33 employee engagement ideas for a happy & driven team
Remote work has taken the world by storm and made people rethink their goals and priorities. It comes with many benefits, but one remote work challenge costs employers a great deal of time and money: keeping your team engaged.
With hybrid and remote work being the new norm, communication often happens with online tools — but they lack the authenticity of a quick watercooler chat. Employers invested in building people-first cultures must rethink strategies to keep engagement rates high and staff turnover rates low in the era of The Great Resignation*.
To stay ahead of the curve, you need to invest in employee engagement — that’s why we’ve compiled a list of our top 33 employee engagement ideas for a happy and driven team.
*Harvard Business Review, 2022
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33 ways to boost employee engagement
1. Measure engagement & be consistent
The first step in understanding how engagement affects productivity and revenue is deciding which metrics are most relevant for your company to track. Remember that measuring engagement isn’t a one-time task.
Start measuring employee engagement through surveys before employing the ideas below; this way, you can track engagement over time and understand what works and doesn’t.
Monitoring metrics like Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) and performing sentiment analysis can help you turn survey data into insights — and employee engagement measuring tools like Leapsome can help you automate this process.
2. Dish out recognition
Your employees want to be seen, heard, and valued. When team members know their work is appreciated and rewarded with recognition, it’s easier to engage and motivate them.
According to a Harvard Business Review survey, 72% of organizations suggest that employee recognition directly affects employee engagement — so be generous with compliments and don’t hold back on praise.
3. Keep communicating
Companies with employee engagement woven into their cultures communicate with their staff often and openly. By letting team members know the why, what, how, when, and where of things, you ensure everyone stays in the loop.
Simply communicating policy updates to your employees isn’t enough. Tell your people why a policy needs updating, when the changes will come into effect, and what the adjustments will mean for employees.
Make maximum use of remote work software like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and calendar apps (Leapsome integrates with all three) to keep your employees updated. Even if your communication is async, active, company-wide participation of all employees is crucial.
4. Create a feedback-safe environment
By building an environment where employees feel safe to give and receive feedback, you’re creating space for honest and actionable input. We recommend keeping the survey process anonymous to make employees feel extra comfortable sharing their unfiltered opinions.
Promoting psychological safety at work fosters openness and encourages employees to speak up. A feedback culture designed on honesty and transparency helps employees feel comfortable sharing their views and taking in constructive criticism.
If you want further guidance, Leapsome’s step-by-step guide on creating a culture of feedback will help you incorporate ongoing feedback into your daily processes.
5. Provide flexible work hours
“The way we all work is going to change. One of the biggest barriers to employment in the coming years will be the rise of technology. But there is a middle ground to be found, which will end the 9-to-5.”
— Richard Branson, Founder and Chairman of the Virgin Group
Your employees are adults hired to do their jobs well. Trust in them to make that happen. If productivity is your concern, here’s one more reason to let your employees pick their hours: 43% of remote work employees agree that flexible work hours have helped them achieve greater productivity.
Simply put, people have lives outside of work; their productivity increases when you understand and value that. Not all jobs lend themselves to flexible hours — but deciding on core working hours with some wiggle room can help your people feel in control and improve job satisfaction rates.
6. Make hybrid work or remote working an option
Airbnb’s CEO and founder, Brian Chesky announced that all Airbnb employees are free to choose where they work, quickly resulting in 800,000 people flocking to the company’s careers page. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise when 97% of all employees want some form of remote work setup.
Allowing employees to work remotely lets them spend quality time with their families, engage in activities outside of work, participate in community service, improve work-life balance, and be active members of society — all while getting their job done when it best suits them.
7. Assign a buddy to new hires
Many people feel lonely and lost during their first week at a new job. They might have questions, not know who to ask, and feel awkward reaching out to colleagues.
Letting your new employees tag along with a veteran buddy can help them feel at ease and transition smoothly into their role.
Someone easy to talk to, fun to be around, and who knows a thing or two about the new hire’s role would be the ideal “buddy.” Buddies can show new employees around the office, make quick introductions, and check in throughout their first weeks.
8. Discourage working overtime
If your employees work several hours of overtime per week, the problem is about way more than just productivity.
Here’s how you can reduce the need for people to work overtime, ultimately bringing down burnout rates:
- Give your employees clear instructions
- Set reasonable deadlines
- Offer managerial support
- Set an example by asking management to log off after work hours
- Check in with employees regularly working overtime and offer assistance
9. Encourage individuality
Your employees aren’t cogs in a machine — they’re human beings capable of great things. Unfortunately, many workers cover up parts of their identity to fit into the professional world.
As an employer, you can promote a healthy space for everyone by setting an example through senior leadership, highlighting individual talent, encouraging contrasting views, facilitating discussions, and embracing diversity.
10. Engage in team-building exercises
The same old “two truths and a lie” and “building blocks” team-building activities don’t cut it anymore. You can spice things up by trying out exercises that are fun and engaging. Here are some we find interesting:
- Circles of feedback or appreciation
- Workplace Pictionary (a word-guessing game)
- Cultural celebration parties
- Virtual team lunches
- Game nights
- Community service
11. Encourage 1:1 meetings
1:1 meetings are an excellent way for employees to talk to their managers privately, exchanging feedback and digging deep into their goals and ambitions.
Our 1:1 meeting template can help you design your 1:1s with intention and increase their efficiency.
💡 Keep in mind: Some of your employees may struggle with anxiety and prefer that you share a meeting agenda with them beforehand, so they can prepare properly. That’s just one reason why it’s a good idea to structure meetings in advance.
12. Give added responsibility, not a to-do list
When employees ask for more responsibility, assign tasks that encourage ownership and let them think creatively. Work satisfaction and ownership are correlated, and letting your people have a say in what they do (and how they do it) can motivate them to do better.
Here’s an example of how you can differentiate tasks vs. responsibilities:
- Task: Follow the existing standard operating procedure (SOP) to design an infographic
- Responsibility: Curate a style guide with infographic examples and best practices. Update the existing SOP with relevant changes. Come up with a proposal to streamline this process.
13. Support professional development
Does your marketing associate think picking up a few design skills will add value to their work?
Set up a path inside our Learning module and encourage them to pursue their goals. This helps employers personalize professional development and keep track of staff’s goals.
14. Recognize & reward employees
If some of your employees are going above and beyond at work (e.g., being creative and uplifting team spirit), show them you value their contributions. By recognizing and rewarding people’s efforts, you’ll boost morale and establish a culture of employee recognition.
Here are some ways you can reward your stand-out employees:
- A handwritten thank-you note
- Company goodie box
- Free lunch/dinner coupon
Our article on how to give employees recognition and appreciation also offers many other ideas.
15. Give away goodies
People love useful and thoughtful goodies! Send your new hires goodie boxes when they join the team and watch them sport their company t-shirt to every team event.
Here are some great swag ideas:
- Company t-shirts — but complete with company logo and employee name
- Work-from-home utility kit with essentials like headphones, a neck pillow, and a reusable coffee cup
- The employee’s favorite quote or an inside joke printed on a mug
16. Organize company-wide retreats
Organizing a week-long company retreat is an incredible way to engage remote team members; deep conversations and bonding are bound to take place when your employees are in close proximity with each other for a few days. Company events also facilitate cross-team collaboration and help employees learn each other’s strengths and talents.
If budget’s an issue, engage your employees with virtual happy hours or leadership weeks. The agenda can be to have fun or work collaboratively — or both!
🌳 Don’t forget about the environment while you have fun.
Try to adopt sustainable practices while on a company retreat and be aware of your carbon footprint. Leapsome is carbon-neutral, and we urge you to be too.
17. Send out internal newsletters
Remote work can make casual chats less frequent, so updates about what’s happening in other departments can be hard to come by.
A great way to bridge that gap is with internal newsletters, and here’s what you can include in them:
- Departmental progress and roundups
- Individual shoutouts for excellent work
- Team success celebrations
- Inside jokes
- Introducing new hires
- Internal announcements
- Policy updates
18. Broadcast impact recaps
If your employees are working on something that affects other team members or your customers directly, show them their work matters.
Say the customer success team performed exceptionally well that quarter; acknowledge team members for their hard work in your company-wide newsletter and praise them publicly.
When people see how their work impacts other people, they tend to perform better. Our feedback and praise feature promotes a feedback culture and helps you recognize employees for their great work.
19. Organize a “day in the life of…” event
A “day in the life of…” event helps employees wear different hats and puts them in someone else’s shoes for the day. It can be a two-day affair: the first is dedicated to training, and the second, to doing.
Activities like these help new hires understand the complexities of working in other departments and stimulate conversation. For longer-standing employees, it can deepen their understanding of their colleagues’ day-to-day roles and responsibilities and build empathy.
20. Promote corporate volunteer activities
Once a year, encourage your employees to come together and spend a workday at a local charity. Employees who frequently participate in company volunteer activities are twice as likely to rate their company culture as very positive.
This employee engagement strategy highlights companies’ corporate social responsibility, encourages employees to give back to their communities, and gets people involved in causes greater than themselves.
Some impactful volunteer activity ideas are:
- Supporting a retirement facility and taking seniors out on walks
- Offering marketing and content services to local restaurants and small brick-and-mortar shops affected by the pandemic
- Donating unused and old belongings to local nonprofit organizations
- Beach, park, and city clean-up activities
- Preparing and distributing meals for your city’s at-risk population
21. Offer physical health benefits
Sitting at a desk and slouching for extended periods can affect your employees’ physical health.
Some examples of physical health benefits include:
- Installing gym equipment in an extra room in your office
- Sending reminders every few hours to get employees to take a five- or ten-minute walk
- Organizing a company-wide retreat to a meditation center
22. Celebrate milestones
Celebrating milestones at work helps employees feel valued and appreciated, positively affecting their job satisfaction. The simple act of remembrance is key to making people feel important.
Send your people a personalized note or small gift on a work anniversary or a birthday. Our integrations with Slack and MS teams allow you to automatically send out congratulatory messages for work anniversaries and birthdays.
23. Offer internal mobility
All employees want to grow within their company — but some may want to move up, and others might be interested in lateral moves.
By offering career and development opportunities like cross-team collaboration, promotions, and transitions within your company, you can support individual career goals and help employees grow internally. This will boost not only employee development, but also retention and job satisfaction in the long run.
Ensure employees know they can come to you for career guidance and support them by implementing internal mobility best practices.
24. Develop your company culture
Culture should mean more than unlimited PTO and a ping-pong table in the office — and your company’s mission should inspire your culture. For example, if one of your company values is empathy, make sure your culture fosters open communication and kindness.
Here are some ways you can integrate employee engagement into your culture:
- Uphold an open environment where new ideas are appreciated and diversity is welcome
- Encourage upskilling and learning to support professional and personal goals
- Support collaboration with cross-team communication and activities
- Promote transparency and honest, candid feedback
- Cultivate strong relationships with team-building activities
25. Provide structured onboarding & training
Most companies have onboarding as a part of the hiring process for new employees — but how many are doing it right?
With remote work being the new norm, creating onboarding processes for remote employees comes with its own challenges. Our guide on how to onboard remote employees will walk you through the steps of creating an exceptional onboarding experience.
But that’s not all: What about training for your more senior employees? In this fast-moving world, team members are bound to miss a few updates. Proactively train all employees to help them stay in the loop with innovation and progress with time.
26. Sponsor company dinners
Popularly known as Hweshik, the South Korean workplace dinner culture is a testament to the fact that employee engagement rates go up when employees dine together.
Encouraging (and sponsoring) your people to get together every few months to grab lunch or dinner as a group can be a great practice to strengthen team bonds. Remote companies can also benefit by organizing remote group meals or cooking sessions.
27. Offer mental health perks
Working 9-to-5 while balancing personal responsibilities can take a toll on employee mental health. Many people also find it difficult to unplug after work and keep working into the night.
To counterbalance that and show employees you care about their well-being, here are some mental health perk ideas you can offer:
- Paid mental health days off — no questions asked
- Subscriptions to mindfulness and meditation apps
- Weekly meditation classes
- Mental health workshops (like the one we offer at Leapsome)
28. Host a mentorship program
A mentorship program can help employees understand the workings of the department of their choice at a higher level. For instance, a junior employee interested in moving up the ladder and understanding the strategic side of the company could participate in these programs and start making valuable connections with senior employees.
By shadowing leadership, junior employees can also gain skills crucial for growth. A mentorship program helps people learn skills necessary to advance in their careers, ensuring they feel supported in their development and encouraging them to keep working at the company in the long term.
Mentors can help employees map out their progress with career progression frameworks.
29. Encourage resting and taking breaks throughout the day
We all sometimes feel tired and lazy in the middle of the workday, so encourage your employees to leave their workspaces every so often and take a quick break. Squats, planks, or eye-resting exercises can help employees feel rejuvenated.
A quick power nap (if you work from home) can also help boost productivity rates and increase attention spans.
If your company works in the same time zone, block out a dedicated 20 minutes on your employees’ calendars for them to take a break. If you’re a global company, encourage team members to establish their own exercise and rest breaks in their calendars.
30. Hand out funny trophies
Awarding funny trophies makes for great inside jokes and builds fun employee rapport. Here are some fun titles to hand out:
- Most likely to keep the office printer running
- Foodie of the year
- Go-to crisis management person
- The early bird
- The night owl
- The class clown
- The meme Wiki
31. Bring your own pet (BYOP)
If you want to drive engagement in your workplace, why not introduce furballs into the mix? People love pets, and they can improve employee happiness rates and help relieve stress.
32. Host office trivia days
Office trivia is a series of random questions about happenings at work. The questions can be as bizarre as “who forgot their laptop charger in the office last Thursday” or as professional as “what was last quarter’s revenue?”. The choice is yours.
Want to double your engagement? Divide people into teams and let them compete for a prize.
33. Organize innovation hubs
Your employees have lots of ideas on how to improve things, and if you aren’t leveraging that, you’re missing out big time. Create innovation hubs with team members from different departments to focus everyone’s energy on core issues and develop creative solutions.
Traditional employee innovation hubs aid problem-solving or help improve current processes. But you can create an environment where innovation can be revolutionary — like coming up with a new product idea.
Prioritizing internal innovation greatly promotes a sense of accomplishment and creative freedom within your entire company.
Employee engagement examples: Who has it worked out for?
Although companies have only recently opened their eyes to the importance of employee engagement (and its positive business impact), high-growth companies worldwide experienced it long before.
A good case study is Google, which employs the following strategies to engage and retain its employees:
- Offering exclusive perks to all employees: Google employs in-house chefs to cook organic food, has in-house nap pods to let employees rest, and offers free haircuts and subsidized massages.
- Giving all employees access to health and fitness benefits like gym memberships, on-site physicians, and swimming pool memberships.
- Providing mental health PTO to all employees
- Investing in employee passion projects and encouraging them to spend some of their work time doing something they love
Return-on-investment of employee engagement
Measuring the return-on-investment (ROI) of employee engagement is no easy feat. What exactly do you calculate, what are the variables, and how do they correlate with employee engagement?
Our ROI calculator makes calculating the ROI of employee engagement easy and straightforward. All you need are three variables for your company:
- Number of employees
- Average salary
- Employee turnover rate
We strive to help companies drive up employee engagement rates and create workplaces that team members find fulfilling, exciting, and rewarding.
🚀 Want to boost employee engagement and track progress?
High-performance teams use Leapsome’s employee engagement survey tool to measure what truly matters
👉 Request a demo