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Last updated September 14, 2021

21 Proven Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

When you keep your employees engaged in the work they do, they’re more likely to stay loyal to your business. Having a driven workforce, whether it’s your sales team, engineering, or your executives, can lead to better productivity and a higher quality of work.

The hard work and resources spent on improving employee engagement are worth investing in. By prioritizing employee engagement, your company will find better productivity and work quality while retaining your top talent.

Team members feel more connected and part of the business while having a real passion for their job.

This extensive list of ideas and activities for an engaged workforce will help make sure your team remains engaged, productive, and happy in the workplace.

21 Employee Engagement Ideas

Below is a list of employee engagement examples to boost engagement in the workplace and increase employee satisfaction.

1. Inspire your employees through your leadership

Influence for employee engagement is most effective when it comes from the top of the business. Your seniors and executives all have a duty to lead by example. The workforce will likely scrutinize everything they do as they navigate through ranks and departments.

Showing the right behaviors will ensure all team members are doing the same. For example, if your operations manager is doing little to contribute to the team’s workload and no one is addressing it, others will likely follow suit.

An engaged employee starts with an engaged leader, so make sure your senior leaders are visible and leading the way by example; be it with their professionalism, their approachability, or their practical actions in the workplace. 

2. Give employee recognition and celebrate your workforce

Employees enjoy feeling valued in the workplace, and a lot of that value can come from receiving public recognition from peers and their seniors. By making people feel valued, you’re more likely to retain employees.

The problem is that not every business is taking that moment or simply making an effort to recognize staff members working hard. It’s an opportunity missed.

It could be securing a new client or releasing an exciting new feature on your platform. An individual’s efforts in the workplace could simply be helping out other employees with their workloads when it’s needed.

With 40% of employed Americans saying they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more, there’s a real need to celebrate your workforce in everything they do. No matter how small or significant the contributions are, it motivates employees when you provide recognition.

3. Get employees involved in opportunities that make an impact

All employees will have a life outside of the workplace. If they don’t, there’s an unhealthy work-life balance that needs addressing.

Be sure to stress the importance of a healthy work-life balance as this tends to be a common problem across many businesses and their company culture.

Your employees will likely have causes and commitments that they are passionate about. Promoting wellbeing in the workplace by getting team members involved in opportunities that make an impact can boost engagement and help them find a healthy environment out of work.

For example, it could be giving back to the community with volunteer activities to monthly challenges that practice sustainability or reducing their carbon footprint.

Encourage personal projects and provide your staff with the employee engagement tools and software needed to make them happen.

4.Train your managers to be more approachable

When it comes to leadership and those of higher seniority, there’s sometimes a disconnect between them and other staff members.

Both are equally important as team members and leaders should be able to connect as co-workers.

Whether they work together actively on projects or simply co-exist within the workplace, it’s important for both parties to be approachable. Some managers might have that natural ability to make themselves easy to talk to, where others can struggle.

Four employees at a table in the workplace
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This requires a gentle nudge by the business through training where necessary.  Consider everyone in your leadership team and encourage employees within this area of the business to find ways to be more approachable. 

This could be investing in leadership courses for those that would benefit, to bringing together different departments for social meetings. Find something that works best for introverts or extroverts, and allow all staff to feel approachable and welcoming. 

5. Implement radical transparency

Being transparent with your employees can be highly beneficial to boost employee engagement. Radical transparency is basically being honest with your employees in relation to business performance and the goals and visions that the company has.

There are statistics that make this a proven employee engagement idea. 90% of employees think it’s appropriate to demand transparency, particularly when it comes to growth and opportunities in business.

Your engaged employees want transparency, so don’t be afraid to give it to them. You end up promoting a company culture that is based on honesty, rather than lying or deflecting the truth.

6. Provide training for employee career progression

Many people appreciate receiving employee feedback to help with your employee engagement strategy.

However, personal development through career progression is also welcomed. Different employees will have a certain viewpoint regarding career paths and where they wish to go in the company.

Some may enjoy where they are and want to stay in that position, while others want to go further. Monitoring employee performance is useful for an employer to make decisions on company promotions; however, it’s also necessary to allocate a budget for training.

You want to hold on to your strongest employees, so offer them opportunities for career progression if they’re asking for it—or even if you think they deserve it. Make suggestions on what training might be of value to them, and continue to expand on their knowledge, skills, and drive to succeed.

7. Have teams brainstorm their own employee engagement ideas

Generating employee engagement ideas yourself is useful, but why not give the mic to your employees?

In order to engage employees, encourage teams to brainstorm their own ideas. A lot of employees will tend to rely on direction from others, while there will be a few company ambassadors looking to lead the charge and build a healthier workplace. 

Giving employees the opportunity to find engagement ideas and activities of their own can help build trust and get them involved in company culture in more meaningful ways.

You may want to help collate these ideas, so engaged employees vote collectively on which ones they want to do and feel will be most valuable to them.

This can help contribute towards employee engagement by giving staff the driving seat.

8. Recognize and reward hard work

Recognition for hard work in the form of a pat on the back and verbal recognition is always welcome. However, a rise in salaries—and other similar rewards—are appreciated too.

Job satisfaction can be different for every employee. Some may care more about money than others, whereas others are more driven by the amount of responsibility they have or their title.

If you don’t provide ample rewards and clear pathways to raise salaries, then this can lead to disengaged employees. They’ll also have more reason to look elsewhere for a new job.

Recognize those engaged employees deserving of rewards, showcase your gratitude, and your employee retention rates will benefit.

9. Give your employees more responsibilities

Employee engagement initiatives like granting more responsibility in the workplace benefit your employee engagement and your business.

Your managers and senior-level positions should be delegating the workload fairly. However, it doesn’t need to stop at that; there are other ways you can give employees more responsibilities.

For example, maybe you have new hires that require an onboarding process or a buddy, and certain employees can be of assistance.

Or, there could be workforce culture projects that need some extra help, like making the business more eco-friendly or creating a happier work environment with activities. Figure out what out-of-the-box tasks you can let employees manage. 

Lastly, if this is going well, continue to reward engaged employees with additional responsibilities.

10. Deliver employee feedback regularly

The need for feedback is clear. Officevibe found that four out of ten workers were actively disengaged when receiving little or no feedback. That could be almost half of your company disengaged if feedback isn’t an active part of your engagement strategy.

HR leaders should guide managers and heads of departments to deliver regular feedback for those they manage and are responsible for. 

There’s not a single person in the entire company who won’t benefit from some form of feedback, whether from their managers or their peers. Find ways for all staff to provide feedback where you think it can positively affect overall employee engagement. 

11. Play virtual team building games

Working remotely and during a pandemic has meant an uphill battle for employee engagement. However, playing virtual games with team members is proving to be successful in helping disconnect from the working day.

While in-person games can obviously be more hands-on, plenty of virtual games are entertaining and will help with employee engagement.

For example, consider virtual escape rooms, weekly team quizzes, a virtual pub crawl, or an Airbnb digital experience. There’s sure to be some form of a virtual game that appeals to most employees in your workforce. 

This also reinforces the importance of a healthy work-life balance, even when our office is our living room.

12. Conduct pulse surveys to understand your employees

Pulse surveys can be useful to understand your employees beyond just their position in the business. It can provide a more in-depth view of employees’ state of mind.

By conducting surveys, you can acquire more knowledge on how your employees feel about the business. By tailoring your questions, you can get a better insight into their thoughts and feelings.

For example, you could ask them about the company’s values and whether they feel connected to them. You may want to ask about how they feel about the company’s contributions to workplace activities, positive impact initiatives, and teambuilding opportunities too.

A survey on company values
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Employee engagement surveys are worth creating, but be sure to make them interactive and creative if you want to see them completed. 

If you intend to use any of the results from the survey, it’s good to procure user consent prior—just in case employees thought responses were anonymous. Employees tend to be more responsive to things like surveys when you give rewards, so think of what you can give them to get a better volume of completed surveys.

13. Build community through your socials to keep employees engaged

As a business, a social media presence can be used to connect to your customers and followers of the brand. 

It can also benefit your employees to get actively involved through your company’s socials, connecting better with the company mission and community. 

For example, you could have an Instagram takeover from someone within the company that doesn’t do social media. Or, it could be a Facebook update made by a team member talking about an upcoming volunteer project they’re doing.

By fostering interaction and positivity within your organization via social media, it can help give an employee more purpose. It can make them feel like part of the bigger picture, having influence over how the company is portrayed to the public.

Lastly, this is a great way for your employees to interact with customers, and there’s a lot of insight that they can get from speaking to them directly.

14. Measure real-time employment engagement

Consider how you can measure employee engagement in real-time. Employees experience different levels of engagement throughout the working day, week, and month.

A constant listening strategy can be useful to improve employee engagement. Give your employees the opportunity to be heard, and work with them on finding solutions to their struggles.

Make communication part of your business’s core values and foster more one-on-one meetings. Bring focus to what’s important for employees, and you’ll better your employee engagement.

15. Have virtual coffee breaks

Coffee breaks or catch-ups in the office canteen can be a great contribution to employee engagement. So when your workers are working remotely, why not hold a virtual coffee break now and then?

It can be a great way to allow the team some time to switch off and catch up together on life outside of the workplace. After all, it’s important to take some time getting to know the people behind the roles.

A cup of coffee and a laptop
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This can also be a great way for a new employee to get to know existing staff members and build stronger relationships between co-workers. A working relationship should be more than just a mutual obligation.

16. Allocate funds to improve the home office environment

Remote working means a lot of your employees could be working from a space that’s less than suitable. From having a dining table for a desk to sitting on a couch instead of an ergonomic office chair, some working from home set-ups are not ideal.

Allocating funds to improve an employee’s home office environment is going to do wonders for their productivity levels and appreciation levels. 

Engaged employees work better if they are comfortable and feel physically supported in their workspace.

Not only that, but you can help contribute to a desk space that’s more inviting and mimics their more productive workplace environment in the office.

17. Start an internal company newsletter

When it comes to great employee engagement ideas, starting a company newsletter is one of them.

Employees feel part of the bigger picture when they know more of what’s going on outside their own role or department.

Email editor for company newsletter
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To increase employee engagement, try to involve as many of your staff members as possible in the newsletter. Whether it’s a contribution every quarter, month, or more frequently, job satisfaction can come from being more involved in the business.

A company newsletter is a great way to share the company’s core values to new hires and make it a space that offers value-based employee recognition.

18. Assign a buddy or mentor for new starters

Reward employees by giving them experiences that they might not have expected to get in their roles. This could look like being involved in the hiring process of new staff to being assigned as a buddy or mentor to new hires.

A new employee is already going to feel nervous when joining a new company, but having a buddy or mentor system can help with the onboarding process.

All team members can get the opportunity to do this. It’s a great way of motivating employees and lets employees connect with each other.

19. Create themed office days and team building activities

In order to better your company culture, it’s essential to have fun. Another one of our employee engagement ideas is to create themed office days.

It could be celebrating someone’s birthday, a milestone within the company, or a seasonal holiday.

It’s a great way to make employees feel engaged when they’re in an environment that’s slightly different from the one they see every single working day of the year.

There’s also an opportunity for cross-team communication to happen, especially for themed days.

20. Be sure employees are taking breaks during the workday

To boost employee engagement and as a constant reminder to perfect the work-life balance, ensure that breaks are enforced across the business.

A company culture that frowns upon employees taking proper lunch breaks or breaks throughout the day won’t amount to prolonged success. Hungry workers, understandably, aren’t giving their best.

It’s also a company culture that would likely push employees to consider leaving the business and head in search of other opportunities.

An hour’s lunch break should be the norm, as well as regular breaks throughout the day away from the desk or work environment. Employees feel more engaged and ready to work when they’ve had regular breaks.

21. Flexibility on hours and location equals engaged employees

Finally, a big driver of employee engagement is flexibility. Employees feel more engaged when there’s flexibility in their work hours, especially those with young families, as Mckinsey found only 8% want a fully onsite working model.  

An employee engagement idea is to offer flexible working hours and remote working as and when you can for your workforce. You’ve already proven that employees connect both remotely and in the office—so why not offer them both?

coffee cup and laptop on table. Woman with mobile phone

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You will likely see a positive influence on employee engagement by being more flexible and allowing them the opportunity to take time off, especially when it comes to emergencies. 

HR professionals within the workplace should be ensuring time can be booked off without employees feeling guilt for doing so. Incorporate it into your company mission and always stress the importance of taking time off.

A tool for employee engagement

We’re sure you’ll find it useful to take full advantage of any tools or software that can help incorporate and boost employee engagement within the company.

Alaya offers a creative, new way to maximize employee engagement in your team via a combination of giving and volunteering initiatives with wellbeing at the heart of it all. The opportunities available to employees help build stronger connections and encourage employees to engage with each other and their community

Engage your employees with volunteering initiatives, donation matching, and trying out new positive habits. Employee engagement means a better workforce overall, so why not give Alaya a try with a free demo?

Employee engagement ideas FAQs:

What are some examples of employee engagement activities?

Some examples of employee engagement are: workplace parties, competitions and tournaments between different departments, team building away days, start a learning club to share knowledge & more

How do you improve employee engagement?

Increase employee engagement with an employee engagement strategy. Consider your current efforts to engage employees and try out new ideas—there’s no single solution to unengaged employees.
Here are three tips:
Don’t be afraid to ask your co-workers what they need to connect with their job more and find more satisfaction within their role.
Be sure to consider your company’s mission and its values so that any employee engagement initiative you do aligns with this.
Understand more about your employees and collect employee data where you can. It will help you find the ideas and activities that work best for your teams.

How do I measure employee engagement?

Measure employee engagement with ample feedback opportunities measured over time. This could be pulse surveys, one-on-one interviews—even exit interviews. Understand what your team thrives on and give it to them.
Define your metrics beforehand, and make sure to keep an eye on how your employee engagement efforts are working. It’s a great way to determine whether it’s time to change tactics and approach employee engagement from another angle.