50 Effective Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

Employee engagement strategies to reduce absenteeism, improve morale and boost profits through increased productivity and reduced HR turnover costs.

50 Effective Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

The Holaspirit Team
February 9, 2021

50 Effective Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

The Holaspirit Team
February 9, 2021

Employee engagement and profitability are directly linked.

Why?

Because engaged employees are more productive, it's that simple.

Indeed, according to Gallup’s Q12® Meta-Analysis Report, companies that have high employee engagement are 21% more productive and 22% more profitable than their less-engaged counterparts.

Effective employee engagement initiatives and tactics can:

  • reduce absenteeism,
  • drastically improve morale,
  • boost profits through increased productivity, and
  • save you money long-term by reducing the need for new hires.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Creating an employee engagement strategy that will show results is challenging.

In this article, we’ll share 50 ideas to help you drive up employee engagement.

These 50 strategies will serve to reinforce 5 key levers of employee engagement:

  1. Learning and development (8 ideas)
  2. Employee recognition (14 ideas)
  3. Culture change (12 ideas)
  4. Hiring and onboarding (5 ideas)
  5. Work-life-balance (11 ideas)

But first, let’s clarify quickly what we mean by employee engagement

What Is Employee Engagement?

Many employers confuse the two but employee engagement is not the same thing as job satisfaction.

Unlike job satisfaction, engagement comes from an individual's emotional connection to the brand. It includes how they feel about their work and how invested they are in the company's values and missions.

One of the defining characteristics of employee engagement is how motivated your staff are. It talks about how passionate they are about the brand and the organization, and how included they feel in the business' journey.

How can you create that sense of engagement and drive to contribute positively to the business?

Employee Engagement Strategies

To successfully improve your employee engagement levels, you'll need a strategy.

Employee engagement is not as simple as handing out small tokens of appreciation and hoping that will shift the outcome.

A baseline strategy is vital to the success of all your employee engagement tactics. Without a solid foundation to stand on, your efforts may fall short without showing any results.

Five areas are key to an effective employee engagement program:

  1. Learning and development
  2. Employee recognition
  3. Culture change
  4. Hiring and onboarding
  5. Work-life-balance

Within those five key areas, there are a number of individual strategies you can implement to stave off employee disengagement and create a great workplace where people love to come in every morning.

Employee Learning and Development Strategy (8 Ideas)

Employees should have growth opportunities to improve their skills, learn new ones, or advance their careers.

If you can provide these opportunities, you'll notice an increased level of loyalty towards the organization.

By giving employees the opportunity to better themselves through the company, you give them room to grow without having to look elsewhere.

Instead of feeling hindered or frustrated by repetitive tasks and missions, they’ll proactively look for solutions and find new growth opportunities for the company.

1 – Create internal programs where employees can learn about other areas of the business.

This can give people a chance to understand the business's processes as a whole. In turn, allow them to understand how they fit in and what value their department adds to the entire machine.

2 – Create a platform or system where employees can request training or external employee education.

Perhaps a junior in your project management department feels they need advanced excel skills. Make it easy for them to ask for that training. Give them the platform where they feel that they can ask for this.

3 – Be transparent with employees' paths to promotion.

If someone would like to apply for a job within the organization but feel they need help, consider a way that you can give this to them.

4 – Give every employee a chance to lead.

An opportunity for employees to show leadership in a strategic session or a team meeting gives the platform for personal development.

5 – Ask employees to write their own role descriptions.

This is a common practice in self organized teams because it empowers employees to take ownership of their roles. It also has great value in more traditional companies because it can reveal gaps between what management thinks a role should be and what it is in reality.

Employees who take ownership of their role description are more engaged
Employees who take ownership of their role description are more engaged

6 – Host quarterly feedback sessions on large projects.

This way, employees can discuss where they feel improvement was needed and what was done phenomenally. One effective way to do this is by scheduling quarterly OKR workshops for the company as a whole and for teams and individuals as well.

7 – Make it easy for employees to propose a new role or apply to new openings within the company.

If an employee wants the opportunity to take on a new role, there should be a platform for them to discuss these goals and an easy process for them to propose a new opportunity or apply to a vacant role.

Promote vacant and hiring roles to the entire organization

8 – Ask about the tools they have at their disposal.

Employees may feel that they need additional tools or software in order to be more productive. Make it easy and comfortable for them to ask for or purchase these tools.

Training and tools have a cost, but the investment is worth it. Working with people who ask for this additional support to grow can only be a good thing.

Employee Recognition (14 Ideas)

The age-old saying goes, "A simple thank you goes a long way."

The same basic thought process applies to employee engagement and the recognition of those employees.

Feeling appreciated is a key driver of employee satisfaction and positive employee experience.

There are countless initiatives you can put in place to show your appreciation.

1 – Sharing successes and showing appreciation.

Encourage team members to share small and big successes with each other. If your organization functions with different layers of management, ask the leadership team, CEOs or CFOs, to pop a small visit “downstairs” to share a simple thank you with staff members.

2 – Create an organizational culture and system where strengths and successes are identified and praised.

This should be done by employees for employees. For example, you could add a round of gratitude during weekly tactical meetings where each team member shares something they appreciated from another team member that week.

3 – Ask for anonymous feedback from employees on recognition.

Ask for employee feedback, especially disengaged employees: where do they feel you can improve and show more appreciation as a group? It’s not enough to be open to feedback, you have to actively seek it out at all levels of the organizations.

4 – At the end of a successful project, invite your staff to lunch.

Give them a chance to celebrate the win together. If you’re working in a very hierarchical company, let them enjoy the free lunch and unwind without a boss there.

5 – Allow staff to publicly announce their wins to the company.

Encourage people to “boast” about their wins on a regular basis during a monthly meeting or in real time, in a post on an internal communication tool for example. The goal here is not to brag but to create a positive, upbeat atmosphere where everyone can see things are moving and the entire organization is making progress towards a common goal.

Big new client signed today!

6 – Celebrate work anniversaries.

There’s no need for anything fancy here. Simply taking the time to hang out together as a team and showing appreciation to people will contribute to increasing employee engagement.

7 – Give employees an opportunity to talk to their manager's manager.

In companies with multiple layers of management, information can get lost pretty quickly along the way. You may be able to use this as a way to identify where recognition is falling short.

8 – Reward employees with a day off, just because you can.

Who doesn’t like an impromptu day off? You won't believe how much they will appreciate the gesture.

9 – Try to implement a (healthy) rewards system.

The less money and the more fun you can attach to those rewards, the better. Financial compensation is often overestimated by employers as a vector of employee engagement. Sure, the money factor is important. But it’s also easier to get it wrong than right.

10 – Recognize employees who have their own methods for increasing their productivity.

Those who have great tips for managing their tasks. Give them a platform to share valuable insights with their team.

11 – Create a community of gratitude.

Put up a board in your reception area and ask staff to put up a note when someone has gone above and beyond the call of duty.

12 – Zero tolerance policy for abuse.

Under no circumstance should anyone, at any level, be allowed to publicly humiliate a team member. Writing and sharing clear guidelines on how to provide feedback and work through disagreements is a great way to get everyone on the same page and ensure every one’s psychological safety.

13 – Employee of the month program, with a twist.

Increase the employee engagement level by asking staff to nominate and vote for other employees who they feel need the recognition. Don't forget to include remote employees!

14 – Encourage staff to talk to their managers or HR professionals about toxic co-workers.

The goal is to create a work environment where people feel safe discussing their concerns. Note: this can only be an effective employee engagement strategy if you make sure it doesn't foster a culture of blame that turns into a witch-hunt.

At the end of the day, employee recognition is a big driver of employee engagement levels. But it's important to note that simply having twenty employee appreciation policies in place is not enough.

You'll want to work on organizational culture as a whole.

Changing The Organizational Culture (12 Ideas)

The culture of your company can make or break your employee engagement efforts. But what is company culture?

Company culture can be defined as the behaviors, beliefs, and traditions that drive the business as a whole.

This includes all interactions between your clients, management, and employees. A positive culture will reduce your employee turnover and increase productivity.

By making some fundamental changes to the culture of the company, you can drive employee engagement levels up.

Here are 12 strategies you can try:

1 – Ask people for their input.

By running an employee engagement survey for example, and asking people what they want. What do they like about the organization? Is there anything that makes them feel uncomfortable? Are there behaviors they resent?

2 – Write down and promote your company values.

Make sure everyone “walks by” these values often, offline and online. Use an exciting design to inspire your staff when they see those values, on a wall, as a welcome message in their browser, in the company chat, etc.

3 – Encourage self improvement.

Dedicate a space for employees to regularly discuss personal goals and individual goals with their manager or supervisor. You'll create a culture of self-improvement and move away from micromanaging.

4 – Design a productive workspace.

Create an office space where employees can move around in order to optimize their productivity, and not feel that they have to be stuck at their desk all day. Contribute to remote workstations by financing sound-canceling headphones, walking desks or sending a company branded Teddy bear for example.

5 – Organize company events.

Hosting fun 3-4 day company getaways can help teams bond and find creative solutions to work problems together.

6 – Encourage staff to take their vacation time.

It's vital that your staff, and yourself, take time off regularly in order to stay positive and rested. If they need time off, they need to be able to take it.

7 – Create an environment where people feel safe.

Ensure that your staff is never put in a position where they are unnecessarily fearing for their job. Discussions need to be encouraged if they feel this way.

8 – Review employee reviews.

Glassdoor reviews can help you analyze the view of your company culture, and what may need to change in the eyes of previous employees.

9 – Share company goals and challenges.

Be open and transparent with your employees on company goals and strategic changes. They should be allowed to make suggestions and feel their opinion is valued.

10 – Make it ok to fail.

Encourage innovation and risk-taking by promoting the idea that it’s ok to run experiments that fail. If you create a culture where failure is feared, then your staff will never share ideas openly.

11 – Make space for team bonding.

Set up a communal place where staff can take their lunch breaks and encourage them to leave their desks to eat lunch or take a coffee break.

12 – Communicate strong ethical values and behave accordingly.

Should staff feel that there are unethical things happening, they need an anonymous way to voice their concerns so that you can take charge.

Combining all of these ideas can create a radical shift in the way that the company behaves. Transactions between all stakeholders, both internal and external, will become positive.

Hiring And Onboarding Strategies (5 Ideas)

When an HR leader takes the time to create a hiring and onboarding process that's in line with the company purpose and mission, employee engagement follows.

Right from the start, a new hire arrives as an extra motivated, engaged worker who believes in the organizational purpose.

1 – Create a mentorship program.

Assign new employees a mentor within the company for their first few weeks. It gives new employees the opportunity to ask 'stupid questions' and mentors the opportunity to adjust their onboarding journey to suit their needs.

2 – Organize company-wide workshops and activities.

Organize an 'initiation' campaign for new hires in order to allow them to get to know their co-workers. Perhaps this can be a company lunch, or snack so that new hires can socialize and feel included.

3 – Create a space where new hires share what they've learned.

New hires should be encouraged to share the journey they've experienced as they have settled into their new role. It's a great way to do this during an out-of-office lunch so they feel more open to discussing this.

4 – Involve current employees in the recruitment process.

Identify different profiles who might bring different things to the table and ask them to participate in an interview.

5 – Build a diversity and inclusion program.

Be transparent about the diversity and inclusivity of your employees with existing staff, as well as new hires. Be transparent with the business goals in this area.

By hiring people on a mission and making them feel like they're adding value from day one, you can build an engaged organization.

Although it may be an engagement strategy in the short term, it will also increase your level of employee retention in the long term.

Encourage Work-Life-Balance (11 Ideas)

One of the hardest things for anybody to achieve is an equal balance between their work life and their home life.

Particularly if there are circumstances that are especially strenuous. For example, a high-powered position within a large organization or a job that is extremely demanding with multiple roles.

Employee engagement can be influenced largely by the importance that an organization places on work life balance.

To be fully-committed, people need to feel that the company understands and values their personal lives and down-time as well, not just what they can bring to work.

1 – Encouraging personal projects.

Both in the workplace and outside of it. If there is a member of staff who wants to run the Boston marathon, encourage them to set out and achieve this. Encouraging new experiences and leadership can only be a good thing.

2 – Consider implementing flexible working hours.

If people are given a certain amount of freedom to manage their own work and hours, you'll most likely see productivity increase substantially.

3 – Match employee donations to charities they love.

Employees may have passions outside of the workplace that include different charities or non-profit organizations. Encourage them to share these with you, and implement an incentive program where the organization will match their donation.

4 – Organize company activities.

Create clubs within your business for team members who share the same hobbies and interests, and encourage them to meet regularly to share their passion. Encourage them to share their club achievements inside and outside of work.

5 – Raise awareness around mental health.

As an organization, you can provide mental health resources and support to employees that need it, and re-iterate that you have an open-door policy for discussions on this matter.

6 – Discourage long hours.

There may be times where everybody needs to go the extra mile and put in a long shift, but it shouldn’t be the default. Encourage people to switch off outside the regular working hours. Set guidelines for reasonable after-hours communication to make sure everyone is on the same page.

7 – Be generous with holidays.

You may want to consider a change in the way that employees have to ask for time off. If they don't have to use their holidays for every small thing, they'll likely go above and beyond when the time comes.

8 – Treat everyone with respect.

It sounds obvious, but we’ve all come across companies where top management and “regular” employees are treated differently. That won’t do for purpose-driven companies who place customer satisfaction at the center of everything they do.

Creating an environment where everybody feels valued will increase employee engagement and customer satisfaction because employees are encouraged to value big and small customers.

9 – Cut down on approval processes.

Allow your staff, and management, to make important decisions on their own with regards to scheduling and shifts, without having to get executive management's approval.

10 – Host wellness workshops.

Organizations can host wellness workshops for employees to attend, where they can get a massage or where health experts share valuable advice and insights.

11 – Support a healthy lifestyle for your employees.

You can do this by providing healthy snacks on certain days of the week and even striking a deal with wellness centers or gyms for discounted memberships for your staff.

If employees feel they don't need to beg their supervisor for permission to attend their kid’s piano recital, you'll be fostering a long-term, engaged employee.

Promoting a healthy work-life-balance attitude to your employees makes them feel valued because their personal lives don't have to take a backseat.

Next Steps?

1- Save this article or download our ebook with all the ideas above

2- Pick 5 to 10 employee engagement ideas you want to try in the next 6 months

3- Figure out how to implement the first one in the next 2 weeks and do it

Additional Resources

engagement
company culture
employee retention
WRITTEN BY

The Holaspirit Team

Supporting Organizations on their Teal Journey

The Holaspirit team represents 12 nationalities working across 4 continents to help innovative organizations promote the future of work.