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49 Employee Engagement Ideas

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet Your Team Will Love

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a two part article. The first part contained the first 25 ideas and can be found in the 3rd Quarter 2017 issue of The MHEDA Journal, the second part below contains the remaining 24.

As important as it is to work towards improving your organization’s levels of employee engagement, there’s no getting around the fact that it can be rather difficult. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

CEOs, managers, and “higher-ups” need all the help they can get in order to ensure that their staff is on the right track, especially as businesses begin to grow.

After all, everyone wants to lead their team to success, and sometimes all it takes is a few fresh ideas to help rejuvenate your employees and increase their productivity to a large degree.

Every once in a while, it helps to have a cheat sheet on your side that can help you to steer your team in the right direction. There’s no harm in referring to the following employee engagement ideas from time to time, as they can help to bring your team together and encourage empowerment, engagement and improved performance. They’re also a great way of how to motivate employees in your organization.

Keep these ideas close by, and you’ll start seeing results in no time.

  1. Let Employees Work in Other Departments on Occasion

If there’s one thing that can make employee engagement levels soar, it’s helping your staff to learn the ins-and-outs of the business entirely.

What this means, is that members of your organization need to have the chance to see what it’s like to work in a department other than their own.

After all, you can only expect to get a small part of the picture if you’re constantly stuck in your own world, and the same can be said for any other member of your company.

By allowing your staff to move around from one department to another on occasion, you’ll not only help employees to get to know each other better, but everyone will begin to see the ways in which the business truly runs. This typically leads to a more engaged workforce, and each employee will bring with them the information they take away from working in other departments to apply it to their own position. It’s truly a win-win situation, and more than worth experimenting with.

  1. Hold Regular Brainstorming Sessions

Ideas are very much like water.

When things are flowing, the benefits are as clear as day, and everyone is in a good mood.

A lack of ideas is like a drought, starving your business of potentially and stifling progress.

The more you can do to foster the creation and sharing of great ideas within your organization, the better off your business will fare in the long run and the more engaged your employees will be.

The best way to keep ideas flowing is to hold regular brainstorming sessions with your staff. Promote candor and open talking. No criticism. No discussion is wrong.

Allow them to articulate ways in which they feel your organization could benefit and see progress, and don’t be close-minded about anything they may say.

Sometimes, all it takes is a seed of an idea in order to spark something magical, and you’ll be missing out on an ocean of potential if you ignore what your staff has to say.

  1. Schedule Quarterly “Side-by-Sides”

It’s amazing just how fast time can go by when you and your staff are focused on the tasks at hand. Remaining mindful of time that has passed is essential to getting the most out of that which you have, and it’s important to check-in with your staff more than not.

Checking-in will not only allow you to monitor the progress of your employees, but it will also cut down on how much work it will take to fix any potential issues that might come to light.

Every few months, plan on having one of your managers do a “side-by-side” with an employee, during which they’ll follow the person through their day in order to get a better sense of their work tactics. This is also an excellent opportunity for your staff and managerial team to bond with each other, it’s a learning session for all of those involved…which can help to boost engagement levels. Plus, they’ll have a chance to ask any questions that may have recently been on their minds.

  1. Let Employees Set Their Number of Yearly Sick Days

Contention in the workplace can be difficult to avoid at times, especially when it comes to holidays and sick days. Often, employees will get the  sense that they aren’t receiving the amount of paid time off that they feel they deserve, and these feelings can sometimes build to result in problems related to employee engagement.

While there’s no easy way to avoid this problem, one method you could experiment with is allowing your staff to choose the amount of yearly sick days they have off.

It stands to reason why some managers might get be uncomfortable with this concept, but there are a number of benefits that come along with taking the risk.

For one, who wants to be working side-by-side with someone who is sick? Not me. If you’re sick, stay at home and get better…and if you really want to work…work from home.

When your staff is involved in the process of scheduling sick days, they won’t be able to complain about or feel slighted with the end results, hence eliminating a rather common issue that has plagued businesses of all kinds for many years.

  1. Operate on a First-Name Basis

Getting to know each and every member of your staff on a personal level can be quite a challenge if you’re managing a lot of people.

I’m really bad at remembering people’s names. I can tell you what they were wearing, what they talked about, if they were confident or not…but when it comes to their name…its just tough.

This is especially true for CEOs and managers in organizations that employ a lot of people…in which case learning everyone’s name by heart can seem next to impossible. The importance of operating on a first-name basis, should never be overlooked, as doing so can come along with a number of benefits.

No one wants to be viewed as a cog in the wheel, and feelings such as this can have detrimental effects on levels of engagement. When you call an employee by his or her first name, they no longer feel as if they’re just a number.

It may take you quite a while to learn everyone’s name, but the important thing is that you try.

Even if you slip up from time to time, your staff will appreciate the fact that you’re putting in the effort to get to know them on a more personal level.

  1. Hire from the Inside First

For employees that are concerned with upward movement within an organization, there’s nothing more discouraging than working for a company that tends to hire from the outside only.

Outside hires are more common than most people would like to admit, especially among businesses that are attempting to save money by hiring cheap. This won’t do you any favors, and will only serve to cause your employees to feel further disengaged in their work.

Hiring from the inside comes along with a number of benefits, specifically for as a great employee engagement idea.

For one, the candidate will already have a strong handle on the ways in which your organization operates, not to mention the fact that there will already be working relationships with colleagues set in place.

But perhaps most importantly, hiring from within will generate excitement among your entire staff, raising levels of engagement and promoting a more positive work environment — two things every great manager should be focusing on.

  1. Hold an Awards Night

Anyone who is familiar with The Office (BTW I love this show, I’m from PA and grew up about an hour from Scranton)….anyway…if you seen the show you likely remember the episodes which involved “The Dundees,” the company’s very own awards ceremony.

It may seem like a goofy idea at face value, but there’s actually quite a bit to gain from holding an awards night, and it can be a great time for you and your staff to get together and celebrate a year’s worth of achievements.

The sky’s the limit in terms of how you can plan an awards night for your organization. You can do it in the comfort of your own office…but why not rent out a space and really make it a party?

Live music, catering, and anything else you can think of (themes come to mind)…will all help to make your awards ceremony a hit, and you can pull off a party like this without spending too much money if you plan things out ahead of time.

Just be sure you’re creative with the awards categories! Again, ask your employees about award categories and even let them vote on who should win awards. But remember to keep it in good fun.

  1. Let Your Staff Determine Their Dress Code

Suit and tie? Khakis and a polo shirt? T-shirt and jeans? Hawaiian shirt day? How about whatever they feel most comfortable wearing?

Dress code can have a big impact on attitude, and it’s been debated time and time again over which code of dress is best for maintaining a sense of professionalism while also allowing employees to feel comfortable throughout the day.

Every office needs its own sense of culture, and the ways in which people dress can have a dramatic impact on the look and feel of your work environment. If you’re open to switching things up, you might want to allow your staff to determine what their code of dress should be.

When you’re already working with a team of respected professionals, there shouldn’t really be much of a concern over what one might wear to work.

For the most part, you should be able to trust that your employees will come to work looking good, regardless of what type of style they might embrace

Allowing your staff to come up with a reasonable dress code that everyone can be happy with is an excellent way to boost engagement levels.

  1. Bring in Motivational Speakers Every Month/3 Months

If you’ve ever seen a good motivational speaker work their magic, chances are you already know just how effective they can be at helping to improve employee engagement/ inspiration/motivation/whatever. I absolutely love going to hear smart people talk, no matter what they are talking about.

Motivational speakers help to remind your employees just how vital a role they serve within their organization, and their positivity can often be exactly what the doctor ordered in terms of improving levels of engagement.

Not just any motivational speaker will do, however; it has to be the right fit.

Plan to have a different motivational speaker come in each month, and structure the visits in a way that will benefit your employees the most. In choosing an individual to come in and speak, it’s essential that you take the interests and culture of your staff into consideration. Do your homework. Ask for references. If your employees are into music, consider bringing in a professional musician as a speaker; sports fans will respond well to local athletes. The possibilities for tailoring your motivational speaker program to best fit your organization are many, and the more focused you can get, the better.

  1. Have a Potluck Lunch on Thursday, or Friday

Throughout any busy work week, it’s common for employees to want to branch out and do their own thing for lunch.

While there’s nothing wrong with people getting a little solo time in during the afternoon, communal lunches can be a lot of fun, not to mention beneficial to employee engagement.

Holding a potluck lunch on Thursday (near the end of the work week) is a great way to get the team together and also helps everyone to save a bit of money in comparison to going out for lunch.

Potlucks only work when they’re structured and planned, so if you’re just now introducing this idea to your staff, be sure that everyone is wellaware of when and where the lunch will take place, as well as what everyone needs to bring.

The planning process is half the fun, as it allows staff members to come up with unique ways in which they can contribute to the party.

See how things go, and if it’s a good fit, you might want to have Thursday potlucks become a regular event.

  1. Bring Your Employees into the Hiring Process

Want to make your employees really feel like they’re an important part of your organization? There’s no better way to do so than to bring them right into the hiring process.

Having a staff member sit-in on an interview that you’re conducting comes along with a number of benefits.

For one, it makes them feel more engaged and appreciated. In addition, your employees’ input can be very helpful in ultimately leading you to make the right decision regarding a new hire, especially if they’ve been a part of the company for a long period of time.

As any interview process is typically awkward, it’s important that you let whoever sits in know that you’ll be doing the bulk of the actual interviewing. Just let them sit there and listen. Then when it’s over, ask them their thoughts on the candidate.

It’s fine for a staff member to ask a question or two, but too much can be overwhelming for the applicant. More important is asking your employee what they thought of the potential new hire after the interview is over, which is a great way to get a more well-rounded sense of whether or not the person might be a good fit.

  1. Make Up Your Own Holiday and Throw a Party

There’s never a bad excuse for throwing a party, so why not make one up?

If you’ve ever heard of the concept of “Christmas in July,” or “Halloween in April,” or an “80’s party”…you get the idea.

This serves as a great platform for throwing a fun party that will help people to separate themselves from the workday and have a great time with their colleagues, and it’s quite clear just how positive an effect this can have on levels of employee engagement within your organization.

The “Christmas in July” concept is a fun place to start when planning a themed “holiday” party, but there’s no reason why you can’t come up with your very own ideas for madeup holidays.

Try to align whatever you choose with the interests of your staff, and don’t forget to put a fair amount of effort into the planning process. Heck, throw some of that petty cash on the table.

After all, if you’re going to take the time to make up a fake holiday, you really need to nail down the details if you want the party to go well.

  1. Take Your Staff to a Local Sporting Event

Just about every city or town has a number of local sports teams that play regularly, and tickets are usually inexpensive at the minor level.

One great way to improve levels of employee engagement at your company is to take everyone out to a local game once a month, or even buy a season pass for your company.

Many minor league teams will work with you in regards to pricing, and it’s difficult to beat the experience of taking the entire office out for a game. And if you contact the sports team ahead of time, maybe you’ll even get to meet some of the players. Take photos!

People can be finicky regarding which sports they’re interested in, so before setting out to make any major purchases (tickets or passes), be sure to at least ask everyone in detail about the team/sport they’d most like to go see.

It’s not always possible to make everyone happy, but you can at least come to find some common ground if you’re up-front and take everyone’s requests into consideration.

  1. Allow Employees to Dictate Their Own Schedules

Scheduling can be a difficult part of the job for any manager. Or, it could be a nobrainer. You’re working M-F, 9 to 5 baby!

But the days where every team member can easily commit to a Monday through Friday, nine-to-five position are quickly fading away.

People are placing more focus on working remotely than ever before, and CEOs/managers are doing everything they can to accommodate the shift without losing too much control. It can be tricky to find the right amount of balance, but it’s more than worth working towards.

Instead of sticking to a rigid schedule that works for you but not everyone else in your company, allow your employees to dictate their own schedules. They should, of course, still end up putting in the same amount of time each week, but if you have the luxury of being able to remain flexible, how they structure those hours should be up to them. An employee who feels as if he is respected enough to make up his own mind about when to come into work will almost always remain fully engaged, as this creates a sense of trust that is difficult to come upon otherwise.

  1. Get Creative with Engagement Prompts

The quickest way to gauge levels of employee engagement may be to simply give-out a survey to each and every individual in your office, but that’s not to say it’s the most effective. You can read more about surveys in my other blog post, Employee Engagement Survey Questions. Good or Bad?

One way that you can get a lot of mileage is to come up with a number of different prompts and exercises that you can utilize to gain a better understanding of how an employee feels about the organization they’re working for. The more creative you can be, the better.

A favorite way to get a sense of an employee’s level of engagement is to hand them a crayon and ask them to “draw the company” in their own unique way.

It’s not as simple as tracing the physical outlines of your office, but rather a way for employees to share the feelings they get when coming to work every day in an artistic manner. You might get a few blank stares with this one, but it’s a great exercise that can be especially helpful for onboarding new hires.

  1. Have Occasional Photo or Video Contests

The days when you needed a thousand-dollar camera setup to produce even halfway decent photos are long gone.

With today’s technology, anyone with a smartphone and a good eye can capture something worthwhile. One way that you can help to further improve employee engagement within your organization is to hold an occasional photo or video contest, which can be a lot of fun even for those who have never experimented with a visual medium for creativity in the past.

You can structure your contests in a number of different ways. It could be a “just for fun” situation, or you could actually hold a contest in which the photos/videos your employees make end up on your blog, or even as a part of your branding going forward.

This is a fun way to get your staff to be more engaged in what’s happening around them, and it’s a very inexpensive tool for doing so.

  1. Encourage Your Staff to Write-Up Their Own Employee Recognition Cards

A common misconception among managers is that employee’s only need to be recognized by higher-ups in order to feel engaged.

There’s no substitute for peer respect or peer recognition, which is why it’s important for you to urge your employees to give each other a pat on the back every once in a while. This makes teams work more fluidly together and can add a genuine air of respect to the office that might not exist otherwise.

Employee recognition cards are an easy solution for helping to spread congratulations around the office, whether they be physical or virtual in nature. Encourage your staff to pay attention to the achievements their colleagues make and prepare one of these cards to celebrate a job well-done.

Anyone can give anyone else a “recognition card” for a job well done.

In this situation, everyone wins, and there’s no reason for any bad attitudes to get in the way of moving in a forward direction.

  1. Bring in a Band or Singer-Songwriter on Friday Afternoons

Music is one of the few universal things that can truly bring everyone together, and there’s no getting around the positive effects it can have in terms of helping people to de-stress.  If you really want to turn Friday afternoon into a party, you should consider  bringing in a singer songwriter.

Having a band play while you and your team relax and celebrate the achievements of the week can be highly beneficial, and it’s not nearly as difficult to make happen as you might think.

The one thing to ensure that you’re  paying attention to when picking a band to play during the afternoon is respecting the tastes of your employees. You don’t want to bring in a band or songwriter just because they appeal to you—this is about your team. Try to find groups that everyone can enjoy, and don’t hesitate  to set up a proper stage if you’ve got the space and time to do so!

  1. Sponsor a Charitable Event

Want to improve engagement levels and appeal to the general public at the same time?

Sponsoring a charitable event is one of the best routes you can take if this is what you’re aiming for.

Who doesn’t want to do some good in this world??…and the more often you get involved in volunteer work or charity, the stronger your employees will be able to identify with what they do and who they work for.

Sponsoring a charity event can serve as an excellent move, especially if things are planned-out well in advance. For best results, it may be worth your while to work with an event planner to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch. After all, you’ll want to ensure that your event is a huge hit with both your employees and the public. This is one area where it may be worth your while to spend a little bit of money, as the benefits can far outweigh the costs.

  1. Give Your Employees a Chance to Help Design Your Corporate Identity Package

A business’s corporate identity package is its bread and butter. It’s what conveys a sense of who you are to both your staff and your clients/ customers, and there’s no getting around how important it is to put the right amount of work into creating a mind-blowing suite that includes letterhead, web content and every other type of associated collateral.

Sometimes, the best design ideas come not from a high-dollar outside firm but from your very own employees, some of whom you may not even know are interested in the world of design.

It can’t really hurt to crowdsource ideas.

The next time you set out to reinvent your corporate identity package, hold a roundtable discussion and invite your whole staff to attend. What you end up with at the end of the day could be as simple as a list of concepts or ideas, but it could also be as robust and detailed as a collection of design comps. Your creative team should, of course, be the ones who are leading the discussion, but it’s important to open things up to your whole staff in terms of sourcing ideas for shapes, colors, fonts and everything in between.

  1. Let Your Employees Make Inexpensive Executive Decisions

In attempting to figure out why an employee is showing signs of disengagement, it often comes down to them not feeling as if they ever get the chance to make important decisions. You can’t always give up control when it comes to making decisions that could change the path of your organization, but there are certain scenarios where doing so might actually be to your benefit.

If there is a necessary decision looming and you have a staff member who has been working closely with you on a given project, you may want to allow them to have the final say in what happens. The benefits this can have on engagement levels can be astronomical, and there’s a very good chance that the decision could lead your business in a forward direction.

Note that this route should only be taken if the decision won’t potentially end up being costly— anything under $500 should be considered safe.

  1. Get Rid of Set Holidays and Add Them into Vacation Time

Everyone wants to have as much control over their work schedule as they can, and this is sometimes easier said than done when they have to deal with a calendar that includes set paid days off.

Holidays can be something to look forward to, but there are other ways to structure the year that may actually benefit both you and your employees more fully, and one of the most effective is to get rid of set holidays altogether.

When you get rid of set holidays, you can effectively add that time to your staff’s vacation time, allowing them to completely structure how they’d like to make the best usage of their time off.

Seeing how this can be somewhat of a radical shift, you’d have to work out the legal issues (I’m sure there are some), and you’ll want to ensure that everyone knows exactly how the new system for taking time off works, stressing that it’s actually to the benefit of everyone in the organization.

  1. Schedule a Monthly Art Class

Visual art is the kind of thing that everyone can gain something from, even if they don’t consider themselves to be an artist. Most of the time, those who don’t identify as having talent in visual art simply need a little push in the right direction, and a little bit of coaching is never a bad idea. If you want to foster a more artistic, engaged staff, then you may want to schedule a monthly art class.

Each month, set aside a workday in which either the whole or part of the afternoon will be devoted to bringing in a private instructor that can teach your staff how to paint, draw, or embrace another visual medium for creativity. You can focus on a new medium each month, for example, which is a great, low-stress way to encourage creativity without losing any aspects of fun in the process. Just be sure you choose the right instructor, and don’t hesitate to shop around to find someone who can accommodate your budget.

  1. Hold a “Birthday Breakfast” with the CEO

There’s nothing more important for an employee than knowing that the CEO actually cares.

In larger organizations, however, it’s common for people to lose sight of this, which often leads to dissention and a lack of engagement. Keeping CEOs and their employees connected whenever possible is essential to improving levels of engagement within your organization.

Each month, hold a “birthday breakfast” with the CEO and everyone who shares a birthday in that month. This is a great way for CEOs and their employees to get to know each other on a more personal basis, but it also gives people the opportunity to ask questions should there be something they’ve wanted to bring up for a while. The transparency that comes along with an informal breakfast or luncheon simply can’t be beat.

Reprinted with permission from Axero Intranet Software. Visit them on the web at http://axerosolutions.com