Employee engagement is especially key in today’s world. A world where The Great Resignation and quiet quitting aren’t just trends on social media but real actions taken nationwide. Faced with burnout and hustle culture, employees simply aren’t engaged enough to tackle tasks they aren’t compensated for.
As the workplace has changed, so has employee engagement. With a new focus on work-life balance and the unique circumstances facing remote workers and their managers, how do you keep your team engaged?
We’ll cover 50 employee engagement ideas to help boost your employees’ satisfaction — from onboarding to mentorship and learning.
Employee engagement is the dedication and commitment an employee has to their team or organization and its goals. A disengaged employee could do the bare minimum to get by or even talk badly about the company or their team outside work hours. (Or even during work hours.)
To compare, an engaged employee will go the extra mile to get things done, usually without being asked. This could look like working after hours to ensure their part of a project is completed or taking another call even though their day ends in five minutes.
That’s right, employees don’t always just work to take home a paycheck. An engaged employee usually exhibits higher quality work and productivity. This is a huge benefit to the team and business since these qualities often deliver better customer satisfaction and more sales.
Lastly, employee engagement isn’t the same as company culture, but a supportive culture is a key part of strong employee engagement.
Bottom line up front: Engagement is important because it has a major, positive effect on company success. It reduces employee turnover, which is estimated to cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 per employee.
Engagement also boosts productivity and employee performance, which in turn affects the experiences your customers have with your products and services.
Plus, engaged employees feel more satisfied at work and are more likely to recommend their company as a great place for others to work. That’s almost like having an unpaid hiring team chasing talented workers for you.
Along with benefitting their team and organization, engaged employees positively impact business outcomes. According to Gallup, employee engagement contributed to a 23% boost in profitability, along with the following:
Before you jump into this list of employee engagement ideas, remember that engagement is only half the puzzle. Successful companies also dedicate time and effort to creating an open, collaborative, and supportive work culture.
Here are 50 different employee engagement strategies that can boost performance and retention.
Company values shouldn’t be discussed on day one — they should be part of the interview and onboarding processes. This helps your new hire and your team ensure a match in terms of values. It also makes the company’s north star exceptionally clear so new employees can jump in with an idea of team initiatives and their role in the company’s success.
Set your new hires up for success by setting 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals. Allow them a chance to brainstorm what their goals should be after 90 days as well.
Not everything has to be set in stone, but providing them guidance on a productivity level and accomplishments to aim for can keep them on track the moment they start.
Pairing new team members up with a buddy gives them a chance to get to know a coworker. It’s also a great opportunity for them to learn about the company, its processes, expectations, and culture from a peer’s perspective.
When choosing a buddy, it may help to look for someone in a similar role (or a level higher than the new hire’s role) who works in a different department. This can lead to mentorship and a chance to chat with someone your new hire wouldn’t otherwise see every day.
Not everyone is prepared to lead a team, and others might appreciate a refresher. Ensure new hires are set up for success by giving their leaders the tools and training they need.
And if a new hire is filling a management role, show them how your company approaches leadership, the tools you use, and your expectations for managers. This training provides clarity and can also streamline any transitions as a new manager jumps in to lead their team.
Give new hires a leg up on learning about their coworkers. Let your team create a page in a profile “book” and share a little bit about themselves.
This could include a short bio, fun facts, family members’ names, and photos. It can also be a great way for your team to “meet” the new hire before day one.
Along with any necessary tech and company swag, send the newest member of your team thoughtful extras before their start date. You can go so far as to survey each new hire before they start to find out about their likes, dislikes, food allergies, and hobbies.
For example, send an employee who loves cats a cat-themed laptop bag. A new team member who loves a good joke might love a joke-a-day calendar. And almost everyone enjoys a gift card to a local coffee shop.
Before your new teammate signs on their first day, send them a short best-self survey. A best-self survey asks employees how they like to receive recognition, what motivates them, and how they work best with others.
Their survey responses can fill in a lot of the blanks in terms of how to keep them engaged. For example, let’s say a new hire says that they prefer private praise instead of company-wide recognition. That’s a great heads up before you shout them out in Slack for a job well done on their first week.
The flexibility to set your own work schedule is top of mind these days, and it’s clear why. Most employees appreciate managers who trust them to get their work done even when events and appointments disrupt the normal 9 to 5 workday. And once given, trust is more easily reciprocated.
Flexibility doesn’t just foster trust, either. In its latest report on benefits in the workplace, Aflac noted that 27% of employees ranked flexible scheduling as the number one most helpful benefit when dealing with burnout.
Data on the state of employee mental health is sobering. According to a survey by Lyra Health, 31% of employees said their mental health declined in 2021. Unsurprisingly, mental health issues affect employees both at home and at work.
Along with providing access to mental health care as part of your benefits package, it can also be beneficial to include a wellness stipend.
One way to ensure this stipend benefits everyone is to let your workers choose how they prefer to care for their mental and physical well-being. Some may choose gym memberships and virtual trainers, while others may need a spa day or a delivery of healthy foods. Programs like Holisticly and BucketList let employees choose benefits that matter most to them.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “Actions speak louder than words?” Employee engagement efforts don’t mean a thing if leadership doesn’t follow the advice, values, and culture they preach.
Leading by example also plays into employees’ well-being. If you encourage taking time off but force yourself to work while sick or never take a vacation, your employees are sure to notice. This could mean they’ll feel forced to work while sick or believe they have to skip out on that once-in-a-lifetime trip — which could lead to faster burnout.
Most of us are bombarded by negative news daily. Keep this in mind when engaging with your employees. If you feel the team is getting bogged down by current events, set a date for a team-wide or company-wide day (or week) off.
Another approach to acknowledge and accommodate unique circumstances and overall mental health is to allow hybrid or remote work. A survey by Condeco showed that 69% of employees believe hybrid work shows that their company cares about their emotional and mental well-being. A belief that the company is looking out for them leads to more engaged employees.
Traditional management focused on employee presence in the office — but times, they are a-changin’. What was once the typical approach to employee work expectations is now a quick way to foster disengagement.
Instead of focusing on butts in seats and time logged, set more value on results.
Sales metrics and KPIs are great outcomes to keep tabs on and share with employees. You could even make a game of monitoring and measuring these outcomes. Companies like Arcade allow you to view KPIs on a public leaderboard so team members can compete with each other.
Don’t make a task tedious if it doesn’t have to be. Make sure you set aside time and budget to research, purchase, and conduct training on tools that help your team automate their tasks. And be open to employee feedback about pain points and needs for new tools.
Automation is especially key as a team grows. The more people you add, the more likely they’re outgrowing current processes and tools.
For certain roles and certain workers, there’s nothing worse than getting interrupted while in their flow state. And rightly so, since your flow state boosts your motivation, productivity, and performance.
To protect flow states and allow for quiet time, remind employees that they can set focus time on their calendars. For teams that use Google Calendar, there’s already an option for Focus Time built-in.
If you work in an office, ensure your team has access to a quiet physical space when they need to find their flow.
Showing you care about your employees as individuals can greatly boost their engagement. If you know an employee is dealing with a family issue or is under the weather, why not send a care package?
This could be as simple as having flowers delivered or mailing a handwritten note. Or you could go all out with a box full of tea, a mug, and a book. If you’re fresh out of ideas, try using a customizable care package service like Care Crates or Knack.
If you know an employee celebrates a certain holiday that’s not typically on the office calendar, make sure you consider this when planning events and projects. Being mindful of other cultures and celebrations shows you genuinely care about your employees and their work-life balance.
For example, let’s say your team is about to make a huge push to finish a project. You know the lead engineer requested time off to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the festival at the end of Ramadan, in the middle of the project sprint. Instead of hustling to wrap things up and forcing your teammate to work on this holiday, you could push the sprint back a day.
Who says you can’t get a bit of fresh air and exercise while you meet? Encourage your team to walk together when meetings are necessary. Remote team members can hop on a treadmill or take a stroll around the block while calling into Zoom.
However they do it, getting up from the desk and moving their bodies can have a profoundly positive effect on your employees. According to Prevention, this can include:
Regular feedback is critical for employee engagement. Gallup found that employees who hear daily feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged at work. But feedback should go both ways.
When conducting formal employee check-ins, your HR department can invite workers to fill out a small survey about their managers. The information should then be anonymously shared with managers. 360-degree feedback can help flag any potential relationship issues as well as provide guidance for managers to improve.
Sending out surveys on a regular basis to see how your team is doing can give you a head start when addressing issues with job satisfaction or general moods.
For example, you could send out a survey asking workers how confident they are regarding remaining employed at the company. This could bring to light concerns about recent industry layoffs, giving you a chance to address them before things come to a head.
These surveys don’t need to be comprehensive. Companies like Tinypulse let you send out a weekly survey with one question that employees can answer via email or Slack.
How do your employees prefer to be communicated with? If you don’t know, ask them. Rather than have your entire team adapt to your communication style, it’s much easier for you to adapt to theirs.
Customizing how you communicate with your team also shows a commitment to listening and a depth of care.
Don’t wait for the exit interview to find out why employees are unhappy. Check in with workers at least once a year to make sure they’re happy in their roles and on their team. Ask what could be improved. This is often called a stay interview, and it can help boost retention.
As a leader, you can help your employees through tough times by listening to their stay interview answers and adjusting priorities, responsibilities, and career paths. This is especially key during turbulent times such as company-wide layoffs or leadership changes.
Show your employees you’ve noticed their effort with regular praise. But be mindful of how you share it — those who lean toward introversion may appreciate a quick message in Slack, while those who are more comfortable with it might love a company-wide shoutout.
A best-self survey is a great way to find out how your team members prefer to receive praise. We recommended sending this out to new hires, but you should also send it to existing team members to get a peg on their personal preferences.
ShouldItBeAMeeting.com notes that most employees spend 45% of their work week in meetings. Yikes.
Instead of taking up valuable time, ask yourself if you really need to meet or if you could get an answer or share information through email or Slack. If you aren’t sure, go through the quick questionnaire on the Should It Be a Meeting site to find out.
Let employees know when the company is facing rough times, or change is on the horizon. Similarly, share triumphs with employees. And most of all, admit when you don’t have the answers. (But commit to finding the answers and checking back in.)
Asking for employee input takes this to another level. When employees know they can contribute, they tend to feel more valued by leadership instead of like just another cog in the machine.
Did you just get off the phone with a customer who absolutely raved about the service one of your team members provided? Let them know!
Showing your team the positive impact their hard work has on customers and clients lets them know they make a difference. It helps them see their value — and they’ll know you see it too.
Keep it simple: Simple sales compensation plans are cheaper, easier to administer, and yield better results than complex plans.
Between leading meetings, providing employee feedback, and sharing news with higher-ups, managers tend to do a lot of talking. Why not take some of that off your shoulders and give someone else a chance to sit in the spotlight by leading a meeting?
Allowing others to run the show gives them visibility and lets other team members get to know them a bit better. It’s also great practice for anyone who hopes to grow in their career. Public speaking is known to help employees improve their pitching, networking, and leadership skills.
According to Harvard Business School, involving your team when it comes to making decisions boosts engagement, among other benefits. Giving your workers a chance to provide input on potential solutions and decisions shows you trust and value their knowledge.
Collaborating with your team on decisions can also lead to more creative solutions and improved buy-in — it also helps cover any blind spots you might have as a manager.
What’s better than praise and awards from management? Praise and awards from peers and management too! It’s true — awards help improve morale and employee satisfaction.
Ask your team to develop an awards program where coworkers can nominate each other for a job well done, a neverending positive attitude, or for exhibiting company values. The award could be as simple as a silly trophy, small gift, swag, or a day off.
A monthly Q&A session with the CEO or company president is an excellent way for employees to hear news directly from the source. It also allows employees to bring their most pressing questions forward and have them answered on the spot (or as a follow-up if more research is needed).
A Q&A helps employees feel heard, and it shows that the leadership cares about their individual concerns for the company, their roles, and their teams.
As employees grow in their careers, they may aim to achieve new skills or even pivot their entire career focus to a new role. Instead of discouraging this, offer chances for interested workers to shadow their peers.
This also gives the person being shadowed a chance to mentor their peer and gain valuable teaching skills.
Like we just mentioned, mentorship goes both ways. Some employees may enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. A summer internship program is an excellent way for your team to teach college-age adults. (And teaching others improves knowledge retention.)
Bonus: A summer internship program is also an opportunity to identify potential new employees if your interns make a lasting positive impression.
Show your team that you care about their professional growth by setting aside a learning fund. This could be a stipend or reimbursement for classes and seminars or a group subscription to an online learning platform like Udemy or Skillshare.
If your employees complete a professional development course, ask if they’d be interested in hosting a lunch ‘n’ learn to share their new knowledge. This is a great way to reinforce their new skills through teaching and help their peers grow.
You could also ask incoming new hires if they’d be interested in hosting a training session. For example, let’s say a new marketing specialist joined your team, and they have years of experience in SEO. You could ask them to host a 30-minute intro to the topic for interested teammates.
From day one, you should know where your employees want their careers to go. Some may dream of managing their own team someday, while others may look to move up the ranks but remain individual contributors.
If you don’t know what your workers’ aspirations are, sit them down and ask. This is a great conversation to repeat regularly — their career dreams have likely changed since you last spoke.
One of the joys of having a diverse workforce is learning about other cultures and ways of life. If your employees feel comfortable sharing, you could ask them to share an aspect of their personal life that others may not know much about.
This doesn’t have to be a formal presentation. It could be a simple Slack message explaining the history of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, or an email with information and links about Trans Awareness Week.
If your team isn’t all fully remote, it’s critical that your employees who aren’t in the office feel welcome.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to forget about the face on the video call and focus on the physical people around you. Make it a point to ask remote employees if they have questions or anything to add during meetings. And ensure that all communications are shared on Slack, email, or in video recordings so remote workers don’t miss out on important details.
Speaking of communicating with remote teammates, it’s worth embracing asynchronous communication. This type of communication requires an employee to tackle their part of a project, document everything as they work, then pass that documentation and the project on to the next person. There’s no requirement for in-the-moment collaboration.
Asynchronous workflows and communication are a huge benefit to teams spread across time zones. It also supports a flexible workplace culture and has been shown to boost productivity and efficiency.
Staying on top of who’s working when ensures your remote employees can maintain their work-life balance. While it may be 10 a.m. on a weekday for you, it could be Saturday for an employee across the world.
You can set up Slack and Google Calendar to show time zones so that everyone knows who’s working and who’s on after-work hours. You can also check out apps like Clockwise that sync with your calendar and automatically set your Slack status to Do Not Disturb or lunchtime.
Hosting a team lunch? This is a great chance to let your team get to know each other on a more personal level. And your remote workers don’t need to miss out.
Sometimes it’s nice to give employees a chance to casually chat. A virtual coffee or tea time can be a great place to talk about anything that’s on their minds right at this moment. The best thing is, coffee or tea time doesn’t need to be formal or planned.
If your days are too busy to host a tea-time chat, try an optional happy hour once the day is done. Share drink recipes ahead of time, or send your team a happy hour kit so they can mix their own beverages.
Pets just love to crash video calls, so why not invite them to the stage? Employees love to meet their peers’ furry friends, and pets are an excellent icebreaker to get the conversation going.
Best of all, scientific studies show that seeing pets on a video call can improve well-being. (And there’s no need to worry about allergies.)
There’s a reason why almost every team has cracked open Jackbox Party Packs during virtual get-togethers. Multiplayer games like Quiplash and Drawful are a fun way to break the ice, get everyone giggling, and feel the whole (virtual) room relax.
Last but certainly not least, it’s important to do your best to ensure remote employees are set up for success. Offer a home office stipend so newly remote employees can purchase an ergonomic desk chair, monitor, or even a standing desk to go with the tech you’re sending them.
If your employees are comfortable in their workspace, they’re likely to be more productive.
Bonding time helps employees feel more like a team. And what better way to bond than over tasty food you made yourself?
Book an in-person class with Sur la Table, or invite a remote team to join from their kitchens with a virtual cooking class. Other online cooking classes include Home Cooking New York, The Table Less Traveled, and MasterClass.
Put your team’s problem-solving skills to the test with an escape room challenge. Not only will workers get to show off their trivia skills, but everyone involved gets a chance to improve their collaboration and communication skills.
For the hybrid or remote team, try a virtual escape room for an experience that’s just as fun. The Shelburne Museum in Vermont offers two free online escape rooms, while Trapped in the Web offers multiple escape room scenarios with no time limits. (Perfect for a casual approach with plenty of time for chit-chat.)
Is your office near interesting sights or relaxation spots? Take a half day and carpool over for a workday field trip.
Book a tour of a local museum, go on a downtown foodie tour, or relax on the beach with volleyball and a team Spotify playlist.
Does your company have required reading on the onboarding agenda? Or maybe more than a few employees have Simon Sinek’s Start With Why or Carol Dweck’s Mindset on their To-Be-Read list?
Starting a book club is a fun way for workers to learn from each other during weekly discussions. Rotating the book club leadership is another way to give employees a way to stretch their skills. (If they run out of questions to get the group chatting, there are always cheat sheets like this set of book club questions from Oprah.)
Picking a mascot lets the team flex their decision-making skills. It also gives them a character or ideal to rally behind.
Team mascots can even influence future company swag or become a matter of pride when competing against other teams in friendly competition.
Don’t let your team’s KPIs sit in a stale old spreadsheet. Help employees visualize where they’re at and where they need to be with a virtual leaderboard.
With tools like Arcade, managers can even set challenges for individuals or teams to boost productivity and motivation. Paired with instant feedback in the form of a real-time leaderboard, gamification is an easy way to boost employee engagement.
See how gamification can boost your team’s engagement
Keeping your employees engaged doesn’t have to be an uphill battle. With a little fun, a bit of creativity, and a lot of acknowledgment, you can show your team you truly care about their success.