Colleagues engaging with each other in the office

Top 21 Proven Ways to Engage Employees

employee engagement

HR managers can agree that employee engagement and retention is at the top of their priority list. Every company wants to attract and keep the best talent.

The problem?

Many employees in today’s job market quickly feel uninspired by their work, get bored after 2 years and start job hunting for something new.

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So we decided to speak with some of the best HR professionals and business leaders around the country to find the strategies they recommend to keep employees engaged.

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There are also some tips below that have been really successful at our company. Here are the top 21 employee engagement ideas that you should apply at your office. You can find the original complete list of 59 here by Emil Shour – Content Manager at SnackNation:

1. Align your company with a purpose

SnackNation CEO Sean Kelly recently gave a presentation at the HR Star Conference, a large gathering of human resources professionals. The presentation, titled “Millennials in The Workplace”, discussed how organizations could increase engagement with their millennial employees.

One of the key points Sean discussed was how important it is to align your company with an overall purpose. Don’t focus on what you do, but why you do it. As millennials quickly begin to dominate the workforce, this message becomes more and more important. Here’s what Sean had to say about aligning your company with a purpose (skip to the 19:35 mark):

Millennials in the Workplace Presentation – Sean Kelly, HR Star Conference

2. Get your health and wellness program in order

Kevin Sheridan, New York Times best-selling Author of Building a Magnetic Culture, has helped some of the world’s largest corporations improve their culture and foster productive engagement. When we asked him what companies should be doing better to improve workplace engagement, he offered us this wisdom:

“The bottom line is that anyone who knows about employee engagement is also a firm believer in instituting health and wellness programs. There have been multiple scientific studies proving that health and wellness efforts not only yield higher productivity and engagement in the workplace but will also help reduce turnover as job stress is the #1 reason people quit (along with a lack of work-life balance which is related to wellness as well).”

3. Emphasize work-life balance

Work-life balance often seems like an impossible struggle. It’s difficult to find that right balance between work and personal life to feel good that both areas are receiving enough attention.

Blake McCammon of Blogging4Jobs, a popular blog focused on HR and the workplace, had this to say about work-life balance’s role in employee engagement:

“Work-life balance is one of the most important things employers can do to help employees not only stay healthy and fit, but keep them engaged day by day. Provide a work from home scenario and flexible hours where employees with children or adults with hobbies are allowed the freedom to enjoy life to the fullest, but still get their work done.”

Work-life balance is going to mean something difference for each employee, so speak with your team to see what you can be doing better as an organization to enhance it. Often times you’ll find that a flexible work schedule will be the easiest way to help people feel more balanced between work and leisure.

4. Stand for something your team can be proud of

Irene Becker, voted as one of the Top 100 Employee Engagement Experts Online, answers the questions of how companies can drive and sustain employee engagement activities at a time when engagement is at an all time low: engagement

“By showing our employees that we care, that we stand for something they can be proud of, and that we offer them meaningful, purposeful work and an opportunity to grow, learn, contribute and succeed because we know that success is a me to WE equation that starts with:

1. Personal, professional development and a structure for growth, recognition and are alive in the organization. 2. Managers, mentors and trainers that are equipped to coach, inspire and bring out the best in their people. 3. Communities of purpose; groups that are centered around a purpose driven business, CSR or community activity are alive, aligning shared values and mission with collaboration. 4. Transparency of communication and the integrity of the organizations commitment to growth, recognition and the optimization of individual and collective potential is mirrored in new ways of developing team spirit and vertical/horizontal collaboration. 5. Human interaction, social activities that engage our people as human beings in the human side of being part of a vibrant, growing, thriving culture.”

5. Promote perks that boost mental and physical well-being

Perks can help make your office a more fun place to work.

JellyVision Interactive Marketing offers these awesome unique perks to
their employees:

  • Unlimited vacation days (with the assumption this privilege won’t be abused)
  • The ability to work from home whenever necessary or work out an unconventional schedule
  • On-site yoga and a free healthy catered lunches every week
  • Company refrigerators and cupboards stocked with fruit and healthy snacks
  • A yearly Wellness Day featuring free 15-minute back massages for every employee and a taste test of unusual, healthy juices
  • Mustache Day (a sort of mustache-themed Halloween that culminates in a fancy lunch out)
  • Frequent company-wide involvement in charity fun runs
  • Beyond all these benefits, JellyVision also told us that they reduce work anxiety for their employees by 1) hiring nice, funny, talented people who become the sort of colleagues who make the day more enjoyable and 2) by nurturing a culture of transparency, humor and kindness?a way of being that is modeled by their founder, Harry, and CEO, Amanda.

6. Create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and positive energy

Give high-fives for no reason, encourage each other to “crush” the day, ring a gong when a sale comes through.

7. Provide ongoing coaching and training

Coaching and mentoring shouldn’t stop after an employee’s initial on-boarding process. A study done by Deloitte in 2012 found that retention is 25% higher for employees who have engaged in company-sponsored mentorship.

Some people in your organization will proactively seek mentors and training, while others will need it to come directly from their manager. Offer an optional weekly coaching session to discuss strategies and tactics that can help each member of the department improve in their role.

8. Open consistent lines of communication

communicationAsk the managers of your organization to setup a weekly meeting to see where their direct reports need resources, any new ideas they have, and how things are going in their role. You’ll find that both managers and direct reports will look forward to these meetings and use them like a strategy session to improve their department on a weekly basis.

9. Show employees how their job advances the company’s vision

Your company has undoubtedly recorded its vision and goals for the year. Why not show employees exactly how their jobs advance the vision? This will boost each employee’s investment in the success of the company instead of just feeling like a cog in the wheel.

10. Give your employees more responsibility, not just more tasks to do

Working at a company that highly values morale has given me some interesting insight on how to engage employees. I’ve noticed that the times my coworkers are incredibly devoted to our work, where states of “flow” seem to be abundant, are when they are given real responsibility.

This shouldn’t be confused with giving your team more things or tasks to do. I’m talking about giving them important projects and initiatives to take ownership of and knock out of the park. Humans are inherently goal-oriented, so when you give them something worth achieving, I believe you’ll be amazed at how much purpose and drive it gives them.

If you’re a manager, give one of your direct reports an important project to be the lead on. On the flip side, ask your manager to take on a project that you think will help you grow and learn something new.

Even if it’s something you have no experience doing ? when you see your goal as being important to the success of the company you’ll find a way to get it done. And I promise you’ll feel more purpose from your work than ever.

11. Know your company culture and hire by it

If you know your company culture and hire by it, you’ll continue to bring people onboard who want to work with the person next to them.

goals12. Create a road map to achieve professional goals

Find out what your employees’ professional goals are and make sure they’re on a track to achieve those goals. Managers should sit down with their direct reports and plan the road map to get them to that next promotion or to acquire the skills they desire.

13. Have a weekly food day

Pick a day of the week where one employee brings in treats to share with the team. Eventually, looking forward to food day will be a major bonding moment for the whole team. Not to mention some employees will even love the chance to show off their baking prowess.

14. Start a learning club

Get your employees more engaged in their work by asking them to think big. Start a learning club where employees select books or videos related to your work for everyone to enjoy. Pick a day where everyone piles into a conference room to discuss the item and its implications for your work.

15. Show them the “people” results of their work

If you send recaps of company progress to your employees, don’t just tell them your customers are happy, show them. Add a glowing testimonial from your customer base, clients or nonprofit constituency to the email so your employees can see how their work impacts real people.

16. Engage employees through gamification

Some people invest more in the games they play after work than they do in their actual work?the work that pays the bills. Why is that? Games leverage instant feedback and compelling goals to keep players coming back for more. Now, companies like Bunchball hope to bring these elements into workplaces to engage employees in ways that go beyond a regular paycheck and benefits.

17. Demonstrate genuine care

The Disney Institute believes consistently demonstrating genuine care makes employees feel happy and engaged. You can demonstrate genuine care in endless ways. One of the Institute’s ideas involves finding out what’s bugging your team. Maybe they hate their office chair or would love to have some upbeat music playing while they work. In this case, it’s the little things that go a long way in showing you care.

18. Have completely open brainstorms

Throw away that meeting rule book and schedule meetings without agendas or target outcomes. Have completely open brainstorm meetings where you throw away limitations and volley around some big ideas. Guide the discussion by throwing out an area of your business you would like to improve.

19. Define what employee engagement means for your company

If you’re struggling to come up with employee engagement ideas, it might be time to take a step back. The word “employee engagement” alone doesn’t give you anything you can visualize. Try considering what it means for your own employees to be engaged specifically. Once you figure out what employee engagement looks like in your company, you can set your sights on achieving it.

20. Start a “distracted” jar

There will be times when your team feels like they can’t possibly focus. Show them that you understand (and have a sense of humor about it) by creating a “distracted jar.” Fill it with activities, jokes and even things to Google when they feel like they can’t work for another minute. Help them get the distractions out of their system so they can continue on with an engaged workday.

21. Start a “vent” box

A vent box is the evil twin of the suggestion box. Encourage employees to fill the box with their complaints, but be sure to keep anonymity sacred. Your employees’ deepest frustrations might also be excellent opportunities for learning.

Author Emil Shour is the Content Manager at SnackNation. His goal? To help companies create better places to work by improving health, inspiring teams to improve together, and making the office a fun and productive environment.