HR managers can agree that employee engagement and retention are at the top of their priority list.
Every company wants to attract and keep the best talent.
Many employees in today’s job market quickly feel uninspired by their work, get bored after 2 years and start job hunting for something new.
So we decided to speak with some of the best HR professionals and business leaders around the country to find the strategies and employee engagement best practices that they recommend. There are also some tips below that have been really successful at our company.
Here are 59 employee engagement ideas that you should apply at your office.
Free bonus: Download this entire list as a PDF. Easily save it on your computer for quick reference or print it for future company meetings. Includes 5 bonus ideas not found in this post.
1. Focus on your company’s purpose
SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly recently gave a presentation at the HR Star Conference, a large gathering of human resources professionals.
The presentation, titled “Millennials in The Workplace”, discussed how organizations can increase engagement with their millennial employees.
One of the key points Sean discussed was how important it is to align your company with an overall purpose. Don’t focus on what you do, but why you do it.
As millennials quickly begin to dominate the workforce, this message becomes more and more important.
Here’s what Sean had to say about aligning your company with a purpose (skip to the 19:35 mark):
2. Stock the office with healthy snacks
Jason Lauritsen, Director of Best Places to Work at Quantum Workplace, discusses how to increase employee engagement by making healthier foods available on-site with office snack delivery and healthy vending:
“Three-fourths of employees want access to a healthy cafeteria or vending options at their workplace, but less than half of employers actually offer it as a benefit. This creates a great opportunity. Not only will providing this benefit help organizations play a role in boosting productivity, increasing performance, and lowering healthcare costs, but we’ve also found that employees who work at organizations that provide healthy marketplace or vending options are 10 percent more likely to be engaged.”
3. Offer an awesome health and wellness program
Kevin Sheridan, New York Times best-selling Author of Building a Magnetic Culture, has helped some of the world’s largest corporations improve their culture and foster productive engagement.
When we asked him what companies should be doing better to improve workplace engagement, he offered us this wisdom:
“The bottom line is that anyone who knows about employee engagement is also a firm believer in instituting health and wellness programs. There have been multiple scientific studies proving that health and wellness efforts not only yield higher productivity and engagement in the workplace but will also help reduce turnover as job stress is the #1 reason people quit (along with a lack of work-life balance which is related to wellness as well).”
4. Keep your employees in the know
Want to know a great way to get your team more involved and committed?
Keep them up to date with “inside” information. These are things like the direction of the company and the challenges that the Leadership Team is facing.
Tim Sackett, HR Pro and President at HRU Technical Resources, explains this important part of your employee engagement strategy:
“The one true fact in all workplaces is your people want to be in the know, they want to be in the circle of trust. HR and leadership, in general, do a crappy job at this, and it has a huge impact to engagement. Find ways to make this happen and let your people know that it’s “inside” information. Trusting your employees can handle it raises engagement.”
5. Celebrate. Treat personal wins as a win for the whole department or company.
If someone on your team hits their monthly or quarterly goal, make it a win for your department or the whole company. Announce it to the rest of the team and celebrate with a Friday Happy Hour or fun outing.
6. Champion work-life balance
Work-life balance often seems like an impossible struggle. It’s difficult to find that right balance between work and personal life to feel good that both areas are receiving enough attention.
Blake McCammon of Blogging4Jobs, a popular blog focused on HR and the workplace, had this to say about work-life balance’s role in employee engagement:
“Work-life balance is one of the most important things employers can do to help employees not only stay healthy and fit, but keep them engaged day by day. Provide a work from home scenario and flexible hours where employees with children or adults with hobbies are allowed the freedom to enjoy life to the fullest, but still get their work done.”
Work-life balance is going to mean something difference for each employee, so speak with your team to see what you can be doing better as an organization to enhance it. Often times you’ll find that a flexible work schedule will be the easiest way to help people feel more balanced between work and leisure.
7. Pass out praise for each other
It shouldn’t only be left to managers to praise good work. When you hear about someone’s achievement, go over and personally congratulate them. It’ll mean a lot to that person and they’ll likely do the same for you when your big wins come through.
8. Invite a motivational speaker to the office for creativity workshops, team building, or good old pep talks.
To shake up the workday, or start Monday off with some inspiration, Cooleaf recommends hiring a motivational speaker to come into the office. Maybe your team would benefit from a creativity workshop or team-building seminar to improve in-office relationships. Employees will be grateful for the opportunity to grow and learn from experts and will come out of these experiences more energized and focused.
9. Have fun. Then have even more.
Take a half day Friday to do something fun together. Go on a scavenger hunt, play sports outdoors, go paintballing or bowling. These social events help people bond with others on the team who they don’t interact with on a daily basis and builds a better sense of community within your organization.
Irene Becker, voted as one of the Top 100 Employee Engagement Experts Online, answers the questions of how companies can drive and sustain employee engagement activities at a time when engagement is at an all time low:
“By showing our employees that we care, that we stand for something they can be proud of, and that we offer them meaningful, purposeful work and an opportunity to grow, learn, contribute and succeed because we know that success is a me to WE equation that starts with:
1. Personal, professional development and a structure for growth, recognition and are alive in the organization.
2. Managers, mentors and trainers that are equipped to coach, inspire and bring out the best in their people.
3. Communities of purpose; groups that are centered around a purpose driven business, CSR or community activity are alive, aligning shared values and mission with collaboration.
4. Transparency of communication and the integrity of the organizations commitment to growth, recognition and the optimization of individual and collective potential is mirrored in new ways of developing team spirit and vertical/horizontal collaboration.
5. Human interaction, social activities that engage our people as human beings in the human side of being part of a vibrant, growing, thriving culture.”
11. Ask for honest feedback via an anonymous survey
Sometimes it’s a lot easier for employees to say how they really feel in an anonymous survey. Actually, it’s always easier when it’s anonymous.
Use a tool like TINYpulse or SurveyMonkey to create a survey and send it out to your team. Surveys are one of the few ways to actually measure and track engagement, so definitely make this part of your efforts.
Ask questions like:
- How are you feeling? What’s the morale you see around you?
- Good Idea (what one thing will make the biggest improvement in your job, your team or the organization?)
- How satisfied are you with your opportunities for professional growth?
- Do you have a good working relationship with your manager?
- Are you satisfied with your overall compensation?
12. Find out what your team members are passionate about
Are they into mountain biking? Do they write a personal blog? Do they want to backpack around Southeast Asia next summer?
Know what your team is passionate about. It’ll help you connect with them and show them that you actually care about their interests.
13. Bring on the perks
Perks can help make your office a more fun place to work.
JellyVision Interactive Marketing offers these awesome unique perks to their employees:
- Unlimited vacation days (with the assumption this privilege won’t be abused)
- The ability to work from home whenever necessary or work out an unconventional schedule
- On-site yoga and a free healthy catered lunches every week
- Refrigerators and cupboards stocked with fruit and healthy snacks for the entire office
- A yearly Wellness Day featuring free 15-minute back massages for every employee and a taste test of unusual, healthy juices
- Mustache Day (a sort of mustache-themed Halloween that culminates in a fancy lunch out)
- Frequent company-wide involvement in charity fun runs
Beyond all these employee benefits, JellyVision also told us that they reduce work anxiety for their employees by 1) hiring nice, funny, talented people who become the sort of colleagues who make the day more enjoyable and 2) by nurturing a culture of transparency, humor and kindness—a way of being that is modeled by their founder, Harry, and CEO, Amanda.
Check out our list of corporate wellness ideas to give your wellness program some new life.
14. Kick cubicles to the curb
Whether you’ve seen them in employee engagement films like Office Space, or experienced them yourself, cubicles are quickly dying out. Today, the most engaged companies opt for office decor and cool office supplies that promote comfort and collaboration, not seclusion. So cut out the cubicles and replace them with spacious, open desks. The possibilities for creating an open air office environment are endless, so be creative, and have fun with it!
15. Offer ongoing mentoring, coaching and training
Coaching and mentoring shouldn’t stop after an employee’s initial on-boarding process. A study done by Deloitte in 2012 found that retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in company-sponsored mentorship.
Some people in your organization will proactively seek mentors and training, while others will need it to come directly from their manager. Offer an optional weekly coaching session to discuss strategies and tactics that can help each member of the department improve in their role, and make them fun!
16. Make open communication easy and consistent
Ask the managers of your organization to setup a weekly meeting to see where their direct reports need resources, any new ideas they have, and how things are going in their role. You’ll find that both managers and direct reports will look forward to these meetings and use them like a strategy session to improve their department on a weekly basis. Engage companies rely on open internal communications.
17. Capture the magic of your team’s “I’s”
“To improve employee engagement, capture the magic of the I’s in team: integrity, initiative, individual talents, and invaluable diversity. Highlight each individual’s talents and how they contribute to the whole.”
–Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
18. Make sure newbies comfortably meet the whole team
An employee who feels cared for and is surrounded by people who bond with them is much more likely to feel happy and engaged at work. We all get to know our bosses and direct reports pretty well, but it’s also important for new team members to build relationships with the rest of the staff.
UserVoice demonstrates this point well – they invite the whole staff to a game night whenever someone new joins the company. The company offers free beer, a game (think board games or pool/ping-pond/darts) and a “ridiculous sort of quiz” they invented.
19. Make it clear how your employees job directly advances the company’s vision
Your company has undoubtedly recorded its vision and goals for the year. Why not show employees exactly how their jobs advance the vision? This will boost each employee’s investment in the success of the company instead of just feeling like a cog in the wheel.
20. Help employees to move laterally within the organization to follow their passions
There are times when employees (especially the younger ones) are still figuring out their career paths. If a member of your team finds something else at your company that they’re passionate about and want to pursue, create a roadmap to get them there. This will help you retain some of your young talent when they might have otherwise abandoned ship.