As an internal communicator, it’s important to examine what you’ve implemented, and determine what needs to stop, start, or continue.
The way you communicate with your fellow employees doesn’t have to be static. There are countless ways to deliver information, and employee engagement ideas that go beyond planning social events for colleagues.
Are you struggling to engage employees? Are you having a hard time measuring employee engagement?
Have no fear! We’ve compiled a list of our 16 best communications-based and activity-based employee engagement ideas to help increase productivity, strengthen retention, and provide variety for team members.
What is Employee Engagement?
Employee engagement is how attached or invested someone feels to the company they work for, and their role within the organization. Overall, employee engagement is related to higher performance and better business outcomes.
Three key drivers of employee engagement are:
- Committed and trustworthy managers and senior leadership
- Meaningful work in a role
- Positive relationships with co-workers
Employees are people first, and therefore need human support in the places they work.
Now more than ever, internal communicators will be challenged to keep four different generations of employees engaged. The workplace has changed considerably since Baby Boomers first joined the workforce in the late 1960s. However, with Gen Z starting to enter the workforce, you can expect even more rapid change.
Why is Employee Engagement Important?
We looked at the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey for employee engagement statistics and the results are shocking. Of those surveyed, 43% of Millennials and 61% of Gen Zs plan to leave their company in two years. Just 28% of Millennials and 12% of Gen Zs say they plan to stay beyond five years.
Quite frankly, why wouldn’t they? As of October 2019, the U.S. unemployment rate is at the lowest it has been since 1969. On the bright side, many Millennial and Gen Z workers are finding their digital skills are in high demand. It’s a job seeker’s market, and as workplace dynamics continue to shift, employers need to create an optimal employee experience.
As an employer, the benefits of employee engagement and empowerment go much further than just having employees like you. Focusing on employee engagement makes your employees more productive, which positively impacts your bottom line.
16 Ideas to Boost Employee Engagement
1. Seek Out Internal Influencers
It’s important to figure out how your internal audience wants to consume your communications, and identify who your internal influencers are. According to McKinsey, an internal influencer knows exactly what your average employees are experiencing; they are one of them.
Being able to identify influencers and leverage them is paramount for increased employee engagement. Not only that, but you can give these ambassadors the chance to contribute to the brand voice of your company, which will positively impact the company culture.
As an employer, be sure to consider what demographics you have working for you. Younger generations in the workplace love to interact and engage, so give them a voice and let them be heard. One way you could do this by featuring a hardworking employee in each company newsletter. Share their latest achievement or milestone, as well as their story with the company.
Exemplis, one of our customers at ContactMonkey, puts a great deal of focus on two-way communication and the voice of the employee.
“Giving our team the chance to interact with pulse surveys monthly, comments weekly and ratings frequently has allowed us to informally check in on our team without sending another bulky engagement survey. “– Corey Kachigan, Engagement and Communications Lead at Exemplis
By adopting ContactMonkey, Corey and her team were able to gather feedback on what employees cared about, and tailor their messaging to increase employee engagement.
2. Gather Employee Feedback with Surveys and Emoji Reactions
One of the most effective ways to better engage employees is to measure it with software. You can use ContactMonkey to create your employee newsletters, but our internal email tool features eNPS surveys, pulse surveys and emoji reactions to facilitate two-way communication with employees.
If you aren’t quantifying employee engagement, how will you ever know they’re actually engaged with what you send out?
Mettler Toledo, a manufacturing company, uses ContactMonkey to measure employee engagement. Using targeted insights from their employee newsletters, their internal communicators were able to identify which employee segments were not opening newsletters and adjust their strategies accordingly. In this case, they were able to change the time their newsletters were sent, which resulted in a 33% increase in open rates in the disengaged segment.
Here’s an overview of ContactMonkey’s two-way communication features:
1. Emoji Reactions
By adding emoji reaction icons to your communications, you’ll be able to proactively learn what your employees crave. You can easily add emojis to any section of your employee newsletter to gauge employee sentiment. With emoji reactions, your internal communications team can constantly gather feedback in a seamless way. Best of all, it’s quick, easy, and fun for employees.
2. Surveys: Pulse and eNPS
With pulse surveys, you’ll also get actionable data on your email communications in seconds. All you have to do is ask a question, and attach one of our drag-and-drop rating options (like stars) to it. For eNPS, it’s pretty much the same; just attach the 10-scale to the question. You’ll be able to see all of the responses in real time on your ContactMonkey dashboard.
3. Like Buttons
Your employees are already “liking” content on the social media platforms they use off the clock. By adding like buttons to your own internal emails, you’ll be able to engage your employees with your content and actually learn what they like.
4. Anonymous Comments
Go a step further and enable a comment option as part of your internal newsletter with our drag-and-drop email template builder. Comments will enable you to understand exactly how employees feel, and anonymity will encourage more transparent responses. You need to pair comments with a question and a visual element, like star ratings.
Try one – or all – of these features in your company newsletter today. Not only do they add more visual appeal, but they give you more data to work with.
You really need to go above and beyond with your employee engagement ideas if you’re aiming to provide an engaging employee experience for a diverse workforce.
Don’t be afraid to play with video options (and other engaging internal communications tools) to create an authentic and engaged employee experience.
Interview some of your employees on video and showcase this at all your next company-wide events. It’s also a great visual aid to highlight during workshops,or embed within your employee newsletters.
Videos are also a great employee engagement idea for anyone struggling to engage with remote employees. They can be viewed anywhere on almost any modern device, making it easy for remote workers and field workers to have access to this engaging medium.
You can also use video to make company-wide announcements. Even videos filmed on your Smartphone are likely to get more engagement than plain-text updates. Better yet, get a videographer on board to make a short video on the company culture featuring all employees. After all, who doesn’t love the limelight?
4. Internal Communications Campaigns
As an internal communicator, you obviously understand the power of leveraging your inner creativity and imagination to create a holistic employee experience. Don’t be afraid to utilize special events to your advantage to launch an epic employee engagement campaign.
Have you heard of AXA’s internal communications Valentine’s Day campaign? Witnessing a drop in employee engagement levels, AXA’s internal communications team distributed Valentine’s Day cards to employees.
These cards were decorated with the words, “you complete me” on the front. On the back, they asked workers to give feedback on what they liked and what they didn’t about their company.
In case you’re wondering how well this strategy worked, 91% of workers found this exercise a valuable use of their time.
Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to employee engagement ideas.
Game-based learning or gamification can really ignite productivity levels. Introducing fun and play into your organization will enable collaboration and some friendly competition, enhancing employee performance and drive.
You may be scratching your head and wondering if this process involves bringing in a deck of cards?
How exactly is this supposed to make employees engage with their work and actually get more done?2
Don’t overthink gamification.
It could be as simple as adding a trivia contest for each onboarding cohort. This could entail engaging your employees through interactive quizzes on the company’s brand, values and mission statement. The most engaged employees could win prizes. Here are some fun games and activities you can introduce in your office, courtesy of SnackNation.
What a fun way to drill company spirit and brand loyalty into the workplace!
6. Work from Home
Create a company culture where working remotely is an option for employees. Embrace the fact that technological advancements have changed the modern workplace and it may be for the better.
Millennials and other remote workers want this freedom, and many companies are willing to give it to them. A 2019 study by Owl Labs reports that 62% of workers in the United States work remotely at least some of the time, with 11% reporting working remotely once a week.
According to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report for 2019, 72% of talent professionals agree that work flexibility will be very important for the future of HR and recruiting.
Giving employees the option to work from home may actually make them more productive and loyal to your company. 30% of workers would be willing to take a 5% or greater pay cut in exchange for flexible working arrangements.
The ability to work remotely makes employees feel less stressed. Plus it decreases the time and money they need to spend on unpaid commuting. The boost to work-life balance is sure to help keep employees engaged.
If you have an entirely remote workforce by design, or thinking about trying out remote work with some of your teams, use your internal communications as a medium for getting employee feedback on this experience.
There’s always going to be an adjustment period, so it’s important to understand what’s working well, and what needs to change as you go along.
7. Team Events
Speaking of fun and games, team events are a great way to introduce some liveliness into the workplace. Hosting different events that enable cross-collaboration and teamwork across departments can inspire productivity.
Some fun employee engagement ideas include:
- Axe throwing
- Escape rooms
- Murder mysteries
These sorts of activities are great for bonding and breaking up the day-to-day of the work environment. At ContactMonkey, we host company-wide activities every other month.
Before your next awesome company event, make sure you send an awesome invitation to match!
8. Team Lunches
You can start introducing the concept of team lunches with the goal of getting different departments and demographics to interact. When you offer catered lunches for the entire office, you’re demonstrating that you value your employees. As a result they will return that value by staying engaged and loyal to your company.
Lydia, a Toronto office manager, notes:
“I think it’s those little things that make a big difference for employees. They enjoy coming to work, and they feel provided for which incentivizes them to keep working really hard.”
Whether you offer daily or just occasional team meals, this employee activity is a great way of boosting work morale and improving company culture.
Lunch and learns are also becoming quite popular, especially in smaller companies. You can invite a motivational speaker from another company to talk about a specific topic, or get employees to speak about their expertise or passions outside of work.
At ContactMonkey, our marketing team hosts a bi-weekly lunch and learn. For an hour, we share a meal, watch an educational webinar or listen to a podcast, and discuss our key takeaways. It’s a great way to promote professional development and team bonding.
One of our favourite employee engagement ideas for enabling a sense of camaraderie is hosting an interactive team workshop.
You’ll have the opportunity to:
- Gather industry insights from each other
- Learn about what workplace successes and failures
- Brainstorm strategies to deploy and execute in the workplace
Use visual storytelling to brainstorm employee engagement ideas and take them to the next level. Introduce team events in every department and watch as your company’s employee experience changes for the better.
Remember that employees, especially those newer to the workforce, want the opportunity to contribute to their workplace. Improving employee engagement is easy when you treat employees like stakeholders.
Podcasts are a great way to absorb all sorts of information, including topics in your field. Their accessibility makes them worth considering as a medium for internal communications.
Podcasts are also great for:
- Reaching remote workers
- Featuring in-depth employee stories
- Encouraging professional development
- Showcasing company culture
If you’re going to incorporate podcasts into your internal communications, have a plan in place for pre-production, production, post-production, and dissemination of the material. You don’t want to overwhelm your team with tasks, nor do you want to annoy employees with the same information found in a different medium (like your company newsletter).
Have goals in mind, plan out the release of content in your internal communications planning calendar, and ensure they align with those of the business. Don’t have an IC calendar? Grab a template below, on us!
11. Health and Wellness
An employee engagement event centred around health and wellness can be great for improving employee morale and productivity. Try introducing yoga as part of your employee engagement program to optimize the employee experience.
Alternatively, offering benefits like subsidized gym memberships, can go a long way towards making employees feel engaged.
Within the office space, make sure that healthy snacks are readily available. Sugary pop and energy drinks, although tasty, are not the ideal way to nourish your employees and help them with productivity. Be sure to consider dietary restrictions and allergies when selecting items to offer in the kitchen.
12. Awards and Recognition
When thinking about how to interact with employees or making a list of employee engagement ideas, don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Instead of a games night or a holiday party, how about hosting a fun awards ceremony?
It’s a great way to showcase to employees that you appreciate the work that they do, and it doesn’t have to be high budget!
According to Response, it can be as simple as rewarding employees on a Friday afternoon. Or coming up with fun awards such as “Most Creative Employee of the Year,” or “Most Organized Employee.”
You can even spice it up and celebrate the winners in your newsletter, making your awards extra coveted. Everyone likes getting recognition and feedback! Consequently, your internal newsletters are a great avenue to encourage employee engagement.
Play around with ContactMonkey’s email template builder, and find a new style for your employee newsletter.
Employee engagement starts as soon as an employee submits their offer to your company. You are responsible for using the employee engagement ideas available to you to make sure their first impression is a good one.
According to a study by BambooHR, 31% of employed Americans report having quit a job within the first 6 months. A third of those respondents report leaving within the first month.
If there’s a problem with your onboarding, don’t wait until it’s too late. Start engaging your employees as soon as possible. Internal communicators, HR, and management all need to collaborate on onboarding.
Company policies as well as work duties need to be communicated accurately during hiring and onboarding. The responsibility belongs to everyone to make onboarding awesome again.
14. Dress Down Days
Look, we get it. When we picture professional attire we’re probably not picturing ripped jeans and a hoodie. Regardless, norms around workplace dress are changing.
Over 50% of workplaces in the U.S. allow casual dress regularly, and up to 60% allow casual dress sometimes. Even Wall Street titans like Goldman Sachs have relaxed dress codes. They went from business formal to “a manner that is consistent with clients’ expectations.”
Obviously, there are exceptions to what is appropriate. Profanity and immodesty are still out of the question, as are outfits which could pose a safety risk for those working with machinery.
For your average office worker, swapping the tie for a t-shirt could boost morale significantly. Even if your workplace needs to maintain a stricter dress code, consider offering dress down days or Casual Fridays.
To sweeten the pot, many companies offer dress down days in exchange for contributions to a charity initiative. For example, Casual Fridays at some offices come at a minimum donation of $5 to a charity pot. This is a great way to increase employee engagement without impacting the bottom line.
15. Profit Sharing
Ever wonder who the most engaged employees are? They’re the ones with a stake in the company.
Several studies indicate that employees who have a profit stake in the company’s success are more motivated and experience higher levels of job satisfaction.
Employee Stock Option Plans effectively dampened what employees felt were the poor aspects of a job more so than performance related compensation plans.
Obviously it may not be possible to implement stock options for every single employee. You might consider offering stock options for employees who have been with the company for a long time.
This rewards both their past and future loyalty. Plus, this is a great strategy to build employee engagement for newer employees as well, as it gives them a benefit to look forward to.
16. Leadership Office Hours
A common reason employees become disengaged is because they lose sight of their department or company’s goals. The other prominent reason is because they feel disconnected from leadership.
Luckily, the solution doesn’t have to involve extravagant social parties or a disruption to the work day. Simply holding “office hours” where employees are welcome to come in and express their concerns or ask questions can go a long way towards improving employee engagement.
According to McKinsey, about ¼ of working hours are spent by employees looking for information. By creating a forum for people to freely ask questions and raise concerns, information can be found more quickly, and employees can even pitch potential improvements to work processes.
Creating an open line of communication will boost employee engagement. The best part is that office hours are a free and easy way to encourage employee engagement.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list of employee engagement ideas. There are dozens of creative ways you can engage workers. What works for you will depend on what makes your workforce unique. Factors that influence the success of an engagement strategy include:
If you’re in doubt about how you can implement these employee engagement ideas, don’t worry! Get in touch with our team of experts for a free consultation on how you can use your employee newsletter to boost employee engagement.