32 Employee Engagement Ideas with Real Examples
What are you basic expectations for your employees?
- Arrive to work on time and get in a full eight hour day
- Finish their work and meet deadlines
- Be a personable co-worker who participates in work activities
Sure, those are key expectations for any work environment. They don’t, however, reflect how engaged an employee is with their work. Anyone can complete their work in a timely manner and be pleasant to work with, but that doesn’t mean they're driven to excel at their job and yield impactful results.
To take your team to the next level you need to get them engaged. No...not like marriage engaged. That’s probably illegal. We’re talking about employee engagement, and it’s hugely important.
Let’s take a look at some tried and true employee engagement ideas and activities that can help get you started with your program.
32 Employee Engagement Ideas
1 - Grow Skills with Job Training & Conferences
Regular job training helps employees develop skills and feel more satisfied and engaged with work as they apply their learnings to new challenges. Conferences are another easy way to help your team grow their skills and network with other experts and exchange ideas.
Fintech company Braviant Holdings offers employees up to $4,500 to use toward relevant events, conferences, workshops or professional development programs. They also have an internal leadership program to provide managers with the knowledge and resources to enhance their leadership skills. According to Braviant, “it’s especially important for us to foster an environment where employees are encouraged to stretch their abilities and think about new ways to add value.”
2 - Reimburse Tuition and Education Expenses
Education reimbursement and stipends encourage employees to learn outside of the office and bring new ideas back to their daily work. At Pitchbook, one of the top characteristics they look for in new employees is a desire to learn, and they quench that thirst with various education-related benefits. Some of their top benefits include industry training, tuition reimbursement programs and and an annual education stipend.
3 - Celebrate Individual Milestones
Celebrating major achievements lets employees know their work is valued. Whether it’s closing a deal or launching a new product, the people who made it happen will feel appreciation for their hard work. EdTech company RedShelf celebrates all the milestones. From birthdays to work anniversaries, promotions and significant accomplishments, the company loves celebrating its people and sees it as an opportunity to strengthen their culture by acknowledging the big and little ways people contribute to the greater goal.
4 - Offer Mentorship Opportunities
Mentors help employees learn from senior leaders, resulting in improved employee engagement, productivity and retention. Calant Technologies supports individual team members with mentors, like their Principal Engineer Rick Keilty, who spends the better part of his day mentoring the engineering team and building a better experience for new engineers on their team.
5 - Promote Side Projects
Side projects allow employees to pursue an independent passion, which often leads to greater accomplishments for the company as a whole. Providing opportunities to work on passion projects is a big perk for a certain Colorado tech company. “We have benefits like flexible working hours and home office which makes pursuing projects easier, and the team also frequently works on open source projects,” says Andy McEvoy, Co-founder of PickNick Robotics.
6 - Utilize A Suggestion Box
Suggestion boxes may seem old school, but they’re still a great way for people to submit ideas and opinions and remain anonymous if they so choose. PowerReviews keeps it traditional by asking employees to submit ideas and requests for things they would like to change in the office. They recently used this feedback to guide the decision making process when they redesigned their office. Ensuring your team feels heard is critical for employee engagement, so don't overlook the basics.
7 - Host Hackathons
Hackathons and brainstorming sessions get the creative juices flowing and provide an opportunity for people to share ideas and get involved in new projects. Formlabs frequently hosts hackathons for employees to take an idea they have and run with it, and the results have led to some major inspiration and changes around their office. Employees have created stunning art installations, custom foosball players and a rock climbing wall.
8 - Establish An Open Door Policy
Scheduled open door time provides employees of all levels with an invitation to chat with higher-ups about their ideas and concerns. Ayzenberg Group is passionate about understanding the personality of its team, so they have regular ask-me-anything town hall meetings and encourage an open door policy to ensure that people are always comfortable to share their ideas and opinions.
9 - Organize Lunch & Learns
Lunch and learns are a quick and convenient way to educate employees about a topic of interest. Sisense regularly hosts lunch and learns that feature different teams to help others better understand what different people do and build a more connected organization. These types of events are fairly low lift, and teams gain a better understanding of how everyone contributes to the greater mission.
10 - Host Happy Hours
Happy hours and company outings are important opportunities for employees to bond and discuss topics outside of work. It’s certainly easier understand a person’s real intent through an email when you know them on a personal level. “There’s never pressure to attend, but they offer an opportunity for us to get to know each other on a personal level outside of the workplace,” says Leigh Fowler, Senior Instructional Designer at Inspirant Group.
11 - Implement Diversity and Inclusion Training
There is always room for improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and companies are investing in training, bringing in experts and partnering with external organizations to meet their goals. Medallia is constantly reviewing their recruiting process, analyzing hiring rates for diverse demographics and evaluating the language they use and requirement qualifications in job descriptions. They also partner with external organizations to help them find diverse talent and create internship opportunities to support candidates transitioning into full-time careers.
12 - Encourage Employee Surveys
Surveys provide managers and HR with direct feedback on how they can improve communication, culture, benefits packages and individual issues. MatchCraft utilizes online tools to monitor employee happiness and streamline semi-annual reviews. "We host brainstorming sessions and conduct surveys to ensure that all of our employees’ opinions and suggestions are heard," say Nicole Webb and Alisa Redgrift, members of MatchCraft's People+Culture team. These surveys help them set quarterly goals with measurable metrics.
13 - Offer Healthy food
Healthy snacks and meals encourage employees to stay balanced even when they have unhealthy cravings. It also saves them time and money planning meals in their personal life. As a platform that gives people insight into their health, fitness and diet, Helix encourages its employees to take on healthy habits by providing nutritious daily meals, comprehensive health insurance, fitness subsidies and FSA options.
14 - Offer wellness Activities & an Onsite Gym
On-site gyms make working out before or after work more convenient, and employees may even band together to reach personal fitness goals. CA Technologies is growing rapidly, and along the way, they are adopting healthy benefits anywhere they can. In addition to an onsite gym, they also offer a flexible spending account for wellness. And, of course, they offer traditional benefits like health, disability and dental insurance as well as vision benefits.
15 - Prioritize Mental health
Mental health services are far too often overlooked. Mental health is as important as physical health, and it’s important to ensure employees are getting the resources they need. Quartet provides up to 12 in-person therapy sessions for employees and their family members each year. They also offer a behavioral health co-pay reimbursement, which covers outpatient mental health visits for both in-network and out-of-network providers.
16 - Offer Fitness Classes & Subsidies
In-house athletic classes are great if you are in a building without a gym, and even if you don't have a gym, you can probably find space to host a quick morning yoga or Zumba class. Golden Hippo has an on-site CrossFit gym with showers and lockers, and they offer yoga and meditation classes three times each week. Fitness subsidies are another great option for offices that can’t offer on-site fitness programs, and they also allow employees to explore their own health interests.
17 - Support Athletic Clubs
Recreational clubs and teams motivate people to stay active and come together via common athletic interests. As an electronic health records company, it makes sense that Athenahealth offers a wide range of wellness benefits, including an in-house gym, bi-monthly chair massages and running and biking paths. Their team also created several athletic clubs, including a company-sponsored kickball team, soccer club, running groups, rock climbing and cycling. If that wasn’t enough, they also have a two-person kayak for employees to paddle around the nearby lake.
18 - Provide Competitive Insurance Packages
Great insurance packages are a must. Depending on the demographics of your employees, certain packages will be more beneficial than others so take the makeup of your workforce into account. TripAdvisor offers 100% coverage on employee medical insurance along with competitive contribution rates for family coverage to ensure everyone at their company receives the medical attention they need without worrying about any financial burden.
19 - Help Employees Get Out & Get Fit
Outdoor spaces are a great way for employees to grab a breath of fresh air without having to go too far afield or wait for a longer break to enjoy some time with mother nature. RX Bar designed their office with their values in mind to optimize creativity, productivity and innovation. The office is set up with open seating, bright walls and fantastic views of Chicago. They also have an outdoor space and standing desks with different layouts on each of their floors.
20 - Make it Pet Friendly
Pets help reduce employee stress and improve happiness by allowing them to engage with something that’s always happy to see them. Lumi has an official dog-in-residence named Flexo who serves as their ‘official goodwill ambassador.’ Every new hire is first greeted by Flexo, and he is sure to bring a smile to everyone he encounters throughout the day. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of having pets in the office as an outlet for reducing stress and providing a constant source of joy (and potential havoc).
21 - Keep the Office Open & collaborative
Open floor plans encourage communication among colleagues and feel less isolating than cubicles or individual offices. Not everyone loves the concept, though, so make sure to gather feedback before going this route. Dish created an open atmosphere by removing the ceilings to expose the building’s structure and plenty of natural light.
22 - Furnish with Flexible Seating
Flexible ergonomic seating is majorly beneficial for health and wellness, and having the flexibility to change the way you work can enhance creativity. Opcity Inc offers just that. In their office, every employee is equipped with an adjustable ergonomic chair to keep comfortable and healthy. Other companies, like Indigo, invest in adjustable standing desks, so that people can mix it up throughout the day.
23 - Optimize your Office Design
Natural light and color pallet have surprising effects on mood and productivity, so don’t be afraid to slap on a fresh coat of paint. The photo above is from the inside of Amperity’s office. The huge walls of windows provide optimal natural light in the Seattle office with views of Mount Rainier in one direction and Mount Baker in the other. Not only are the views gorgeous, but on sunny days, they can reduce fluorescent lighting, a common contributor to eye strain and blurred vision.
24 - Create Office Game Rooms
Games give people a quick outlet to step away from their desk and challenge their minds and bodies all while bonding with colleagues in a fun way before returning to work. Markforged's office is decked out with ping pong tables and video games, including a conference room with gaming consoles, bean bags and couches to help employees step away and play a few games or just relax.
25 - Offer Sabbaticals
Sabbaticals are long term paid leaves that allow employees to travel or dive deep into a passion project they’ve never had the time to pursue. In addition to paid holidays, Drift offers its employees a month long sabbatical after working there for three years. A month is a long and much-deserved time to work on a passion project, travel or get some good ol’ R&R.
26 - Encourage Remote work
Remote work is said to increase productivity by 50%, and it further allows employees to work around their daily schedule. InVision considers itself a “remote-first” company that allows its employees to work anywhere they want. Each employee receives a MacBook on their first day, along with unlimited free Starbucks and half-day Fridays, the company genuinely supports its employees' work-life balance with remote opportunities.
27 - Prioritize Family Life
Parental leave helps new parents adjust to the major change of adding another member to their family without sacrificing their career. Alteryx offers a wealth of perks and benefits for working parents, including adoption assistance and 100% salary for six weeks after birth. Mothers are also eligible for maternity disability leave for another six weeks of paid leave. They also have an annual bring your children to work day along with other kid-friendly events throughout the year to help enhance work-life balance.
28 - Support Flexible Work Hours
Flexible work hours allow people to better incorporate their personal lives into their busy work schedule, reduce stress and improve overall satisfaction. Flexible work schedules and parental leave are some favorite benefits at Workiva, helping employees better balance their lives and excel at work and home.
29 - Provide Time Off to Volunteer
Paid volunteer time encourages people to engage in some social good without sacrificing pay or feeling guilty about leaving work. Volunteering is core to Carbon Black's culture. The company has a dedicated culture club that plans social responsibility outings to take time off, bring the team together and give back to their local community.
30 - Boost your Child Care Benefits
Child care benefits help parents choose the right care and feel more at ease without having to weigh the steep cost of child care. To help new parents adjust, RetailMeNot offers primary caregivers up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave and non-primary caregivers four weeks of leave. When they return to work, employees are able to work 75% of their original schedule with full pay to adjust to a life with a new family member. They also offer new parents a generous baby bonus to help with the new cost of raising children in addition to local childcare discounts and subsidized childcare costs.
31 - Offer Adoption Assistance
Adoption assistance helps families grow no matter how they choose to do so and supports them as they adjust to a new member. For families looking to adopt, Paylocity offers six weeks of paid parental leave. They also provide $5,000 of pre-tax assistance to help offset adoption expenses.
32 - Reduce Stress with Family Medical Leave
Family medical leave reduces the stress that employees undergo when a family member requires medical attention. MojoTech has an all-inclusive family leave policy that considers more than just parents or gender. Everyone receives a six week paid family leave that can be used to either welcome a new family member or to take care of a sick or elderly family member.