along the course of their career, an employee will face new technologies or concepts they are unfamiliar with.

In this scenario, conducting frequent training sessions are crucial in building employee morale and ensuring that they don’t lose their self-confidence.

Frequent training sessions help in:

  • Keeping an employee updated on the current technologies.
  • It will assure that an employee will be able to give their optimal performance.
  • Helps to meet your employees’ need for continuous growth and career development.

24. Give away those rewards

Here’s a great tip for you to build a great company culture.

Give rewards on goals achieved by the employees or by team members. Giving rewards is an integral part of all employee engagement activities.

However, never assume the possible rewards that your employees may want.

Sure, they’ll accept it with smiling faces whatever it is that you give. But will they be happy about it? Well, definitely not!

But you’ll find that apps and software which will allow your employees to select from a variety of rewards that THEY want, will work wonders in building culture.

Thus this way your employees won’t have to pretend to be satisfied and also will more likely to be engaged.

25. Peer-to-peer Recognition works wonders

Peer to peer employee recognition is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.
-Source(SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey)

Peer-to-peer recognition is one of the most underrated while significant employee engagement activities.

Remember the last time when someone told you what a great job you have done?

Particularly, think about how happy and contented it made you feel.

Namely, recognition boils down in appreciating a job well done. And peer-to-peer recognition happens to be the most powerful motivators in and outside the workplace.

All in all, having a peer-to-peer recognition is an outstanding way to** build an environment of gratitude and appreciation**, where colleagues thank each other for their accomplishments.

Whether be it a digital appreciation platform where appreciation becomes easy or simply encouraging your employees to show their colleagues some love.

Ultimately those “kudos” are important and you know it!

Before You Go

We know that engaging your employees may seem like a gigantic task that can never be accomplished.

But try to incorporate these 25 employee engagement activities and we are sure that you will have a more productive, engaged and happier workforce at hand.

Barasha Medhi is a content writer and marketer at Vantage Circle. She constantly researches ways to improve upon the current corporate culture when not busy petting dogs or exploring new cuisines!