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13 Creative Employee Engagement Activities (That Aren’t Cheesy)

13 Creative Employee Engagement Activities (That Aren't Cheesy)

Engaged employees are much happier and more motivated at work, and it shows in their performance. A Gallup survey reported that highly engaged teams are 21 percent more productive on a daily basis—and that’s not all. Research shows that employee engagement makes teams more profitable, reduces voluntary turnover, and leads to better outcomes all around.

What’s more, disengaged employees cost organizations something like $450 billion to $550 billion a year. Employee turnover is also at an all-time high, which has pushed many employers to explore innovative ways of engaging team members to keep them from jumping ship. But although most employers today recognize employee engagement as a top priority, improving and maintaining it can be challenging. That’s why companies are always looking for new, creative ways to engage employees and retain top talent.

Here are 13 of our favorite creative employee engagement ideas—and we promise they aren’t cheesy!

13 Creative Employee Engagement Activities

  1. Bring in a guest speaker
  2. Enhance the digital workplace
  3. Make the workplace fun
  4. Plan team-building activities
  5. Recognize employee wins
  6. Cut the office cubicles
  7. Offer growth opportunities
  8. Host lunch-and-learns
  9. Start a mentor program
  10. Volunteer as a team
  11. Celebrate your people
  12. Begin a wellness program
  13. Provide and request feedback

1. Bring in a guest speaker

Whether it’s a creative exercise or a motivational presentation, bringing in the right guest speaker can be a major source of inspiration for employees. Members of your team will not only appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow with the organization, but they will also feel more energized after hearing a new perspective.

2. Enhance the digital workplace

By investing in an employee communication tool such as Slack and building a digital employee directory with org chart software like Pingboard, you can enhance the digital workplace, help employees put faces to names, and boost engagement in the process. Improving your company’s digital workspace is also a great way to connect your dispersed workforce and protect remote employees from becoming disengaged, which is difficult to accomplish from a distance—at least without the right digital resources at your disposal.

3. Make the workplace fun

The physical workplace is just as important as the digital one. Adding things like video and board games, TVs, snacks, employee-generated music playlists, and other fun office perks can make a big difference in employee engagement and the company culture as a whole. Encourage your team members to decorate their desks to reflect their individual personalities as much as possible—the more your employees enjoy the work environment, the more likely they are to stay with your organization.

4. Plan team-building activities

Team-building activities are a great way to increase employee engagement and encourage workplace friendships. Studies have shown time and time again that quality work friendships are directly linked to job satisfaction and engagement. In fact, a survey revealed that employee satisfaction improves by nearly 50 percent when employees develop close relationships at work. 

Whether it’s an escape room, a sporting event, a scavenger hunt, or something else entirely, social activities can make all the difference when it comes to engagement. Search for fun activities in your area and survey employees to learn which they’d enjoy most. You should also plan different activities throughout the year to ensure everyone is able to participate at some point.

5. Recognize employee wins

Sixty-nine percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. Whether they’re big or small, celebrating employee achievements is a great way to recognize members of your team while also increasing engagement and retention. There are a number of different ways you can celebrate employee achievements, from handing out Starbucks gift cards to reward a job well done to holding a company toast at the end of a big project.

6. Cut the office cubicles

Cubicles make it difficult for employees to interact and collaborate in the workspace. On the other hand, an open floor plan helps break down barriers to create a more modern, active environment where employees thrive. You can also improve the workspace by eliminating harsh fluorescent lighting and setting up standing desk stations that allow employees to take a break from sitting.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Employees today care more about learning and development than ever before—so much, in fact, that a recent survey revealed that 86 percent of professionals said that they would change jobs if they were offered more opportunities for professional development. Work with employees to help them set professional development goals and track progress over time. Whether it’s improving on public speaking skills, learning a new skill or software program, or attending an industry event, members of your team will appreciate growth opportunities.

8. Host lunch-and-learns

Breaking bread is always a good way to break the ice and get to know other members of the team while also learning about a relevant topic or tool. Consider booking a guest speaker or bringing in one of your company’s executives to present during a lunch meeting at your office. This will help further engage employees with a fun alternative to the regular workday while also exposing them to new ideas. (And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a free lunch?!)

9. Start a mentor program

Starting a mentor program is a great opportunity to engage employees while also connecting them with other members of the team. Studies have shown millennial employees would like to spend more time during each workweek discussing new ideas and ways of working. Pingboard’s searchable employee directory makes it easy for team members to find a mentor based on their skills, experience, and role within the organization.

10. Volunteer as a team

A Deloitte survey found that 89 percent of respondents believe companies that sponsor volunteer activities offer a better work environment overall. Volunteering is a great team-building activity that gets employees out of the office while also fulfilling your company’s social responsibility. Survey your team to learn which causes and organizations they would be most interested in helping and offer opportunities for them to volunteer as a team throughout the year. Websites such as VolunteerMatch, Catchafire, and All for Good are excellent resources that can help you find volunteer opportunities in your area.

11. Celebrate your people

Whether it’s a birthday, a work anniversary, a baby on the way, an engagement, or something else entirely, celebrating employee milestones is a great way to engage members of your team. According to a Globoforce report, employees are nearly two times more likely to say their company is a good place to work when they are satisfied with the celebration of important life events in the workplace. Celebrating people and the big events in their lives will go a long way in showing them they’re a valued member of the team. Tools like Pingboard make remembering these milestones simple, with automatic notifications for things such as employee birthdays and work anniversaries.

12. Begin a wellness program

Holding a fitness challenge is a great way to build a wellness program that engages employees and encourages them to participate. Employee perks such as desk yoga, healthy snacks, in-office massages, fitness challenges, and wellness fairs can boost morale and demonstrate your commitment to your team’s physical and mental well-being. Digital tools such as Limeade and Pacer for Teams are useful for incentivizing and tracking wellness initiatives to inspire employees to participate and measure progress toward wellness goals.

13. Provide and request feedback

Four out of 10 employees are actively disengaged when they get little to no feedback. Managers should meet with team members for one-on-ones each week to touch base, provide feedback on their performance, and offer the opportunity for them to ask any questions or raise any concerns they have. Feedback should be a two-way street. Anonymous employee surveys are a great way to collect feedback and learn from members of your team; however, it’s not enough to simply collect feedback and move on—it’s critical that you take action to make real changes and show employees that they’re being heard.

Increasing employee engagement doesn’t have to be boring or cheesy—in fact, it shouldn’t be! The right creative ideas can transform your corporate culture and ensure your employees are happy, productive, and engaged at work.

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Cameron Nouri
by Cameron Nouri
I am the Director of Growth at Pingboard. I consider myself an entrepreneur at heart. I love trying new things and taking educated risks on new ventures, both professionally and in my personal life. I bring that passion to work everyday where I enjoy helping others discover the power that Pingboard can unlock.