18 employee engagement ideas that work
When it comes to employee engagement, there’s no single approach that will work for every business. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s because every business is unique, with its own brand, culture, structure and mix of employees. However, there are many proven strategies that will get results and make a noticeable difference to your organisation.
We have collated eighteen of the very best staff engagement ideas. Pick the ones that best suit your business and work them together to improve employee engagement to retain your workforce.
1. Start with a plan
Why? A defined employee engagement strategy is the blueprint guiding you to success
Start as you mean to go on. With a detailed outline that defines your business goals in communicating with staff and plans the activities required to achieve these goals.
What is employee engagement, as applies to your business? Do you need your staff to be able to adapt to upcoming change? Or maybe you need your employees to work better together as a team? Every organisation has different challenges to face and this will affect the strategy you decide on.
Once you have your plan, it will be need to be executed. Make sure you have all the resources in place. Then pack your plan with creative employee engagement ideas to get your staff fired up with energy and enthusiasm.
2. Connect the silos across your organisation
Why? When all employees feel aligned, it leads to a sense of engagement
So often, that “information is power” attitude manifests itself as a reluctance to share and interact. Suddenly silos are popping up all over the place. According to a Queens University study , 39% of employees are feeling the impact of a lack of collaboration.
This becomes more prevalent the larger your organisation becomes. If you open a new office or start franchising out your brand, it becomes harder to maintain business alignment.
The key to effective employee engagement is to ensure that everyone knows what the right direction is (the goal) and what their part is in getting there (their role). Everyone needs a view of the bigger picture.
Source: Queens University - Communicating in the workplace
3. Inform your audience
Why? A steady flow of information helps to connect directors with those at the coalface
The best employee engagement improvement ideas always start with information. You need to create free flowing channels of information to share the strategic direction and company vision.
Directors make decisions on how to run a company daily and employees are the ones who live and breathe the impact of these decisions. Without understanding the what and the why, employees risk not feeling engaged at work.
An employee engagement platform is an ideal way to centralise communications. Instead of using disparate channels from a number of sources, you can keep the news relevant and on brand, and essentially, easy to access from one central hub.
4. Listen to your people
Why? Engagement starts with a feeling of inclusion. Listening shows you care.
Implement an employee listening strategy by allowing your employees to voice their opinions. It’s a great way to check the pulse of what matters at the coalface of your business. However, it’s a sad truth that only 30% of staff feel like their voices are heard .
In this age of social media, people now expect to be able to engage in a two-way conversation. This presents an interesting challenge for internal communicators, especially given that many organisations haven’t yet adopted this type of channel internally.
Fortunately, an Employee Engagement App will have these two-way channels built in, easily facilitating the flow of feedback. By opening up channels for discussion – in the right forum and on the right topics – you can go a long way towards improving employee engagement and creating a collaborative workplace.
Source: Gallup 2017 - How to Create a Culture of Psychological Safety
5. Create trust
Why? Employees need to know you are offering an unbiased source of information
Trust needs to come from all levels of the organisation. Leaders need to trust Internal Communications to get things right; to understand when a business can and can’t be open and honest. And employees need to trust Internal Communications to be an unbiased source of information and a conduit for their feedback.
Consider providing stakeholder management training. More so than in other roles, the internal communications team may have to discuss or offer a counter opinion to senior leaders. They need to understand how to do this tactfully and respectfully.
That way, internal communications teams can create effective forums for employee engagement, based on truth and business strategy.
Source: Gatehouse - State of the Sector 2018
6. Be data-driven
Why? Employee engagement strategies need to demonstrate a return on investment
When it comes to ideas for employee engagement programmes, finding a way to show an impact on the bottom line should always be on your list.
This can be a major challenge for something as conceptual as employee engagement. A lack of clear objectives within the organisation creates a grey area that is at risk of being filled with well-intentioned, but ineffective, activity. The fact that 60% of communicators don’t measure the effectiveness of their activity  demonstrates the low priority this is often given.
Determining deliverables is the first step to building a strategic mindset. When it comes to employee engagement, deliverables include everything from feedback and recognition to internal relationships and happiness levels. Don’t forget to measure personal growth and job satisfaction, key components to high engagement levels.
A clear, measurable business strategy should be easy to interpret at all levels of the organisation.
Source: Veronika Mazour - How to measure your internal communications’ effectiveness?
7. Focus on long-term success
Why? Measuring employee engagement should never be a one-time event
Once you have your deliverables in place and you’ve set up monitoring actions, keep going. Whether your deliverables are briefings, channel management, or surveys, you should automate processes where possible to help streamline the department. Employee engagement ROI should be a vital part of your business objectives.
In addition, whenever you launch new employee engagement ideas, it’s essential to get feedback to see if they have worked. You may find that they did, or you may find that they didn’t go far enough. Your plan may improve engagement in one department or section but uncover issues in another.
So, in addition to regularly surveying employees, set up a dashboard to track vital success metrics. Make it easy for yourself - an employee engagement platform will have these dashboards built in and ready to use.
Source: Gatehouse - The definitive survey of the Employee Engagement and Internal Communication landscape 2018
8. Create employee advocates
Why? A genuinely engaged employee is always the best ambassador for your brand
Brands are increasingly turning to their employees as advocates of their products and services. Nurturing brand advocates internally gives your messaging an engaging, peer-to-peer channel. So, as well as being a measurement of engagement, employee advocacy can become the catalyst for greater engagement throughout your organisation.
Employee engagement survey results show that 50% of employees already post messages, pictures or videos about their employer on social media . It makes sense to harness this power, rather than trying to silence it.
These social media stories are then available to the wider external audience and provide share-worthy material. This helps build strong internal relationships, breaks down silos, and encourages more meaningful interaction.
Source: Weber Shandwick - Employee Activism: The next frontier of employee engagement
9. Assign buddies
Why? A buddy scheme will improve retention of new employees and lift engagement levels
Whether you decide on a casual buddy scheme or more formal mentoring programme, this simple staff engagement idea can have a dramatic effect. For new hires in particular, having someone to turn to in those first few weeks can make all the difference between an employee who settles in smoothly and an employee who walks.
Employees who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their role. Simply by encouraging friendships and connections, you will find that knowledge is shared more freely, collaboration is enhanced and enthusiasm levels rise.
Of all the initiatives to improve employee engagement, this one is the most flexible. There are multiple ways to implement such a scheme, from face to face chats to app-based chatting. Explore which works best for your business.
10. Reward wisely
Why? Incentives need to be clear and defined in order to have the maximum benefit
Give them a bonus and they’ll be happy. Yes? Well, actually no. If you indiscriminately reward staff without linking it to progress and success, you could end up damaging engagement levels.
Employee engagement ideas based on bonuses and rewards need to be handled with caution. Rewards without reason can make staff complacent and under-productive.
Instead, use rewards for jobs well done and progress made. When delivering incentives, make sure it is clear why employees are being rewarded. This way they’ll know how to keep delivering in line with expectations, which will then boost job satisfaction. If you’re wondering how to implement employee engagement, this is an excellent tool to consider.
11. Master onboarding
Why? Successful onboarding reduces turnover and ensures immediate productivity
Many companies overlook the importance of onboarding. But the process of integrating new employees into the organisation is a crucial one. It is vital to improve employee engagement to retain your workforce.
A structured onboarding programme improves employee engagement and helps get them up to speed with seasoned hires much more quickly. As a result, new employees are more productive and less likely to feel stressed, disconnected and ready to look for work elsewhere.
Group chats have proved a highly effective strategy. An Employee Engagement App will help to organise new starters in a group chat led by management. Questions can then be answered as they arise, and tackled before they become problems.
12. Give back
Why? Charitable giving helps employees connect with the company’s aims and ideals
Corporate giving is known to have a greatly beneficial effect on company culture. It is a way for the organisation to reinforce their greater purpose – beyond that of just products and services – and communicate it to employees in a meaningful way. In short, it’s showing staff that you care.
Organising and promoting charitable events among employees results in significantly improved employee engagement. It is an opportunity to create traditions that staff can take pride in.
If you’re looking for ideas for employee engagement activities, just ask your teams to get involved with your charitable choices. Nothing promotes employee advocacy better than a sense of pride and ownership. Charitable giving is one of the rising employee engagement trends for a reason.
13. Make recognition public
Why? When you praise in public, everyone present feels encouraged to work harder
Hard work should never go unnoticed. Otherwise, your employees may be less inclined to deliver again. Instead, promote visibility of your staff by being generous with your public praise and recognition. Of all the employee engagement improvement ideas, this one is easy to implement.
In addition, everyone who witnesses public appreciation will register this subconsciously. Not only will they consider the company culture to be supportive and nurturing, they will also feel motivated to follow suit and seek praise themselves.
Simply putting a staff member’s name to a project can help to promote engagement, especially when they are thanked for a fantastic job. Digital platforms and Employee Engagement Apps make it easy to tag employees in this simple but effective form of recognition.
14. Celebrate personal stuff
Why? Your employees will feel valued and appreciated if you celebrate what matters to them
Don’t just limit the celebrations to company targets and milestones. If you take the time to celebrate things that matter to your employees, you will reap the rewards in improved employee engagement.
Fun employee engagement ideas should always include workplace celebrations. They foster strong relationships, enhance retention and encourage staff to put in that extra bit of effort to achieve results.
Employee intranets can be used to wish staff members a happy birthday or to celebrate accomplishments whether it is passing an exam or running a marathon. Staff should always feel like they matter to an organisation to ensure they are as engaged as possible.
15. Empower employees
Why? When you give your staff autonomy, you create a better workplace culture
Empowerment is about accountability and trust. You need to give employees a certain degree of autonomy and responsibility in order to gain the best performance from them. Delegating authority and decision-making, sharing information, and asking for input are all ways to pass the power back to your staff. It also takes a lot of work off your shoulders.
To go above and beyond, allow your staff to dedicate time to their own staff engagement ideas and engagement projects. By giving your staff the control, they not only engage in their preferred way, but it also saves you time and effort in engagement activities as well.
16. Focus on health
Why? If your staff feel healthy and cared-for, they will be less stressed and more productive
Taking a caring approach to your employees makes good business sense. It stands to reason. If your employees are operating at maximum health, they are going to be fully engaged in their work. It’s not just physical health you need to consider; make sure you address mental and emotional health issues as well.
You can take these ideas for employee engagement activities a step further. Why not create fitness groups, such as putting everyone on a league for step-counting using a fitness band?
You can even create a running club or partner with a local gym to provide a discount to employees. A very popular employee engagement idea at the moment, you’ll find a well-organised health focus will reap benefits for you and your staff.
17. Use motivational speakers
Why? A motivational speaker can bring a new perspective to reinvigorate staff
One of the best things about motivational speakers is that they don’t work for you. Therefore, they are not bogged down by the daily grind. They can see the bigger picture and present it to your staff in an original and inspiring way that could inspire an influx of new ideas.
While this is one for the more popular ideas for employee engagement programmes, it can
be hard to organise such presentations in-house, especially if people work across multiple locations or work remotely.
However, you can still engage staff wherever they are. Webinars, videos and transcripts can all help to engage staff and ensure they don’t miss out, even if they aren’t based at head office.
18. Keep communication open
Why? Open communication channels will allow staff to share ideas effectively
An open, two-way communication stream between employees and management will help staff to feel valued and appreciated. Of all the employee engagement improvement ideas, this is critical to the success of your long-term strategy.
The more channels you can provide the better, always ensuring they are carefully monitored, to allow employees to select their favourite form of communication.
An employment engagement app can be considered a ‘super channel’ that covers all options. It includes email, intranet, instant messaging, videos and more. Once your employees start using these open feedback channels on a regular basis, you’ll find employee engagement levels soar.