What is employee engagement? We give some employee engagement activities and ideas.

What is Employee Engagement and How Do I Make It Happen?

Posted September 2, 2016 by Kristin Hoppe in Managing Your Team
Employee engagement has wide-ranging effects for your business, from profits to retention. Learn the employee engagement activities that make a difference.

What is Employee Engagement?

As an employer, employee engagement may feel like one of the many buzzwords that have popped up in the past few years. However, increased awareness around the topic exists for good reason.

Employee engagement goes much farther than an employee who is simply willing to complete her work on time. An engaged employee is happy and motivated, which has a cascading effect on the company at large.

In sum, an engaged employee is the exact person you can trust to run with a great idea at your company.

She’s also able to rise to the occasion when a new challenge presents itself. An engaged employee will go the extra mile to work harder and find creative solutions, and inspires others around her to do the same.

In sum, an engaged employee is the exact person you can trust to run with a great idea at your company. A mix of the right characteristics and the right environment can make for engaged employees. Here are seven factors to implement and strike the right mix for your company.

Looking for an easy how-to? You can download our eBook for 109 employee engagement ideas on a budget.

What Sets the Scene for Engaged Employees?

A Fair Compensation Package

Do you offer your employees a competitive salary, perks, and benefits? Engaged employees feel like their talents are valued and they’re being compensated what they’re worth — which is why they’re even more willing to work overtime or make that extra call when the situation calls for it.

A Healthy, Balanced Working Environment

A healthy office manifests itself in many ways. From the quality of the physical working environment to employee relationships with managers and workplace time and location flexibility — both physical and mental health are important here. An engaged employee is given the opportunity to work within a flexible environment that suits the needs of her busy lifestyle. She is more likely to feel valued and more willing to offer her all.

Belief in the Mission

Do your employees believe in the company’s mission? If not, it’s an uphill challenge to get an engaged employee who will go out of his way to make things happen in the workplace.

The Ability to Grow and Pursue Ideas

Engaged employees have the support and resources they need to do their job well, along with the independent drive to push the envelope even further. With free reign to test (and sometimes even fail) at big ideas, your employee will feel like she’s making a difference at work.

Encouraging employee engagement starts with making your employees feel valued.

A Mutually Beneficial Team Dynamic

Working in a healthy team is like being in a healthy relationship: the dynamic offers both support to dream up big tasks and the individual space to execute them. Engaged employees have a supportive base from which to work, with enough autonomy to truly focus on the task at hand.

Fun In and Out of the Workplace

Offer your employees fun routines both in the daily picture and for larger special occasions. We offer some activity ideas for that below.

A Rock-Solid Work Ethic

Your engaged employees are happy and have fun, yes; but they also know how to put their noses to the grindstone and get work done. Source employees who have an easygoing personality when working with others and also a devoted work ethic.

What Are Some Employee Engagement Activities and Ideas?

The good news is, every day is an opportunity to engage your employees — and many of the best ways to engage employees have more to do with conscientious management than a big budget. Here are some tangible steps you can take to boost employee engagement and make your company a more enticing place to work.

Offer Constructive and Recurring Feedback

Offering feedback shows your employees that you’re invested in their growth and their success. Employees who feel like they’re constantly improving are also more likely to be engaged, which is why traditional annual reviews are notorious for being ineffective and frustrating for employees. Make sure your managers are keeping an open feedback loop for constructive criticism between both parties. It’s a way to point out shining accomplishments and also areas for improvement.

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Connect on Aspirations for the Role

How does your employee see herself growing in the company in the next months or years? What can you do to facilitate that and ensure she is able to contribute something of value? An engaged employee is one who plays an active part in her role.

Find Everyday Ways to Appreciate Your Employees

Most of these gestures can be done for free or cheap. Bring free donuts into the office every once in awhile, write a note to your team about how much you appreciate him, or have a coffee outing one-on-one. It’s the little things that count.

...But Don’t Forget Big Events, Too

Celebrate big milestones and holidays with the company. It builds bonds between teammates and blows off stress. Need some seasonal ideas? Our article on holiday parties for teams of every size and budget might help.

Small businesses may be able to offer a more competitive benefits package through joining a PEO or offering other perks like unlimited PTO.

Offer Remote Work and a Flexible Schedule

If your employees work in an office setting, flexible work is one of the easiest and cheapest perks you can offer. Flexibility in the workplace allows for employees with children to work around their kids’ schedules and sick employees to seek out doctors’ appointments when they need them. Sometimes it’s a welcome break to work at a coffee shop around the aroma of coffee grounds and the energizing sounds of a different crowd.

Related article: The Definitive Guide to Employee Engagement

Find the Right Benefits Package

Show your employees you’re invested in their health. Offering benefits doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive, and it will go a long way towards letting your employee focus on work. Small businesses may be able to offer a more competitive benefits package through joining a PEO or offering other perks like unlimited PTO (see below).

Give Unlimited Paid Time Off

Americans are well known for not even taking most of their designated vacation days. However, those breaks should be encouraged — employees who don’t vacation are more likely to face long-term health woes. Of course, it’s still smart policy to keep track of unlimited PTO to make sure there aren’t any abuses.

Offer Inspiration During Important Moments

Justworks’ Isaac Oates, who was named one of Glassdoor’s top rated CEOs, often uses his time with the entire Justworks team to remind us of our mission. He does this at our weekly all-hands meetings or through emails to remind us about the special mission we’re working to achieve together. Feeling appreciation from the CEO through a genuine message goes a long way to bolster employee motivation.

Brighten up the Office Environment

Finding the best office space doesn’t come cheap, but you don’t need prime real estate to make a space cheerful. Offer your employees stipends to decorate their desks with plants, invest in desk lamps instead of just fluorescent lights, or decorate the office with pictures of your employees. Justworks has a corkboard near our entrance with polaroids of every employee, and it gives a nice personal touch.

Give Educational Opportunities

Some companies, like Flatiron School in NYC, offer learning stipends for their employees to take relevant classes. If you don’t have the budget for that, there are plenty of alternatives. Host a lunch and learn between fellow employees to share knowledge, or sign up for a company Coursera account. Your employees will appreciate the investment in their growth.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.