7 Cool Activities to Improve Employee Engagement

happy employee engagement

One of the most popular tropes about having a 9-to-5 job is that who you are in the workplace is different from who you are in real life. And while this may be true in some instances, there’s no denying that being inauthentic at work is one of the main reasons why even some of the best employees quit.

A company’s profit and output are usually determined by how healthy and happy their workforce is. To make sure that your company doesn’t get left behind, here are some simple but effective ways your HR department can keep your staff engaged and productive.

Here are seven cool activities to improve employee engagement.

1. Have ‘Breakfast Buffet’ Mondays

Everyone knows that going to work on Monday can be challenging. The idea of spending another 40 hours within the confines of your office is jarring at best and terrifying at worst. But while these feelings are quite normal, they’re also known to dampen efficiency.

That said, you can motivate employees to come in early by offering a yummy incentive via a breakfast buffet, which you can set up from 8am to 10am so that everyone has a chance to catch up before going back to their desks. Not only does this foster stronger and better working relationships between coworkers, but it also helps to improve the team’s overall performance.

Indeed, groups that share meals perform better because of stronger social bonds, according to a 2015 study by Cornell University. Its author, Professor Kevin Kniffin further explains: ‘From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces’. In simpler terms: the team that eats together stays together.

2. Celebrate Other Traditions

Research shows that businesses that provide more inclusive environments perform financially better than their competitors. And if your company already has a great mix of employees, then – first of all – congratulations! You’re one step there. But creating a multicultural workforce goes beyond hiring people of different backgrounds and preferences; it also means integrating their culture into the company’s own.

Whether it’s celebrating Pride Month or Cinco de Mayo, getting to know more about your staff and their culture will eliminate the feeling of them being just another cog in the wheel. More importantly, it will make them feel like family, and everyone knows that’s what turns good businesses into great companies.

3. Offer ‘Work from Wherever’ Wednesdays

Some people do a better job working remotely, while others are more productive in an office setting. Get the best of both worlds by offering your employees an option to work from wherever they want every Wednesday. Not only does this ease the pressure by breaking the workweek into two, but it also teaches employees to manage their time better.

It’s the same principle behind Google’s 20% policy where they allow their engineers to devote 20% or one full day of their week to do whatever they want. Google believes that if employees are given additional leeway, they will devote more time and energy on the remaining four days of the workweek while still using their free time to come up with creative ideas for the company. Providing employees with the freedom of choice not only empowers them but it’s also a sign of trust that they’ll greatly appreciate.

4. Send ‘Word of The Day’ Emails

It’s a well-known fact that learning a new language enhances brain function, but its impact goes well beyond the individual level. In fact, in a 2017 survey from the Economist, two-thirds of 572 multinational executives said that the multicultural and multilingual natures of their team drive their organisation’s innovation.

The notion that language can help drive innovation is the force behind linguistic determinism, a popular school of thought that believes language goes beyond communication; it also has the power to shape someone’s cultural beliefs and thought processes. For example, Filipinos don’t distinguish between the pronouns ‘he’ or ‘she’. They simply refer to the other person as ‘siya.’ This is the reason why some native speakers often confuse the two genders. However, it also indicates that Filipinos have a mostly gender-neutral culture (at least prior to colonisation) which doesn’t discriminate between sexes.

Research suggests that it’s this difference in thinking that allows multilingual companies to come up with more innovative solutions to real-world problems. Employees approach challenges from different angles as influenced by their own language.

To reap the benefits of a multilingual workforce, try incorporating language lessons through ‘word of the day’ emails or by asking staff members to contribute a part of their time to teach basic phrases in their own native language to coworkers.

5. Personalise It

There was a time when the line between professional and personal development was much clearer. But, nowadays, priorities of the workforce have shifted with younger employees caring less about scoring big job titles and acquiring corner offices.

According to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report, 94% of millennials like using their skills to benefit a cause, while 57% want more companywide service days. This generational shift presents a new challenge among managers and HR practitioners. In order to attract and retain the best and the brightest of the workforce, they must address both personal and professional goals to ensure proper employee development.

One of the activities HR practitioners can do is teach managers how to have one-on-one sessions and create growth plans with their staff. Any time a new employee comes in, or at the beginning of every new work cycle, managers can engage their staff better by asking for a list of things they want to achieve within the year. The list doesn’t always have to be limited to work goals; it can include other objectives, as well, like learning how to code or practice yoga.

Help employees work towards these goals by making sure they set aside time during the week to accomplish them. Better yet, try to integrate these initiatives as part of a small team-building exercise. By making them feel like their goals are equally important as that of the company’s, employees will feel empowered and personally invested in ensuring the company’s overall success. 

6. Prioritise Health and Wellness

Studies show that there’s a strong correlation between workplace stress and poor physical and mental health. However, it remains one of the least addressed concerns in the workplace.

You can make health and wellness a priority in your company by offering gym memberships at a discounted company rate or by conducting free sessions inside the office that employees can join. If there’s available space, you can even install gym equipment in break rooms that they can use in between work hours.

But if you’re on a limited budget, something as simple as requiring them to stop and take a break from work can also be helpful (in France, it’s even required by the law!) or, better yet, creating a policy where employees aren’t allowed to answer work emails after hours. By sending a strict message on the importance of wellness, you’re not only creating a healthy workforce, but a happy one, as well.

7. Post Social Media Snippets

One of the best and simplest ways to make your employees feel like they belong is by including them in the company’s social media assets (provided that they approve it, of course). You can do this by uploading a behind-the-scenes video of how they work or by posting an image of their creative but chaotic cubicles. Showcasing the importance of their work can boost employee morale. Not only that but it’s also a great way to market your organisation and attract other potential employees.

Ensuring employee engagement doesn’t have to involve expensive out-of-town trips (not that we’re discouraging it!) and time-consuming activities. Sometimes, all you need is little splash of creativity and a whole lot of inclusivity.

What kind of activities do you do to increase employee engagement? Sound off in the comments section below!