9 Employee Engagement Activities & Ideas for Managers
Today’s workplace is a complex environment. The many avenues for excitement and pleasure are not helping employees instinctively focus on their work. Job adverts are essentially omnipresent, so the average manager has to commit extra time and resources to secure worker focus and loyalty.
Employee engagement activities are a safe bet against unforeseen circumstances in the workplace. Progressive organizations invest time and money into engaging activities that will boost worker morale. After all, more engagement means stronger employee commitment which leads to increased productivity.
So, here are a handful of interesting activities that you will find helpful and effective in your workplace.
1. Workplace Get-Togethers
Nothing like get-togethers in the workplace to get your employees in a relaxed and interactive mood. This is the kind of informal environment that is good for your workers and great for their attachment to the organization.
Many companies organize regular social gatherings and downright small-scale carnivals for their employees. The purpose is to improve interrelations among the colleagues, as well as between the workers and the administration.
These activities are healthy and help to smoothen rough patches that emerge during the course of regular work. Clinking glasses, in this context, places the stopper on workplace friction.
2. Games and Tournaments
Organizing games and tournaments for workers is another common strategy that you can use to engage your employees. The objective here is to stimulate their competitive sides and construct solidarity.
The best thing about these games and tournaments is that they can be indoors (within the premises of the organization) or outdoors. These offer you many options to boost your workers’ participation.
The competitions can take a variety of forms. For instance, gaming is particularly popular among ‘hard-core’ organizations. Others prefer passive activities that nonetheless bond employees.
The only rule is that your workers must love what you come up with. You can even organize a contest to measure who can get a task done the fastest. The choice is yours.
3. Special Days
It is almost an organizational custom these days to have special days. During these intervals, you and your employees can choose to be laidback while still performing your duties. It is as a result of this strategy that certain days of the week, for example, Monday, require you to ‘suit up!’ Other days, for example, Fridays, allow you to be casually dressed.
Another example of such special days involves taking someone or something to work. Your employees can bring their children to work on these special days. They can bring their pets to work on these special days. Really, it doesn’t matter as much whoever and whatever accompanies them to work. At the end of the day, they share a bit more of their private lives with their co-workers and you.
4. Workplace Training
Workplace training is far more popular today than any of the aforementioned activities for engaging employees. Sometimes, the focus of the training is on updating social skills, rather than upgrading work skills. They often end up doing so anyway.
Training sessions can take different forms. Seminars are common but not compulsory. You can have in-house training where employees learn about what their co-workers in other units do. This engenders inclusiveness and a deeper understanding of the destination and dynamics of the organization.
As an aside: you have to be creative on this front. Workplace training is notorious for being boring. It might not be very effective in engaging your workers. Therefore, you have to think up engaging ideas and implement them thoughtfully.
Sports and sporting events are also very flexible activities that boost employee engagement and promote teamwork. Your workers are likely to have different favorites as per sports icon or category. Some might enjoy soccer, while others are bowling buffs. Nonetheless, the variety of sports categories makes for interesting dialog among employees.
With the impression that you can secure an employee’s loyalty when you have deeper ties with their family, sporting activities can bridge many gaps. You can express your preferences and have them appraise you. That is rapport.
Also, you can engage in sports together, organize competitions between departments, etc. As long as your employees are willing to get involved in these activities, you are on the right track. In the rare event that they are not willing, you have to think up alternatives.
6. Fundraisers and Campaigns
Money-raising activities offer you a gold mine of opportunities to know and engage your workers. As most of these campaigns are usually built around specific needs, you get to find out how committed your employees are to certain ideals.
Where the campaign revolves around a goal of the company, you can get your employees to occupy visible positions during the event. Let them be the organizers and let them handle the invitations and arrange the music.
The benefits of letting your employees take over fund-raisers abound. You get to find out which of them have a knack for these things and which do not. This is essentially a crash course in elementary and promotional marketing. You have nothing to lose.
Moreover, you will find out from their donations what your employees’ levels of commitment to company goals are. You can use this information to stimulate further dedication, as well as reward them later.
7. Out-of-Office Engagement
Out-of-office activities are designed to get employees out of the building. In industries with stringent standards for work, employees might end up developing mental blocks. One can only do so much stuck in a cubicle for eight or more hours daily.
Schools are not the only institutions that run exchange programs. You can form an alliance with other companies (within the same industry) to broaden and sharpen employees’ skillsets. Besides the obvious advantages of learning and comparison, this will also keep you on your toes on how you manage your staff and pay attention to them.
Also, excursions to parks, museums, etc., can engage employees in ways that sporting events and social gatherings cannot.
Luncheons are the equivalent of indoor parties in the context of employee engagement. They don’t usually cost as much as outdoor garden or park meetings. They only require you to sit your workers around long tables and get them to interact.
Luncheons are an engaging activity. Bonding over food, drink, and music provides your employees with opportunities to form convivial cliques. These relationships may eventually blossom into lasting friendships that enhance workplace harmony in your organization.
A bit of advice: do not make these meetings a regular event or one of the cultures of your organization. They have a tendency to get rowdy and subvert the goal. So, keep them few and far between.
Award shows for employees are always a big way to motivate them to commit to their work and do better. As the events are generally held at the end of the year, employees have about 11 months to stoke the flames of competition.
This anticipation, the feeling of looking forward to awards of recognition, is enough motivation to protect your organization from lazy employees. Moreover, as you reward diligence and innovation, you end up nurturing a crop of high-performance employees.
This is the best workforce any organization can ask for. Also, this activity costs relatively little since it is an annual event.
Employee Engagement in the Workplace
The fundamental basis for employee engagement is building a healthy workplace ecosystem. This environment will have both the goals of your organization and the interests of your employees at the core. Viewed this way, the concept ensures a two-way link that everybody benefits from.
Engaged employees are generally happy. These kinds of workers are far more likely to agree to a reasonable task than those who are neither engaged nor happy. They are also better for your organization than employees that aren’t engaged but are seemingly happy. Satisfaction with work, co-workers, the management, and the organization at large breeds happiness in the workplace.
With employees who are engaged, you will no longer need to worry about handing out to-do lists at the start of a workday. After all, effective workforce management typically requires excessive—but necessary—supervision.
How would you feel when you don’t have to do this and still retain tall curves on the productivity graph? This is why employee engagement is becoming increasingly popular among CEOs of small, medium, and big companies.
However, despite the many advantages of engaging employees, the process itself is not automatic. You will need to fold your sleeves, organize your thoughts and get to work. Only you can fix up a workplace environment that encourages the kind of employee dedication to duty, organizational goals, and productivity that you want.
What Is Employee Engagement?
Due to the prevalence of trends about the value and drivers of employee engagement, the term is almost a buzzword among business managers and corporate buffs. The trend is understandable, considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the global acceptance of remote work.
But what is the meaning of the concept? What are the factors responsible for its popularity?
In an article published on Forbes, LeadX CEO Kevin Kruse defined employee engagement as the emotional commitment that a worker has towards their organization and its goals. It is the level of dedication and loyalty that a person feels for you and your company. It also often translates to an employee’s willingness to commit to their work.
Healthy worker engagement indicates that your employees are dedicated to their duties, whether you are present or absent. This is usually demonstrated by their excitement, curiosity, and willingness to go the extra mile in the course of duty.
Another side to this concept is contained in the definition provided by Investopedia. The explanation given here is that employee engagement is a human resource (HR) concept that describes the level of enthusiasm and dedication a worker feels toward their job.
This second definition somewhat excludes the values and goals of the organization within which an employee functions. Instead, the focus is on the individual – how satisfied, eager, and interested they are with their work.
Based on these definitions, employee engagement can be captured within three frameworks. These include a commitment to the goals of an organization, the satisfaction of employees, and the overall growth of the organization.
Commitment to the Organization’s Goals
Employee engagement may be defined within the context of the commitment of your workers to the goals of your organization. Any task or endeavor that piques the interest of your workers to this effect is an effective employee engagement activity.
Employee Satisfaction and Gratification
Beyond getting your workers to commit to the goals of your organization, employee engagement is characterized by employee satisfaction. Thus, people also benefit from this concept as they find fulfillment and enjoyment from their work.
Organizational Growth and Development
For most managers, the overall objective of employee engagement is company growth and development. This is why worker engagement is also measured in these terms. Any strategy that meets this criterion, alongside the aforementioned conditions is an employee engagement technique.
Why Should You Engage Your Employees?
You might be wondering what the big deal is anyway. Are you not paying your employees for the hours they put into work? Are they not supposed to devote the best of themselves to meet the demands of their roles? Shouldn’t they commit to the organization’s goals and ensure its growth and development? Aren’t they supposed to be satisfied and happy with their work?
Well, not necessarily. The representation of the corporate world as a dog-eat-dog world implies many things. One of these is the unpredictability of employees and another is the prevalence of talent poaching.
Published reports emphasizing the value of employee engagement abound. The 2021 Engagement Report, for example, showed that employee engagement has increased significantly between 2018 and 2020. One implication is that employees are getting more involved and even asking for bigger roles.
Bersin by Deloitte’s 2015 High Impact Talent Management research reports that engagement activities that focus on diversity and inclusion tend to boost smart work and productivity. This includes all forms of productivity, including higher cash flow, greater levels of interaction among co-workers, and increased loyalty to the organization.
These factors, and several others like them, means that you have to commit time and funds to engage your employees. If you need further convincing, consider the following reasons:
To help employees see the big picture
Employee engagement has a way of helping your workers understand the inner workings of your organization. The corporate domain is famous for keeping things classified and confidential. This tends to alienate individuals at the lowest stratum of the organization. However, company-wide employee engagement takes care of this.
Inclusive worker engagement is like glue that holds the slices of a pie together. Everybody in your organization must, by definition, be involved in these activities. So, your employees get to learn about aspects and operations of your organization that are usually cryptic and unreachable.
This way, your employees view clips of the big picture. This grants them a deeper understanding of the organization. It is the same as letting them realize their roles and relevance.
To encourage ownership of duties
Employee engagement lets the members of your organization realize that they are key variables in the workplace. An average engaged employee would come to the understanding that their work is valued. Naturally, they will grow more confident in this position.
With great power comes great responsibility. As your employees become conscious of their place within the organization, they will own it. They might create mental cubicles around certain tasks. Such tasks will be their ‘corner’ of the organization—a place where they command the most respect.
To increase employee satisfaction
One word that comes to mind whenever employee engagement is mentioned is ‘care’. You know that your worker is engaged when they care about the organization. If an employee is adequately concerned about their role, you can be sure that they are satisfied.
Even for employees that only care about paychecks at the end of the month, engaging them has myriad benefits. In cases where engagement activities are fun and enjoyable, these employees get to harmonize with their colleagues.
Stronger workforce harmony is the same as a better relationship among your workers. When this happens, you can allocate tasks and have some employees augment the shortcomings of their colleagues.
To improve employee retention
Employee poaching has become a grim reality in the business world. Employees and employers from other organizations do not always adhere to corporate ethics. Moreover, with the high demands for greater workplace benefits, even the most loyal employee could ditch your wagon.
It is your responsibility to try as much as you can to hang on to your employees. Engaging them with specialized activities is one way to do this.
Employees that are regularly engaged are very likely to have close ties with their co-workers. These personal relationships ensure that your employees remain attached to their ‘cubicles’ and loyal to you.
To increase workplace harmony
Employee engagement offers all kinds of opportunities for collaboration and camaraderie. All employee engagement activities require two or more persons to work. More of these activities means more occasions for your workers to meet and greet. Even the most introverted employee will melt as a result of these activities.
The best kinds of employee engagement play to the strengths and weaknesses of workers. Your employees learn about themselves and their work while they have fun, compete and make a harmonious environment of their workplace.
To simplify managerial work
One of the biggest advantages of workplace engagement is that it makes your work as a manager very easy. This follows the fact that engagement activities make employees more intellectually and emotionally committed to your organization, their co-workers, and their responsibilities.
It is only when your employees are as committed to the goals of the organization as you are that you can rest easy. This reduces the burden of excessive supervision and increases the trust you have in your employees. It also increases their loyalty to you.
To boost employee motivation and morale
Higher motivation is probably the most referenced advantage of employee engagement. The reasoning here is that workers become inspired to work when you consistently encourage them. The fact that you care enough about their work to give them incentives also boosts their morale.
One report notes that employee morale can influence many areas of your organization. These include the attitudes of employees, their daily decisions, workplace safety, relationship with colleagues and management, attendance and punctuality, and overall productivity.
When you engage your workforce, you relax the steep curve of idleness in the workplace. One result of employee engagement here is a group of motivated employees who are driven to perform and surpass prior feats.
By the admissions of reports like these, more managers are looking up ideas to boost employee engagement activities in their organizations. Of course, you don’t want to be left behind.
Employee engagement is a concept that you will find very useful. It encourages interactions among the workers of an organization and increases their dedication to work. More company executives are using employee engagement activities to get the productive juices flowing. As a result, managers improve worker commitment and boost company productivity.