8 employee engagement activities (that don’t suck)

Organize employee engagement activities that actually help your workers. We’ve put together our list of ideas that fit any budget and schedule.

What we'll cover

“Many employees resent compulsory bonding and often regard these exercises as the bane of their workplace existence.”

The 2021 study on building social links within the workplace doesn’t leave any doubt as to how much employees hate employee engagement games.

The phrase “team-building exercises” usually conjures up images of trust falls, overnight retreats away from home, or embarrassing karaoke nights.

In fact, only 11% of employees reported feeling more confident after a day of team building.  

Most employee engagement ideas take hours to organize. You spend more than the assigned budget and still end up boring your employees. That’s even more true if you are trying to engage frontline workers. 

We’ve gathered a list of eight employee engagement activities that fit into frontline workers’ schedules and add real value to their lives, both at work and at home.

Your frontline employees won’t be screaming to go home. 

Why you should care about employee engagement

Engaged employees are happier employees. They work better, improve profitability, and present lower employee turnover. They represent the type of employee you want working for you.

Beverage giant, Molson Coors's HR professionals tracked employee engagement and its influence on employee safety. It found that disengaged employees cost an average of $392 in safety costs while engaged employees’ incidents averaged only $63.

Besides accidents, disengaged employees cost their company about 18% of their annual salary in decreased productivity. They also tend to be less happy in their personal lives.

So having engaged employees are better for companies and workers. Arranging employee engagement activities for your frontline staff is an excellent way to build on this.

8 Employee engagement activities

  1. Engage with employees from day one
  2. Celebrate employees company-wide
  3. Incentivize goals
  4. Consider adding a mentorship program
  5. Aim for perks that boost employee wellbeing
  6. Feedback is important
  7. Encourage a group chat
  8. Let your employees tell you what they want

Team engagement ideas for frontline workers are different than for other workers. With their variable schedules, you can’t arrange lunch dates or after-work get-togethers. 

Here are a few employee engagement initiatives your frontline workers can benefit from.  

1. Engage with employees from day one

Start strong with comprehensive onboarding for new employees. 31% of employees who quit do so in the first six months of starting a job.  So this is an early key driver of employee engagement.

You can start with employee engagement activities like introducing new coworkers, streamlining paperwork, and keeping things friendly. 

New hires require regular guidance, especially from managers, so don’t assume your workers are done onboarding after a few days or weeks. 

2. Celebrate employees company-wide

Share recent accomplishments from frontline staff and office workers to foster a sense of community. Encourage employees to congratulate coworkers on a job well done. 

This helps you connect employees who don’t work in the same location. And employee recognition improves employee retention.

You can make this a regular feature on your company intranet or newsletter. It’s great to celebrate team members who’ve done well in customer service. But you can celebrate birthdays, volunteer work, and educational milestones too.

3. Incentivize goals 

You can have employee engagement games with rewards for meeting goals.

Reward employees who perform well in key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics. The reward can be for a team or an individual. But make sure it’s something your employees like.

You can have one-off gift cards, presents, discounts, or even something like an extra day or two of paid vacation.

4. Consider adding a mentorship program

Do you want your employees to engage with each other, learn valuable skills, and help each other at the same time? 

Try rolling out a mentorship program.

Encourage mentors to meet coworkers outside the workspace and schedule online events. Let workers cross-train in different departments that aren’t in their job description, but they might like to learn about it. Reviewing available employee engagement training programs for line managers will also play a key role in successful mentorship and boosting employee engagement.

5. Aim for perks that boost employee wellbeing

A healthy worker is a productive worker. 

Encourage fun runs, offer free healthy snacks, discount gym memberships, and try to provide flexible scheduling when possible to provide a better work-life balance. You want your workers to be healthy both at home and at work.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even recommends letting workers receive free flu shots on-site. You help keep your workers healthier and show that you care about them having easy access to disease prevention.

6. Ask for – and offer – regular feedback

Gallup research shows employees who receive feedback a few times per week were an average of 10% more productive than those who got feedback only a few times a month. 

Try to schedule activities that give employee feedback, either in a group or one-on-one. Encourage positive and constructive feedback, so the meetings don’t become dreaded.

Take a few hours each week to work with an open door policy so employees can come and meet you as they prefer. Let workers know you’re ready to answer questions about employee performance and go over any concerns they may have.

7. Encourage a group chat 

An employee-focused app is a great way to increase engagement with workers whose schedules aren’t always consistent. The best employee engagement tools should offer this as standard.

Celebrate birthdays, share tips you’ve learned, and announce company news on platform workers can access from anywhere, at any time. Keep the chat as casual or as formal as your organization prefers.

8. Let your employees reward each other

Zappos has great employee engagement programs at their office and warehouses. Some of their rewards include gifting employees with their choice of schwag — products like a gym bag, desk fan, or water bottle — or letting them reward coworkers with a parking spot.

The common denominator in all their rewards programs is encouraging employees to help each other. They let their employees tell them who deserves a reward and promote an environment where people want to engage with others.

employee engagement activities like fun runs and wellness programs improve health.

Final thoughts: employee engagement activities and ideas

Employee engagement activities don’t have to be cringe-inducing icebreakers or karaoke nights that eat into personal time. The main goal is to create a better working environment that people feel good about participating.

Combine the above with following employee engagement best practices and you will be on the right track.

Combine goals like employee wellness and feedback into your campaigns so staff can also see a clear benefit. Workers want to know how they perform and enjoy the initiatives and rewards for their hard work.

Company culture and company values play a role in determining the employee engagement strategy that works for your company. Help employees without thinking about the bottom line.

Empower your employees to give you feedback and listen to what they tell you.

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