25 Employee Engagement Ideas to Motivate Your Team in 2021

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Want to improve employee engagement? You’re not alone. Faced with a multigenerational workforce and a growing number of self-employed, employers are soul-searching. 

The good news: an effective employee experience strategy increases employee engagement. It also boosts your business’s bottom line.

In fact, motivated employees are more productive. They also stay longer. Significantly, some sources even suggest that employee recognition can lead to 50% higher productivity.

This article will help you understand what employee engagement means. Best of all, it will show you 25 ways to increase it. 

Ready, set, engage!

Employment Engagement in 2021

Amidst high employee turnover and increasing specialization, employers are bent on finding and keeping talent.
Justifiably so. After all, it’s their only chance to keep up with a newly digitized, streamlined world.

Modern day employees should stand out in their field of expertise like a differently colored ball

By the way, guess what? Improving the employee experience has remarkable benefits for employers. Motivation is an offshoot of employee experience. That means creating a motivating culture is better business.

Employment Engagement During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Keeping employees engaged during the pandemic is challenging. Many workers are on furlough. Others are working remotely – some part-time, some full-time.

In such times, showing appreciation is more important than ever. Why? Because employee engagement and motivation go hand in hand with company productivity. In short, to thrive, you need engaged employees.

What Is Employee Engagement?

The new “Employee Experience” or “EX” trend on the conference circuit may have misled you about what you should be doing for employees.

In fact, employee experience has multiple facets. Here’s a breakdown of them:

  • Employee Experience: The culmination of an employee’s relationship with the organization. It combines every interaction an employee has with the company.
  • Employee Engagement: The emotional involvement with and commitment to one’s organization and role. Its source: myriad other factors related to the company and its mission.
  • Employee Motivation: The energy, commitment, and creativity one is willing to extend towards the job and company goals. This element of employee experience is rooted in the organization’s actions.
  • Employee Recognition: The act of acknowledging the work of a team or individual. This promotes future good work and reinforces company goals. It, too, traces back to a company’s actions.
  • Employee Appreciation: The actions an organization takes to show appreciation for its workers.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes how we human beings prioritize our needs. Interestingly, it’s the perfect model for understanding employee engagement.

Which needs are we talking about? Have a look:

  • Survival, or the acquisition of basic needs. This need covers food and shelter. In a fundamental sense, it also means employment. To meet this need, pay a living wage.
  • Security, or the inference of safety. This implies continued employment and access to survival tools without fear. Meet this need by ensuring that employees can sustain their survival mechanism: employment. Arguably, this is where employee engagement begins.
  • Belonging. Friendship, teamwork, and camaraderie thrive in engaging workplace. This is where motivation takes true root. An inclusive culture promotes interpersonal bonds that fulfill this need and foster engagement.
  • Importance, or “esteem.” Think: the respect, self-esteem, and recognition one derives from life. Esteem can blossom in the workplace. In a sense, importance is the difference between a job and a career. It’s a no-brainer, really: appreciating workers makes them feel important. Naturally, this translates into employee engagement.
  • Self-actualization. This is about becoming the best one can be. Meet this need by covering the lower four needs and aligning mission and values. If you do this for your workers,  congrats! They are probably highly engaged and motivated.

Appreciation Means Motivation

Americans spend one-third of their lives at work.
That makes work the number one source of human contact in most peoples’ lives.
Accordingly, an 
appreciative work culture plays a major role in employee engagement.

Man gives a red heart to an employee as a sign of appreciation

According to a Harvard Study, appreciation and motivation are interlinked. Employers who have met the four top needs can then promote employee self-actualization through recognition and supportive actions. In turn, this improves the business. To sum up: motivating employees is as simple as showing recognition and appreciation.

Start with an Appreciation Plan

Only you can determine the best approach to employee appreciation for your organization. Employee recognition awards might motivate your habitual underachievers. On the other hand, they could demotivate people in less visible roles.

Firstly, assess the needs and structure of your business. Secondly, implement your new appreciation drive. You can start by identifying your business needs and areas where employees are most disengaged.

Finally, ask your employees what they think! A suggestion box or survey on employee engagement, for instance, are all it takes to show you care.

Once you know what drives your employees, find ways to increase their motivation. 

Next, create a long-term plan. One pizza Friday is unlikely to motivate anyone. A clear employee engagement strategy, however, is the first step in creating a motivating work environment.

25 Employment Engagement Ideas

Ready to promote employee engagement? Here are 25 fun, affordable ways to do it.

  1. Encourage mutual appreciation.
    You will never be able to see all of the work employees do every day. However, those small tasks and good teamwork lead to increased engagement and productivity. That’s why you should foster a culture of mutual appreciation. This can range from creating a Slack channel to putting up an “appreciation bulletin board.” In doing so, you’ll create a more engaging work environment.
  2. Assign buddies to new hires.
    Onboarding doesn’t end with the signing of the contract. For lasting employee engagement, start a buddy system! Designate a buddy for each new hire. As a result, you’ll show support for both new and long-time  employees.
  3. Introduce new team members.
    Shaking hands just isn’t enough. To really build the team, host a special day when a group of new hires starts work. This will better integrate new employees and show appreciation for the whole team. It’s also a rare opportunity to enjoy a free lunch (not for you, though).
  4. Team-build!
    All of your employees see their team members on a daily basis, but creating cross-team bonds and showing appreciation to the entire workforce will help you promote an engaging environment for everyone on your staff. Best of all, team-building events make work more fun for everyone!
  5. Give a desk allowance.
    People spend most of their waking hours in their place of work. Oddly, though, unless they work remotely, they have little ability to personalize their space. This your chance to score employee engagement points by providing an allowance for desk personalization. For example,  a small plant costs little and makes their workspace feel cozier.
  6. Host a potluck.
    Host a potluck party to build a team bond. Staff can bring their favorite dishes or culturally significant treats. In return, they get to try their colleagues’ cooking. Tip: remember to also provide food and drinks.
  7. Offer office wellness.
    Pay for a monthly massage or host complimentary weekly meditation sessions. Pampering employees helps them unwind in the office. This, in turn, boosts engagement and productivity.
  8. Create a crunch time tradition.
    Are your workers stressed about making their numbers at the end of every month? Make a habit of showing support and appreciation during stressful times. Ordering a pizza or bringing in brownies on the day of a launch, for instance, will ease tension and inject fun.
  9. Write personalized appreciation notes.
    A handwritten note makes a big impression in an age of email and Slack. Show thanks to your employees by acknowledging their good work and personal strengths. After all, you want to keep them around, right?
  10. Offer flexible scheduling.
    If you trust employees to do their job, you can also trust them to manage their time. Flexibility is not just great for your employees, either. In fact, it has serious benefits for businesses, including higher retention and employee engagement.
  11. Celebrate big and small wins.
    Birthdays, weddings, promotions, or just general great performance are all easy ways for you to show you care. Express your appreciation for your employee by celebrating their big wins, be they personal or professional. As a result, they will feel treated as a person rather than a number.
  12. Try Summer Fridays.
    Who doesn’t love Summer Fridays? Offering extra time off during the summer is associated with productivity benefits. More obviously, it’s good for morale. After all, wouldn’t you like being to enjoy a beautiful summer day? Offering 4-day weeks or Friday half-days in the summer says thanks to your employees for their hard work year-round.
  13. Introduce points-based rewards.
    Reward staff for overtime, or give points they can redeem for time off or a donation to charity. This not only shows that you value them. In addition, it’s a good way to start an appreciation ecosystem.
  14. Publicly acknowledge good work.
    Publicly acknowledging worker’s successes is a proven way to increase employee engagement. Better yet, it encourages other workers to do their best work, too!
  15. Offer team rewards.
    Team rewards are a great way of showing appreciation without fostering competitiveness. Be generous with them. Creating a team mentality also increases employee engagement.
  16. Surprise them!
    Yes, specific acts for specific accomplishments are well and good. But a random surprise that shows your appreciation means so much more – not just to high achievers. Plan a lunch party, bring brownies to the office, or let them leave early for no specific reason.
  17. Give career-related rewards.
    Sure, you can host a pizza party or give an extra day off. At the end of the day, though, ambitious employees need more. Therefore, engage your employees by stimulating their minds. To name just a few ideas: encourage them to attend conferences or take courses for tech competency. In doing so, you’ll be supporting their growth. And you’ll likely benefit your organization in the process.
  18. Provide tangible benefits.
    Offer supplemental health programs, such as GymPass, or provide childcare opportunities to let your employees know that you care about what happens to them even when your bottom line is not involved.
  19. Appreciate them annually.
    Make employee appreciation a holiday! Who said the office holiday party has to be your team’s only occasion for celebrating together? Plan a fun annual event and make it a cornerstone of the company calendar.
  20. Involve them in your CSR initiative.
    First, conduct a survey to determine your staff’s core motivators. Then incorporate these in your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) agenda. Allow staff to volunteer or participate in this activity. Also, include them in communications about the program. Showing staff that you care about what matters to them increases employee engagement.
  21. Take high-achieving teams to lunch.
    This will show your interest in their lives and connect you with the next generation of leaders. Spending time with employees doesn’t just show your gratitude for their work. It also facilitates communication and transparency.
  22. Share how your business has helped the community.
    Show employees that not only do you appreciate them, but the wider community does, too. You can do this by sharing stats on your business’s environmental impact in the community, for instance. Alternatively, highlight hours staff have volunteered, or share positive user reviews. The only limit is your imagination!
  23. Have a “Bring Your Pet to Work Day.”
    Better yet, allow employees to bring pets to the office with them every day. Pets are a huge part of their owners lives. By acknowledging your employees’ furry friends, you’re entering the fast track to their hearts. What could be better for employee engagement?
  24. Have a suggestion box.
    Suggestion boxes are delightfully analog, with vintage charm. For encouraging feedback and creating a culture of improvement, they’re unbeatable. Have a better idea? Drop it in the suggestion box.
  25. Don’t just recognize work achievements.
    Your employees have a life outside work. So why not recognize them in front of the group for their hobbies, athletic achievements, or other activities? They’ll be happy to share without having to feel like they’re attention-seeking. Indulge them by showering them with attention. In the process, you’ll be giving them a healthy dose of motivation.

Employee Engagement Wrap-Up

In conclusion, you can enhance employee engagement at any budget. Lastly, and most importantly, the the time to start doing so is now!

Are you an employer seeking engaged talent or new employees to effectively onboard? We have plenty of options for you. Moreover, we love to answer your questions. So start building a talent pipeline to carry your company into the future!

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