How to Drive Employee Engagement: 22 Ideas to Inspire Your Team

BY Tamara W.  |  April 8th, 2020  |  No Comments
Tamara W.
Tamara pulls no punches as our own Captain Marvel of Branding.

Having a team that is bought in on what you’re company is all about is a massive part of having a successful business.

Today, employees are looking for more out of their work than ever before. And when we say more, we mean more meaningful work. According to a Harvard Business Review study, 9 out of 10 employees are even willing to take a cut in their pay to work a more meaningful job.

But what makes a meaningful job for an employee? Is it the projects they produce? The people they work with? The mission of the company? The occasional free lunch?

It’s a combination of all those things and much more as well.

Employee engagement can be tough to create, but it’s important to invest in the ideas we’re discussing today. Here’s why; another Harvard Business Review article explains that employee engagement does more than just boost productivity.

In the article, Jim Harter Ph.D., a chief scientist at Gallup Research, explains how employee engagement can have ripple effects throughout a business.

“Engaged employees are more attentive and vigilant,” says Harter. “They look out for the needs of their coworkers and the overall enterprise because they personally ‘own’ the result of their work and that of the organization.”

To help you create a productive and engaging workplace, here are 14 creative solutions to drive employee engagement!

Update Your Mission Statement With Employee Input

Having a clear mission statement that your employees are familiar with is one thing. But, creating a mission statement that your employees get to give their input towards is an even better way to do it.

By giving your employees a voice in the overall mission of your company, you’ll provide them with a sense of empowerment and ownership in your business.

Offer Volunteering Opportunities

It’s important to remember that businesses have a responsibility to better the communities—and even the world—around them. Sure, not all companies can have an exorbitant amount of excess revenue that they can donate to good causes.

But, in lieu of charitable donations, companies of all sizes can take some time out of their year to volunteer. Whether it’s for a local food shelf or a global organization like Habitat For Humanity, volunteering is a great way to get employees engaged and to help them see the big picture of how the company they work for can make a positive impact on society.

Invest in an Office Space That Encourages Creativity

Not every industry lends itself to modern, open office spaces. For example, a marketing agency might have a less rigid and less structured office setting than compared to an accounting firm.

However, that doesn’t mean that all employees—no matter what their roles are or where they work—don’t need some creative-inspiration while at work. However, the tricky part is creating a space that accommodates every type of work style. For example, some employees may prefer more closed off environments, while some enjoy the open office style that is becoming more popular. Communicating with your employees is the best way to incorporate both preferences.

Go Above and Beyond to Reward Excellence

Recognizing employees comes with all sorts of benefits, including higher engagement, more productivity, less employee turnover, and even higher customer satisfaction. Taking the time to give credit where credit is due is such an essential part of any organization.

Rewarding excellent work, ideas, and attitudes can especially be important for large companies, where some employees may feel lost in the masses. By having your company’s managers recognize great work in their teams, you can bet that employee engagement will improve dramatically. It never hurts to take some time out of the day to tell your employees you appreciate their hard work.

Set-Up Time for Personal, Work-Related Projects

Again, this might not be possible for all businesses. But, if you have the capacity and flexibility to allow for employees to tackle passion-projects that directly relate to your company, it’s a great idea.

A common personal project that still works towards a work goal is the creation and implementation of a new process to increase effectiveness and productivity. This is especially great for younger companies who maybe don’t have their process totally fleshed out, or for growing ones that need to update their current processes. When employees feel like they have a part in building out a business, they are more likely to be engaged and bought in.

Create a Culture That Prioritizes Growth

It’s essential to have high employee retention. And, while it might seem like helping your employees grow and learn in their field will make them leave for opportunities elsewhere, it can have the opposite effect. By offering ongoing education, training, courses, and online classes, your employees will not only be able to perform better in their current roles, but they’ll be primed for promotions too.

Hiring in-house is a great way to build engagement, as it shows that you’re invested in your employees’ careers.

Make Sure Managers Give Feedback as Well as Receive It

The mark of a good office is one that is continuously communicating, both up and down the organizational ladder. Managers should not be afraid to give feedback, both positive and negative (though “negative” feedback should always be countered with advice and suggestions so that it can be a learning opportunity).

Employees also must feel like the work environment allows for them to speak up and give feedback to their managers and supervisors. Otherwise, your business will lose out on some great ideas and potential solutions to issues. Once again, feeling like they have some say in the organization and how it is run will help with employee engagement.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Happy Hours

Sometimes, it’s the little things. And while the classic work happy hour—whether in the office or at a local bar—is not a ground-breaking employee engagement initiative, but it is an effective one. It’s nice to hang out with colleagues and not talk about work. Instead, happy hours are the perfect time to build camaraderie and, overall, just relax with coworkers.

As this article from Inc. illustrates, employee happy hours can drive engagement up by 66%!

Start a Buddy/Mentor Program For New Employees

Employee engagement starts from day one for new employees. Because of this, it’s important to make sure new employees feel comfortable in their new roles from the get-go.

Implementing a buddy/mentorship program is an excellent way to do just that. By pairing up your more experienced employees who are eager to participate with new team members, you can help new employees get settled in and become confident in their new position.

Add Healthy Snacks to the Office Snack Closet

Healthy snacks can be the secret to improving productivity in the office. This fascinating article breaks down just how effective including more fruits and less-sugary and salty snacks in the office can help increase how productive your office is.

Healthy snacks are also a great way to create an environment that is accommodating to any employees that are trying to eat healthily, as well as any employees who have diabetes or other health concerns.

Do Occasional Free Team Lunches

Everyone loves a free lunch and surprising your teams with catering or a trip to a local restaurant is a great way to drive engagement . Plus, it’s another excellent way to show appreciation for everything they do.

Perhaps each month or so, you can come up with a goal for your teams, and when these benchmarks are met, a free team lunch is the reward.

Make Sure Employees Understand Their Path to Promotions

Engaged employees are oftentimes people who see their current company as a place they can be in the long-term. In order to feel that way, employees must feel like they can advance in their career with your company. This doesn’t mean continuously assuring your employees their promotion will come, but outlining what it takes to be considered for promotions at your company.

For example, after 3 years, an employee may be entitled to a raise. After 5 years, a promotion to a manager or a senior position of some sort. When you’re transparent with your employees on their path to promotion, it gives them something to work towards, as well as create a plan for themselves that involves your company in the long-term.

Set Individual Goals to Motivate

It can’t be overstated how important goals are for employee engagement. Goals offer a clear sense of direction, as well as act as a motivational tactic for encouraging the best work from your employees.

In order to create a goal that truly motivates and excites your employees, you need to come up with it collaboratively. Let your employees have a say in what their goals are. After all, if they aren’t on board with the goals, they aren’t likely to accomplish them. And even if they do meet their goals, it might not mean that much if they don’t care about the goal. Individual goals can be weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly, and so on.

Set Team Goals to Rally Around

Individual goals are important, but they should also be in-line with several team goals as well. Team goals are important because they can provide an extra sense of community for you and your employees.

When a large group of people can rally around a common goal, incredible things can happen. Just like individual goals, team goals can span anywhere from a week to multiple years. When deciding on goals, look at your business’ needs or the areas in which your company needs to improve. A good team or company goal should involve as many different employees and departments as possible. You can always have more than one company goal, too.

For example, if you want to reduce expenditures, the finance team is going to be more closely involved with that than the marketing department. So, it’s a good idea to create a new team goal for the marketing team and perhaps the sales department as well.

When you can get two different teams working together over one goal, it can create a sense of camaraderie, as well as improve employee engagement!

How Pops Diabetes Care Can Help Your Team Be More Engaged at Work

More than 100 million Americans are living with diabetes or prediabetes today, according to the CDC. The majority of these Americans are in the workforce as well, and it’s crucial that all companies take the time to ensure a safe office environment for any employees they have with diabetes.

At Pops Diabetes Care, we’ve worked tirelessly to produce a digital care solution that allows your employees to thrive at work while worrying less about managing their diabetes—which will lead to more fulfilling, engaging work.

With Pops’ Rebel, a traditional testing kit combined with the ease-of-use of a virtual care system, your employees with diabetes will take control of their health at work with ease.

Mina, your employees’ virtual coach, will help them set reminders, keep track of goals, and offer encouragement throughout their day.

Read more about Rebel + Mina here, and contact us today to learn more about how we can help you create an engaging work environment!

Bring in Some Therapy Dogs!

Puppers, doggos, woofers, floofs. Whatever you want to call them, dogs seem to make everything better. Universities will bring in therapy dogs during finals week to help ease the stress of finals. Take a page out of their book and have some of your employees bring their dogs in for the day. Just make sure to ask around if anyone has allergies and, if so, find a space outside to chill with some dogs for the afternoon. After all, dogs are a great way to relieve anxiety and stress.

Many workplaces allow their employees to bring their dogs to work whenever they want. If no one in your company has allergies, it’s not a bad idea to explore this option. And, if you don’t want dogs in the office every day, you can designate a specific day of the week for employees to bring their furry companions to work with them.

Hand Out Quarterly/Yearly Awards

Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work. One fun way to ensure employees are recognized for a job well done is through quarterly or yearly awards. They can be serious (Office Workhorse, Best Presenter, Best Brand Ambassador), or they can be humorous (Office Clown, Best Dressed, or the “I’ll Pencil You in” Award, for least likely to make a commitment).

Think of it as your own personal Dundies, except instead of being extremely awkward and cringe-worthy, it’s a lot of fun and lighthearted.

Create Your Own March Madness Bracket For the Company’s Favorite Game

Everyone loves a good March Madness-style bracket. And every company has their favorite game too. Whether it’s bags (or cornhole), foosball, shuffleboard, or ping pong, whatever your company’s go-to game or activity is, turn it into a fun tournament. Create an actual bracket and designated times for the games to get done. You can do it over the course of a week or month (depending on how big your company is).

Just make sure that you try and keep the teams fairly even, as it isn’t fun when the two best players are on the same team and just dominant (i.e., the foosball sharks who hustled for money in the greasy local bar in the 90s DON’T get to be on the same team).

Offering activities like this is a great way to break up the day and allow your employees to take a little break, relax, and just have fun.

Take an Afternoon to Go to a Ball Game

Another way to give employees a little break is by taking them to a baseball game during an afternoon. Baseball outings are a staple of the small businesses especially, as you can take the entire team, and it’s a relatively inexpensive outing. While there will no doubt be some baseball fans that are keen on watching the game, others will simply enjoy being outside and having a drink or a hot dog while walking around and taking in the sights and sounds of the game.

Give Out Company Swag

Company swag is a tried-and-true tactic for improving employee engagement. Getting everyone in the office a new branded fleece or hoodie can help boost office morale. As this article from Element Three outlines, there are multiple ways in which company swag can boost your company’s culture and engagement.

Such benefits include enhancing your employer brand, welcoming new hires, uniting internal teams, promoting company values, and celebrating your employees. We don’t know about you, but those are some pretty compelling reasons for investing in some company swag.

Hold Weekly Meetings Where Everything But Business is Discussed

One way to improve engagement within your company is to encourage the discussion of non-business topics.  Employees tend to be more engaged at work when they actually know their coworkers well, as opposed to just knowing them in a strictly work capacity.

This Harvard Business Review article breaks down the “surprising power of simply asking coworkers how they’re doing.” According to the article, having the occasional personal conversation with your fellow employees can increase your sense of belonging, making it easier to build trust with their teams.

In addition, when teams get used to talking with each other, their internal communication will eventually become smoother over time.

One strategy for helping your employees get to know one another is by having weekly or even monthly meetings where teams get to go around and talk about what’s exciting in their life, what they are looking forward to, and how they are doing overall.

Start a Book Club

In line with the previous employee engagement idea, starting a book club is a fantastic initiative for encouraging conversation that isn’t work-related. If you do start a book club, make sure that everyone is involved in helping decide what book is going to be read/discussed. Otherwise, people may not be terribly interested in the reading material.

It’s also important to ensure the book club has some structure to it. Otherwise, it may fall apart halfway through. For example, meet at the same time every week or month and make sure everyone brings at least a couple of discussion questions to ask the group.

This excellent article, courtesy of The Predictive Index, outlines how to start a workplace book club, as well as some of the other benefits of a book club (such as building camaraderie and soft skills).

It’s important to note that it isn’t necessary to choose a business-related book. It can be a bestselling fiction book, a biography, or anything else that the participants are interested in reading together. 

Working Remotely? Offer More Autonomy For Your Employees

If you and your employees are working remotely and still want to keep them engaged and productive at work, loosen up on the structure of their work schedules. COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of just about everyone in some shape or form—especially for your employees who have kids. By offering more autonomy on when your employees work, you can help reduce the stress of taking care of their kids. 

Working from home isn’t for everyone. Some people are more productive while they are working remotely, others not so much. For this reason, it’s important to let employees figure out what works best for them while they work from home. For example, some people are more productive at night or after work hours. As long as they are online and responding to emails or Slack messages during the regular 9-5 hours, you should give those employees the option to work in the evening hours if that is when they are at their best. 

Or, if their workweek is disrupted from needing to homeschool their kids, give them the flexibility to log their hours during the weekend. It’s important to be empathetic during these times, and offering more autonomy is one way to do just that

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Tamara W.
Tamara pulls no punches as our own Captain Marvel of Branding.

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