The Best Employee Engagement Ideas You Can Use for Your Business

11 min read
Sep 16, 2016
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Employee engagement ideas

Engagement is something we want to keep, that’s why we work on it all the time. For example in relationships, by doing things we might not like, just to make the other person happy. In business with customers, by sending monthly newsletters and reminding them about payments, to keep their interests in us. And finally at work, by coming up with different ideas to make employees happy and loyal to the company.

Engagement is something that makes people go further, do a little more, try a little harder. An engaged employee is valuable for a company and is ready to work hard to generate profit. That’s why organizations come up with different employee engagement ideas to keep their motivation high. Unless you run a temporary employment agency, employee rotation is not your thing. You want to focus on a company’s growth and to do that you need to have experienced, happy and ready to work employees. That’s the only way you can conquer the world with your business.

Let me help you with that by showing you a few employee engagement ideas that will keep your employees motivated in a long run – if you practice them daily.

Assign a buddy for every newcomer

The best way to experience the team spirit at the very beginning is to bond with someone from the team. People integrate quickly with each other during the projects they do together but also other activities, not related to work. In many cases, it’s smoking. Yes, that’s right.

Remember the episode of Friends TV Show when Rachel started to smoke because her manager smoked and immediately got integrated with her subordinates? These things happen. I’ve noticed in college, or at work that people who smoke integrate with each other super fast. After a few “work breaks", they make for a great group of friends.

Why is that? Well, they spend about half an hour a day together and talk about non work related things. This brings them closer.

Luckily, not everyone is a fan of cigarettes or is ready for a sacrifice like Rachel, so it’s a good idea to assign a person responsible for onboarding for every new member. It’s important for a new employee to have someone answer their questions. Those questions they would hesitate to ask a manager. Building a trustworthy relationship with someone who works in a company for a while can help guide the newcomer and adapt faster. They also feel a part of the team quicker. And no smoke is needed.

After a few weeks, people naturally join activities commonly performed in a company. They meet to play board games or basketball. But at the beginning, they need to have that one person that will introduce them to it.

Encourage personal projects

In high school we had something called “box of ideas" which was used to collect notes with ideas for improvements. Our ideas were discussed at the school management meeting and some of the better ideas were implemented.

Encouraging employees to come up with ideas on developing a product and growing a company is one of the best employee engagement activities. It can be development of a new product, or a marketing campaign idea for promoting your company. It might be a great opportunity for people to show their talents.

At LiveChat, Drego, our support hero, besides helping customers also hosts LiveChat webinars every once in a while. It’s an additional project that developes his interests and increases skills.

Besides that, there was a time when we made a Side Project Day once a month. For the whole day employees could put their everyday work aside and focus on their own projects regarding LiveChat. At the end of the day, they presented it to the whole company and some of the projects were continually developed.

It’s a nice way to encourage creativity, get new ideas, let employees develop their interests and keep them engaged. To make it all work, these engagement activities need to be optional. There’s nothing worse than having to work on something you don’t want while crucial work lies untouched.

Create a positive environment

No matter the industry you work in or the job you have – we are all hungry for honest appreciation. According to U.S. Department of Labor, the number one reason people leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated. If you want to keep employees motivated you need to add some appreciation to your management routine. Start noticing what your employees do good and let them know. Avoid phrases like “good job” because they are too overall. Tell them exactly what they did good so they can do more of it in the future.

Creating a positive working environment and showing employees they are valued team members fosters employee engagement.” Dale Carnegie Training Research Study.

My boss always comes to our room, he always shared some positive and uplifting stories or news. The kind of stories I could later share with my loved ones at home. Such atmosphere puts everyone in a good mood and keeps them engaged. If we like our bosses, we’re more likely to stick with the job we have. And if our bosses appreciate us, we are willing to put more effort into our work which of course pays off. That’s the way it works. Here’s more about employee appreciation.

Create team photos and team page

Having a wall with pictures of your teammates is a great idea to engage employees by making everyone feel they belong to a great team or sometimes even a second family. It also brings back good memories you had together, so it’s nice to stop and stare for it once in a while or show it to your guests at the company.

This little thing sometimes also can help people get through hard times at work. It might sound like not a big deal but if someone is having a little breakdown and maybe even thinks about quitting, when they look up at these pictures and think about the team, the emotions evoke and it makes them want to keep going, because of the amazing people they’re working with.

Besides having a “team wall”, it’s good to create a "meet the team” page. Employees can show this website to their friends and families to show off a little.

“Hey, check this out – I’m a part of this cool company. There’s a photo of me in this crazy outfit and few words about me.” It’s not only good for employee motivation but also for the brand itself. I wrote about the most creative meet the team pages I found online. Check it out, I hope it will be an inspiration for you.

Give proper feedback

I heard that the best way to deliver feedback is to praise somebody in public and to caution in private. Being a content writer is related to getting feedback. When I started, I got a lot of negative feedback that only made me feel more insecure. Like writing itself wouldn’t be hard enough. But people told me it’s supposed to be this way.

After few years of working, I (and the others I think) learned that the best way of giving and receiving feedback is through one on one meetings. Obviously some egregious issues should be handled immediately, but many other situations are better left addressed after some reflection.

Writing feedback is not nearly as effective as giving it face to face. There’s too much room for misunderstandings. We distort what others said, which sometimes causes many negative feelings. Talking face to face with no witness makes people more relaxed and honest. A true conversation can do miracles and really boost employee motivation.

Even if you deliver bad news, you can immediately talk about it and think how to make it all better. If this feedback would be delivered publicly, employees could feel threatened and could start defend themselves. This kind of feedback not only wouldn’t work out but it would also drop morale. And that’s the opposite of what you want to achieve with employee motivation.

Help people keep the work life balance

Work life balance is extremely hot topic lately. It’s probably because people are working longer these days and have less time to manage their private lives. People stay at the office after hours, answer emails in the evening from home, and during weekends they catch up on work. A good way to keep employees engaged is to let them have a life outside work.

Dale Carnegie Training Research Study found that when employees feel that their managers support their health and well-being, they feel more engaged at work. They are ready to go the extra mile for the company when they know their personal health is valued.

People who have a rich life outside work, time for pursuing their passions, to celebrate life with their families are satisfied, grateful and more engaged with their companies. Let’s take Verizon for example.

Verizon wants to provide its employees with as much convenience at work as possible. The office has an onsite gym employees can use to workout or take Pilates classes. Plus, Verizon encourages flexibility by managing a “Mobility at Work” program, which arms employees with the tools to work from home occasionally to support their out—of–work needs.

Autonomy is a great power of engagement and supporting employees in having lives outside of work is always reflecting positively in their achievements for the company.

Consider benefits

Now here’s the part where companies can use their imagination. And the sky is the limit. Just kidding, you don’t want to spoil your employees too much, otherwise they will start coming to work just for fun. We need to have the sense of proportion in everything. This applies for working hours and benefits as well. But supporting employees in healthy lifestyle, healthy eating, work breaks and giving them time to go on vacation will bring great return in investment.

For example OwnLocal invests in employees professionally emotionally and physically. Since the very beginning, each employee is fitted with a Fitbit pedometer that tracks steps and calories to encourage a healthy lifestyle. Side effects? A friendly company competition to see who can rack up the most steps. Now, that’s the competition I like.

The next example is almost hard to believe but Airbnb encourages its employees to travel globally and often. Every employee is given $2,000 per year to travel anywhere in the world! I guess they also love good food since they have a large open kitchen where a personal chef cooks up a feast every day for Airbnb employees.

Now, going back to earth. If you have a small business, you can still help employees by taking care of them. Observe and ask if their computers are working probably or maybe they need something to make their work easier, like headphones or air conditioning? These small things also have a big influence on employee engagement and are actually the base to start with. If you are too busy t, you can always assign a person responsible to deliver this info to you.

Shorten the distance

Your employees should know best what’s happening inside the company. In start–ups all employees know what’s going on, which customers their management is pitching or what the plans for the future are. When people are involved, they feel more engaged in the company’s life and they are more willing to work for its success.

On the other hand, there are corporations, where the distance between management and employees is sometimes so big, employees barely see the outcome of their work. It makes them feel like machines, not valued and needed employees. They are not engaged and they quickly burn out.

To address this issue, it’s important to have fluent communication with employees and keep the transparency of work. Employees talk to managers about their work but management also shares the news about business progress and say exactly how employees contributed to it. It creates reciprocity and some sort of bond, we are all working for the success of the company, so the engagement rises.

Ideas for employee engagement

I could still be going because it seems that there’s so much a company can do to motivate their employees. There are a lot of benefits a company can reward an employee, depending on the type of industry they are in.

Whatever you choose for your company, remember that a little appreciation, a small talk, birthday wishes, team meetings after work and some help when employees need it the most can do miracles. These are things that require empathy and no paycheck or bonus can’t compare.

The most important thing is the relationship between people and the atmosphere in the workplace. Are your employees appreciated, do they get regularly feedback, do they feel a part of the team? If you’re able to create this kind of family bond in your company, people will want to be with you. Not only on a team picture, but in real life, working day by day together.