7 Employee Engagement Activities That Will Actually Work

October 3, 2016

One of the most quoted business statistics is also one of the most daunting – as of 2015, Gallup reported that a mere 32 percent of American employees were engaged with their jobs.

That leaves 68 percent of American employees who are either unengaged or actively unengaged at work, which Gallup reports cost the United States alone hundreds of billions of dollars in lost productivity.

To defeat this problem, organizations are more commonly investing in employee engagement activities, in an effort to improve that number. Unfortunately, while trust falls might be a nice break from the daily grind, it appears to be doing little to increase the commitment level of the average worker.

So what sort of employee engagement activities actually work? As in, which ones will actually boost morale and make people care about their jobs?

Well, here are seven employee engagement activities employees that will actually make employees more engaged:

1. An honest conversation about their career.

LinkedIn research has found the biggest reason people switch jobs is for career opportunity. The point – people really care about achieving their goals.

Hence, having an honest conversation with an employee about their career aspirations is one of the best employee engagement activities you can do. If you can find out what the employee wants in their career, and then show them a path to getting there, you’ll drastically increase the chances they’ll be engaged.

2. Bring in a speaker that’ll inspire them.

Employees – particularly great employees – want to learn. They want to be inspired. And one of the best ways you can achieve that is to bring in an expert in their field – or even just someone they admire – to come in and talk.

For bigger companies with bigger budgets, this could be a well-known name. But even smaller companies can make this happen by having a person of excellence at their company – say, their top salesperson – talk to other employees in their field about their success and how they achieved it. 

3. Give them the opportunity to learn a new skill.

As mentioned in the first point, great people want to advance their career. And to do that, they need to learn new skills.

So give them both the tools and the opportunity to learn those new skills. That’ll show employees you care about their own career goals, while also making them more effective at their current jobs.

4. Allow time for them to work on something their passionate about.

Google famously does this with their “20 percent time”, where workers are allowed to spend 20 percent of their workweek on something they are passionate about.

Perhaps 20 percent is a lot, but you should give your employees the freedom to work on things they are passionate about. First off, this will make them more engaged, as they’ll be that much more excited to come to work each day. But those passion projects could also turn into the next big innovation for your organization.

5. Have senior leadership meet with all employees and encourage venting.

A big part of having an engaged workforce is creating an honest and open workplace. And that just doesn’t mean leadership being honest and open with employees, but also giving employees the opportunity to be open and honest with leadership.

Therefore, you should create some system at your company where people are not just allowed but encouraged to vent their frustrations to upper management, without repercussion. It is far better for management to know about problems and then try to correct them, as opposed to ignoring them and letting them boil under the surface.

6. Let employees work in other areas of the business.

People want to advance their careers, but sometimes they aren’t even sure exactly where they want their career to advance to. You can facilitate that by allowing them to work in other areas of the business.

So let marketers sit in on a few sales calls each month, or let customer service reps work in production. This will increase engagement and give your people a more holistic view of your organization.

7. Hold a team happy hour (or softball game or something else fun).

We just dropped six heavy employee engagement activities, but there’s certainly room for fun as well. Trust falls might be a little ridiculous, but a team happy hour or a scavenger hunt are great ways to build morale and allow your people to form authentic relationships with each other.

These events alone won’t make your employees engaged, but they can certainly help. After all, there’s never anything wrong with your people having some fun at work.

*Image from Wikipedia Commons