12 Ideas to Spark Employee Engagement in 2022

Apr 27

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Studies over the past decades show that employee engagement directly impacts a company’s performance and bottom line. For workers to maintain job satisfaction, a sense of connection at work is essential. 

That connection has been steadily declining in recent years, and the dramatic shift to remote and hybrid work models has left employees everywhere feeling isolated, disenfranchised and even abandoned. A survey by BambooHR shows that returning to the office hasn’t improved worker outlooks, and coming up with new ideas to improve employee engagement is more critical than ever.

A good salary can get employees in the door, but it takes more than money to hold onto them. Without opportunities for advancement, respectful treatment from leadership, and belief in the organization’s values, many employees will eventually detach and move on.

We’ve compiled this comprehensive list of ideas to increase employee engagement and kindle connection to help you brainstorm things to do with your team.

1. Listen to your employees 👂

It will come as no surprise to most company leaders that employees tend to engage when they feel heard. When you actively listen to an employee and give them an equitable response, they’re more likely to communicate feelings and challenges they might not otherwise bring up. 

Whether what you tell them is what they want to hear, an open and honest response tells them they’re in the game and not just sitting on the bench. When workers feel listened to, they’re more productive – and walk away with a more positive view of the company’s culture.

How to do it

  • Have an open-door policy so employees can feel free to approach you at any time.
  • Respond to employee suggestions and ideas with a thoughtful, well-rounded reply. 
    • “No” or “That won’t work” will leave them feeling shut down.
    • “We’ve tried that before, and it didn’t work because…” conveys that you’ve heard and considered what they’ve presented to you. 
  • Offer managers and supervisors training courses from Thriver providers to help your leadership sharpen communication skills and find creative ways to engage employees.

2. Give your employees some lunch options 🥗

A lunch offering is a great idea to spark work engagement. An empty belly is distracting and makes for restless and irritable workers. Well-fed employees are more likely to feel content and engaged. Nothing gets a person’s attention quite like the mention of food – it’s no wonder that company-provided lunches have long been a favorite for workers everywhere. 

Feeding your employees tells them that you appreciate them, and it goes both ways – they’re likely to appreciate you right back.

How to do it

  • Bring in a weekly or monthly catered lunch.
  • Contract with a food truck to park outside your office two or three times a week.
  • Call in a guest pop-up restaurant – either as a regularly scheduled event or as a nice mealtime surprise.
  • Offer meal tickets or vouchers to pay for a portion of an employee’s lunch. These also make great rewards for team members who go above and beyond.

Thriver Culture Experts are always happy to discuss catering solutions that would work for your team.

3. Give employees a welcome back surprise 🎉

Many employees hesitate about returning to the office, especially after a long stretch of working remotely. Most are set in their work-from-home routines and aren’t sure what to expect when they walk back through the door at work.

Meet them with a little something that says, “I’m glad you’re back,” and it’ll go a long way toward easing their shift back to the office environment. A great idea for restoring employee engagement at work is to greet them with a heartfelt gift when they return. 

How to do it

  • Put together baskets filled with a mix of useful and whimsical office items, like fidgets, sticky notes, and a box of pens, are just a few ideas your employees may appreciate.
  • For smaller teams, get individualized gifts that fit each employee’s personality and interests.
  • Print up stylish team t-shirts or tote bags with the company logo -maybe even have each employee’s last name printed on the back of a t-shirt.
  • Give them a welcome back meal catered from a favorite restaurant.

4. Inspire wellness in the workplace 🧘‍♂️

Coming back to the pace of an in-person workplace can be pretty jarring after becoming accustomed to a more relaxed – and often more sedentary – remote working environment. Returning employees may be less fit than they were when offices shut down in 2020. Physical fitness helps prevent sluggish afternoons, distracted thoughts and a lack of feeling engaged.

Good physical health enables optimal mental and emotional health. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) highlights that wellness programs promote employee engagement and allow workers to reach their potential. 

How to do it

  • Set aside a space where employees can exercise.
  • Provide them with access to an online workout series.
  • Subsidize gym memberships for employees. 
  • Give your team a swag bag – packed with workout gear and a water bottle – to encourage healthy living.
  • Start a wellness newsletter with tips and tricks for better health to help employees look after their physical wellbeing.
  • Offer your employees a course like the Workplace Wellness Series to get them back on the road to fitness and wellness at work.

5. Encourage employee mental health 💫

Millions of people working remotely during a global pandemic has put an enormous strain on the collective mental health of the workforce, and it’s more important than ever before for employers to foster emotional well-being and encourage workers to take care of their mental health.

How to do it

  • Encourage employees to take mediation breaks to center themselves and regain focus.
  • Implement a flextime tool to encourage employees to take a mental health day when they need it.
  • Offer company-subsidized mental health care, like sessions with an online counselor.
  • Promote employee well-being with a workshop like the Mindfulness Series.

6. Grow communication in your teams 🧑‍🤝‍🧑

The decline in employee engagement has a lot to do with decreased communication. Video meetings and chat indeed provide vehicles to interact with each other, but they’re poor substitutes for real-life, in-person interaction. Vital non-verbal elements of personal interaction are lost over the screen and hard to replicate digitally. 

How to do it

  • Lead communication exercise sessions and activities that build team engagement.
  • Hold short, daily meetings to discuss work topics, and encourage each team member to offer input.
  • Offer a workshop like Stronger Teams Series. Programs like these offer activities for fostering work engagement among teams.

7. Help prevent burnout in employees 💆

The mental fatigue that comes with stress at work can quickly lead to burnout. 

The best ideas to improve employee engagement include stress reduction and burnout prevention programming that can help restore balance at work and enhance your company culture.

How to do it

  • Encourage employees to step away from their desks for a bit of downtime.
  • Provide a space where employees can take a mental break.
  • Give workers the option to flex their time when possible.
  • Offer a workshop or seminar that focuses on stress reduction and burnout prevention.
  • Plan fun activities that promote employee engagement, like a game night or scavenger hunt.

8. Give your employees a path to advancement 📈

Opportunities for development and advancement are key drivers of employee engagement. Most people won’t remain engaged for very long if there’s no way to move up in an organization. 

If your employees know there’s room to grow with the company and a path for advancement, they’re much more likely to remain engaged. 

How to do it

  • Layout clearly, in writing, the steps necessary to advance within your company.
  • Develop a mentoring program to help higher-ups identify and support potential leaders for the future. 
  • Offer professional development courses for employees interested in working their way up in your company. You can find some development training ideas on our marketplace.

9. Strengthen team-building and collaboration  🤝

The solitude and disconnection from colleagues has left many workers feeling adrift, without the support from their teammates that they had once enjoyed. The irony is that their teammates are likely feeling the same way, and nobody knows how to express it. As a company leader, it’s up to you to recognize this disconnect and provide team engagement ideas and solutions that turn it around for everybody.  

How to do it

  • Schedule regular team meetings and workgroups to stimulate collaboration.
  • Join employees in team-building and collaboration workshops.
  • Plan smart, fun, in-office employee engagement activities that everyone will enjoy.

Build up team spirit in your organization with fun team activities offered on Thriver marketplace.

10. Plan retreats that strengthen company culture ⛰️

Monotony often whittles away at employee resolve and focus, which inevitably impacts productivity and the bottom line. A change of scenery is an ideal solution to washing away the mental strain of tedium and getting employees back on track. Company retreats are a great resource to engender company culture. Well-planned excursions are enjoyable, foster unity among workgroups, and promote valuable team collaboration. 

How to do it

11. Reward employees who do well 🏆

Implement employee engagement initiatives that focus on individual performance and employees’ demonstration of company values. Give out awards and rewards to employees that exhibit the best of what your organization has to offer. 

Rewards don’t have to be expensive gifts, piles of cash, or flashy trophies. A simple certificate that outlines the award, the reason for the award, and the employee’s name, along with an item of some value, such as a modest gift box or gift card to a local business, are usually successful in letting a worker know that their company appreciates them.

How to do it

  • Have a monthly raffle. Each time an employee impresses or goes above and beyond, put a ticket in the raffle bucket for a chance to win something nice at the monthly drawing.
  • Give a monthly or quarterly employee-recognition award for embodying company values and doing great work.

Hop on and see some excellent employee reward ideas offered on our marketplace.

12. Get employees involved 🎯

There is probably no better way to get employees engaged than by getting them involved. When their work becomes more than just a series of deadlines and tasks and elevates to duties that serve an overarching objective, it instills a sense of purpose. Looping employees in on the big picture and giving them a clear idea of their role in the grand scheme of things does wonders in directing their focus and making them feel connected.

How to do it

  • Provide information on the organization’s direction as transparently as is reasonable during weekly meetings.
  • Seek employee input on directions the company could be taking and plans you could be implementing.
  • Give employees individual projects with clear communication on how they fit into the company’s bigger picture.

Being as transparent as possible instills trust and breeds good faith.

These are just a few employee engagement ideas for the office. From employee retreat options to inspiration for employee acknowledgment, you can find all of the company culture, professional development, and workplace wellness options on Thriver. Thriver’s Culture Experts thoroughly vet all marketplace providers to ensure you and your employees have an authentic experience, whatever employee engagement initiatives you decide are best for your team.

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