Anyone who knows people opps knows that if you want to build a strong and productive team, you first need to make sure your people are happy and engaged. Doing this remotely isn’t always straightforward, but with a few creative employee engagement ideas in your back pocket, it’s absolutely worth the challenge.
In a recent survey, 71% of managers said employee engagement is one of the most important factors in a company’s success. But according to those same managers, only 24% of workers actually feel engaged.
By investing in employee engagement, you can help your team find more meaning in their work, become personally invested in their roles, and ultimately stay at your company longer.
To help you build a happy, committed workforce — wherever in the world you are — we’ve compiled a list of our favorite employee engagement ideas that get teams connecting, smiling, and thriving.
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Strengthen team connections
Building a strong, connected team is the first step in fostering engaged employees. Even though remote workers may not be sharing a physical office space, it’s still important for them to feel understood, supported, and empowered by one another, so that they can tap into the synergy of community.
1. Cross-department collaboration
Sometimes in larger organizations, employees rarely come in contact with colleagues outside of their small team or department. But cross-department interactions can lead to new and creative ideas, exciting collaborations, and a larger support system for physically isolated employees.
Encourage interactions between individuals whose paths might not otherwise not cross by integrating a random-generator bot like Donut into your Slack. The app introduces “Slack strangers” with icebreaker questions, virtual coffees, or even opportunities to meet with the CEO.
2. Special interest clubs
Parents, rock-climbers, gamers. Your team will share interests across the board, so offer opportunities for them to connect with one another, share their passions or pain points, and even induct others into the world they inhabit outside of work.
Start the ball rolling by suggesting a few clubs and encourage people to add their own ideas from there.
3. Community involvement
Employees who are actively aligned with the company mission are more likely to feel engaged. But this can go beyond day-to-day work life, too. Make community involvement a team effort by giving your people the opportunity to fundraise for a cause that closely aligns with your organization’s values.
An employee-led fundraising initiative — where employees choose the cause and drive the efforts — will create even more engagement opportunities and maybe even identify some unexpected leaders on the team.
Get your people charged up with this easy-to-edit fundraiser announcement video.
Create a culture of open communication
To stay engaged in their work, employees need to feel heard. This is true laterally, as well as from the bottom up and the top down. Create a culture of open communication with these employee engagement ideas.
4. Take a quiz on communication styles
One of the keys to creating a culture of open communication is helping your people understand how they communicate — and creating opportunities for improvement.
Encourage employees to take part in a quiz that identifies each person’s natural communication style. Use the results to identify strengths and communication gaps so the team can learn how to best work together going forward.
5. Ask for feedback
Ensure internal communication is collaborative, rather than a one-way street, by creating opportunities for employees to give feedback on what works for them and what can be improved.
To make sure everyone feels comfortable voicing their opinion, offer a variety of ways to give feedback. This can include things like calendared feedback meetings, anonymous polls, or virtual brown-bag lunches with company leadership.
6. Use internal influencers
Within every team are individuals with different skills and experiences. Choosing someone to deliver messages based on those natural strengths not only helps employees feel valued, but it can foster more effective communication, too.
Try designating employees as admins for specific Slack channels or encouraging them to write in their intranet bio the subject areas they are comfortable consulting on. Delivering a video announcement on a hot topic? Tap a well-respected employee to be the “talking head.”
Promote perks that boost mental and physical wellbeing
A healthy person is a happy person. Offering awesome perks that look after your people can have massive benefits. Here are some ideas that work well with remote teams.
7. Online yoga classes
There’s nothing like a lunchtime yoga session to energize and refocus. Hire a yoga teacher to live stream a weekly class to interested employees. Or better yet, create a leadership opportunity and see if anyone on the team is also a certified instructor.
8. Free creative activities
Encourage people to take a break from the daily grind to get creative. Drawing, painting, and poetry classes are all ideas that translate well to a Zoom environment.
If you want to encourage employees to get out of the home office for their creativity, offer the perk of a gift certificate to a class in their area.
9. Team cooking classes
Encourage healthy eating while creating a social opportunity at the same time. Just like with online yoga classes, you can call in the experts or tap the expertise of your employees. If you are a global team, why not have people teach their colleagues how to cook their favorite regional dishes?
Play hard to work harder
Many people miss the social aspect of work when they go remote. A great way for teams to bond is to connect outside of their working duties. But when you’re scattered around the globe, gathering for an office holiday party or getting together for an impromptu happy hour at the local bar isn’t exactly an option. Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives for fun, virtual after-hours activities
10. Virtual escape room
Either curate your own or find an online provider that offers a virtual escape room experience. Employees will unearth clues, puzzle through brain-teaser challenges, and work out ways to “escape the room” while learning each other’s strengths, skills, and learning styles.
11. Murder Mystery
In a similar vein to the virtual escape room, get your team together to collaborate remotely on solving the case of a mysterious crime in a digital murder mystery/Cluedo-type team-bonding game.
12. Coworker Fortune
This is a spin on the classic show Family Feud, where teams come up with the most popular answers to each question the host asks. Sometimes, just being silly together is all people need to feel connected and blow off a little steam.
Offer up a specific tech challenge and create a friendly contest to see who comes up with the best solution during a hackathon on company time.
For SaaS companies with a good deal of programmers, this is a no-brainer. But if you build your hackathon teams thoughtfully, even employees without programming experience can get involved in the fun.
Offer opportunities for growth
Employee engagement is a long-term strategy. People who have opportunities for learning, growth, and leadership are more likely to remain invested in their roles.
14. Mentorship programs
More experienced workers can offer crucial insights into an organization’s operations, so why not give these team members an opportunity to pass on their wisdom?
The personal element of mentorship offers a surefire way to keep employees engaged, and reinforce individual value while forging deeper connections between staff.
Research shows that multigenerational teams with higher age diversity are more productive, too.
15. Let someone else lead meetings
If you’re a leader at your organization, your team probably hears you talk…a lot. Share your responsibilities, demonstrate your trust, and increase engagement by asking a different person to lead your meetings every week, bringing in fresh perspectives and new ideas while showing you value the voices of others.
16. Invite a motivational speaker
Employees are grateful to grow and learn from experts and will often come away more energized and focused. If you have a long or repetitive project or task, try breaking it up by inviting someone outside the organization to share experiences that could be beneficial and inspirational.
Fresh inspiration can also become a regular theme. Consider offering a few different speakers and asking the team to vote on their favorite each month.
Praise and reward success
Openly acknowledging success is one of the most motivating strategies you can put in place. By sharing stories of success, celebrating accomplishments, and showing appreciation for hard work, you’ll instill a culture of recognition that employees will want to be part of.
17. Send a care package
Congratulate a job well done by ordering pre-packaged care bundles from local suppliers that send a range of snacks, drinks, and gifts direct to employees’ homes. Or, send a virtual package with gift certificates and app credits to make your employees feel valued for the hard work they do.
There’s plenty of room for customization, so do what you can to show people you really know them by curating packages for specific individuals rather than going for a more generic option.
18. Win of the week
Get your employees to nominate one another for “win of the week” or “milestone of the month” rewards. This not only recognizes exemplary work, but it encourages teammates to look, listen, and learn from others.
To announce the win of the week, skip the generic email and opt for a personalized and engaging kudos video instead.
19. Leave LinkedIn recommendations
Even though you hope your best employees will stay with the company for a long time, it’s good practice to remind a person you value them as a colleague no matter where their career path takes them.
Save your people the awkward ask by periodically writing personalized recommendations or endorsements on LinkedIn, and encourage team leaders to do the same.
Start engaging your teams through video today
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