Get engagement insights delivered to your inbox
Every organization needs employee engagement activities to have a truly engaged workforce that consistently goes above and beyond to deliver exceptional results. But ask a company at random what they’re doing to keep engagement high, and you’re likely to hear about only a few, scattershot efforts, if any. Unfortunately, many organizations have yet to realize that only paying lip service to the importance of employee engagement often yields worse results than ignoring it entirely.
If you want your company to stand apart from the pack of unengaged workplaces, you’ve come to the right place. These 12 activities run the gamut from consistent practices that elevate the employee experience to more structured occasions that break up the tedium of the work week. And the best part — these activities are within reach for just about every organization, no matter its size or industry.
1. Recognize and reward employees for big wins and small moments
Taking advantage of every opportunity to recognize a fellow team member is an ongoing activity that can act as the most impactful driver of employee engagement at your organization. The goal is to build a culture of appreciation where every effort, no matter how small, is acknowledged. Frequent, sincere expressions of gratitude, whether a brief thank you, a handwritten note, or personalized gift, create a positive atmosphere where employees feel valued and motivated to excel.
Recognition and rewards are most meaningful when they’re tailored to the individual — but it can be hard to find the perfect gift, or the right words, even for team members you know well. An employee recognition platform solves this conundrum through a points-based rewards system, along with letting every employee show appreciation with only the click of a button and a few keystrokes. Look for software that includes fun social recognition features and is backed by a marketplace that lets team members choose virtually anything they can think of with the points they receive.
An employee recognition solution lets your team members practice recognition openly and transparently, so others can join in with their own messages of well-deserved thanks. This collective celebration reinforces the idea that every team member’s contributions are vital to the organization’s success, promoting a sense of belonging and boosting engagement.
2. Collect employee feedback — and act on it
Every employee wants to be heard. If team members don’t believe they have a real voice in organizational matters that affect them, they won’t stay motivated for long. That’s why collecting feedback is such an important employee engagement activity. Organizations should establish both public and confidential channels for employees to share their thoughts, concerns, and ideas.
The key is to create a variety of opportunities for employees to express themselves, including regular one-on-one meetings between employees and their supervisors. These should go beyond performance evaluations and encompass broader topics like career development, individual goals, and work-related concerns. Creating a safe and supportive space for employees to express themselves helps build both trust and engagement.
Employees also need access to feedback mechanisms that allow them to share their input anonymously if they prefer. These may include pulse surveys and AI-driven HR chatbots powered by a modern employee engagement platform. Confidential feedback channels let employees be truly honest with their feedback, no matter how sensitive the issue might be. Ensure that the feedback collected is taken seriously and addressed transparently, demonstrating a commitment to improvement.
Once feedback is collected, leaders must act upon it promptly. Employees need to see that their input is valued and that tangible changes result from their suggestions. Start by prioritizing the most pressing concerns or ideas that align with the company’s goals and values. Communicate the action plan transparently to the entire team or organization, detailing what changes will be made and when. An employee engagement platform can help your people leaders quickly identify areas for improvement and guide them as they take collaborative action with their teams.
Organizations should regularly revisit and update this feedback loop as needed to ensure that leaders continuously act upon employee input effectively. By addressing employees’ concerns and making changes based on their feedback, your company can demonstrate that team members’ voices truly do matter.
3. Try some fun, voluntary team-building activities
With the right approach, team-building activities can foster camaraderie and a positive work environment. These activities provide an excellent opportunity for employees to bond and collaborate in an informal setting. The connections team members build during these experiences lead to stronger professional relationships and can even result in friendships that enrich their personal lives.
The first ingredient in team-building activities that employees actually enjoy is choice. Offer a diverse range of team-building activities that cater to various interests and personalities. And encourage employees to suggest and organize activities they are passionate about, empowering them with a sense of ownership and inclusivity. This makes it much more likely that team members can find an activity they find genuinely interesting and are comfortable participating in. At their core, team-building activities should serve as fun, informal gatherings, and any costs should be reimbursed by the company or paid for in advance.
Keeping team-building activities voluntary is the second piece of the puzzle. The last thing you want an employee to experience during a team-building activity is a feeling of coercion or discomfort. Some people just don’t enjoy group activities — and that’s okay! Make it clear that participation is entirely optional, and there are no consequences for those who choose not to join. This approach respects employees’ individual preferences and boundaries while promoting an environment of personal autonomy and respect.
4. Provide learning opportunities to support employee development
Giving team members the opportunity to learn something new or further their mastery of an existing skill is a great way to foster engagement while benefiting both employees and your organization. Offer a range of learning opportunities tailored to employees’ needs and interests, like internal workshops, online webinars and courses, industry conferences, or continuing formal education. By allowing employees to choose the learning path that best aligns with their personal and professional goals, you empower them to take ownership of their development.
Organizations should also foster a culture that encourages continuous learning. Highlight the benefits of ongoing development in terms of individual growth, career advancement, and organizational success. Leaders can play a pivotal role by discussing development plans during one-on-one meetings, offering support and resources. Companies can even showcase success stories of employees who have benefited from development opportunities to inspire other team members to do the same.
Lastly, recognize and celebrate achievements and milestones in employee development. Acknowledge employees who have acquired new skills or certifications and reward them accordingly. This motivates the individual and inspires others to pursue their own learning journeys.
5. Celebrate and support diversity
By fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment where every perspective is valued, organizations increase employee engagement while driving innovation and long-term success. Encourage open dialogues about diversity in a variety of settings, allowing employees to share their experiences and insights. Provide regular diversity and inclusion training as well to raise awareness and promote empathy among staff members. Leaders should serve as examples by actively participating in these discussions and demonstrating their commitment to diversity.
Larger-scale initiatives should also play a role in your company’s DEI efforts. Recognize cultural holidays and heritage months, and organize events that highlight different traditions and backgrounds. Encourage cross-cultural interactions by creating opportunities for employees to engage with one another outside of their usual work tasks. Finally, promote diverse talent within the organization and ensure that underrepresented groups have equal access to career advancement opportunities.
6. Connect with your community through charitable efforts
Charitable initiatives are a great way to engage employees while establishing meaningful connections with your local community. These efforts reflect a company’s commitment to social responsibility and create a strong sense of purpose among employees. By connecting with the community through charitable efforts, organizations enhance employee engagement while strengthening their reputation as socially responsible entities, which can attract both talent and customers who share the same values.
Engage employees in the decision-making process to identify causes or organizations that resonate with them and align with your company’s values. Your company can then organize internal fundraising or volunteer campaigns to support the chosen charitable organizations. Consider offering paid time off for volunteer activities or matching employee donations to further incentivize community engagement. And recognize all employees who contribute time or money, as long as they’re comfortable making their contributions public. This acknowledgment reinforces the idea that the company and its employees are making a positive impact on society together, elevating morale and engagement.
7. Encourage employee wellness
Employees that feel supported when it comes to physical and mental wellness are more likely to be engaged and productive members of your organization. Sustained well-being begins with work-life balance. Encourage employees to take regular breaks and use their allotted vacation days. And implement flexible working arrangements when possible, allowing employees to better manage their personal and professional lives. These initiatives demonstrate that your company cares about the health of its employees and takes a long-term, holistic view of their value, rather than narrowly focusing on immediate contributions to the bottom line.
Organizations should invest in more formal wellness programs as well. They can offer gym memberships and in-office health services to support physical health while providing access to mental health resources, like counseling services or mindfulness training. With the right recognition and wellness tools, organizations can even automatically reward employees when they meet their own set wellness goals.
Employees won’t take your organization’s wellness initiatives seriously if leadership doesn’t. Encourage leaders to prioritize their own wellness and communicate the importance of well-being to their teams. Ensure that they know the importance of destigmatizing seeking help for mental health challenges and promoting open communication about wellness needs. When employees see their leaders participate in your company’s wellness programs, they’re more likely to follow suit, leading to a healthier, more engaged workforce.
8. Bridge the gap between leadership and staff
Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of working for a truly supportive manager — or a supervisor who specialized in micromanagement — knows that leaders have an incredible ability to support or harm engagement. Leaders should practice open and transparent communication, regularly touching base with employees to understand their concerns, ideas, and needs. Forums like town hall meetings and dedicated feedback sessions are great opportunities for employees to voice their opinions and receive timely responses. This not only makes employees feel heard but also allows leadership to gain valuable insights from the frontlines.
Organizations should also foster a culture of approachability and accessibility among leadership. Encourage leaders to be visible and available to employees, whether through informal chats, mentorship programs, or regular check-ins. When leadership is perceived as accessible, it promotes trust and makes employees more comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.
Cross-functional teams or task forces that bring leaders and employees together to collaborate on projects and initiatives are a great idea as well. They facilitate teamwork and break down hierarchical barriers, enabling leaders to work alongside employees in pursuit of common goals. By actively promoting interaction and collaboration between leadership and employees, organizations can create a more engaged and connected workforce.
9. Support personal interests
Demonstrating that your company views employees as real, well-rounded individuals with lives and interests outside of work is an integral part of keeping engagement high. And supporting personal interests starts with prioritizing a healthy work-life balance. In addition to improving employee wellness, this ensures employees have the time and energy needed to actually engage with personal interests. whether it’s spending time with family, joining a sports team or other organization, or pursuing their own hobbies.
The most supportive companies go a step further by offering resources that empower employees to further explore existing interests and discover new ones. Whether it’s organizing groups around certain interests, offering a stipend for education related to personal passions, or simply giving team members an extra day off to “do their thing,” these initiatives have the potential to enrich employees’ lives and organizational culture immensely.
Recognizing and celebrating personal achievements can make a significant impact as well. Acknowledge milestones like completing a lengthy hobbyist project, achieving a higher education degree, or engaging in significant community service. This sends a clear message that the company cares about employees’ lives beyond the office, fostering a deeper emotional connection between team members and the organization.
10. Give out fun employee awards
A few fun and creative awards can go a long way towards building a positive culture and keeping employees motivated. Your company’s awards program should feature a variety of awards that celebrate different aspects of employee contributions, like “Innovator of the Year,” “Team Player Award,” or “Customer Service Champion.” These awards should reflect the company’s values and objectives, aligning recognition with organizational goals.
Involve employees in the award selection process by encouraging them to nominate their peers and then vote to determine the winners. This helps ensure that employees will buy into the selection criteria and actually view the awards as something meaningful. Organizations should also strive to make award presentations fun and memorable events. Host ceremonies or gatherings, whether in-person or virtual, where employees can celebrate the winners together. And include light-hearted elements like humorous awards or creatively-designed trophies to add a touch of levity.
11. Celebrate important milestones with the pomp and style they deserve
While recognition should be a daily part of your organization’s employee experience, significant milestones should still be celebrated with enthusiasm and flair. Going the extra mile when an employee reaches their ten year anniversary or receives a long-sought degree creates a sense of belonging and pride in the workplace. As long as the employee is comfortable with it, the company should hold a public celebration so team members can come together and show appreciation together.
Companies should personalize milestone celebrations whenever possible to make them truly meaningful. Don’t just hand out the same generic ten-year anniversary plaque to every employee. Instead, include unique touches, like featuring some of the team member’s favorite food or beverages, calling out specific moments from the employee’s history with the company, and including unique gifts tailored to their preferences — or, with an employee recognition program, a hefty dose of reward points they can spend on whatever they prefer.
Milestone celebrations are also opportunities to reflect on how the individual’s journey has progressed along with the company’s own. Highlight the progress the employee and organization have each made, highlight shared successes, and communicate a shared vision for the future. This instills a sense of shared purpose and reinforces the idea that every individual is an integral part of your organization’s continued success.
12. Implement mentorship and coaching initiatives
Employees are engaged by the prospect of professional development and a feeling that they belong at your company — and your organization can offer each through mentorship and coaching initiatives. These programs help employees grow by imparting critical institutional knowledge. They equip team members to tackle new, exciting responsibilities and build lasting connections with more senior members of the organization.
Organizations should establish formal mentorship programs that pair experienced employees with relative newcomers. These mentors can offer guidance, share their expertise, and help new hires navigate company culture and expectations. Mentorship provides a valuable support system for employees, as team members know they have someone they can turn to for advice and learning whenever needed.
Train leaders on how to adopt a coaching approach to management as well. Rather than attempting to control and micromanage employees, a manager who acts as a coach simply looks to do everything they can to support their team members. They find out what employees want to accomplish, build alignment towards shared goals, and then empower workers with the resources, training, and encouragement they need to succeed. This collaborative management strategy builds mutual trust, helps employees act autonomously, and keeps them more engaged with their daily tasks.
Deliver truly engaging activities with the right platform
You may have noticed that some of the best employee engagement activities — providing recognition, collecting and acting on feedback, giving out rewards — are most impactful when team members are empowered to carry them out on their own as part of their daily work routines. But this requires a bit more than telling your employees to go at it. They need tools that let them show appreciation from anywhere, anytime, send meaningful rewards without having to get approval and reimbursement from HR or their manager, and provide input whenever they have a thought to share — preferably all in a centralized, easy-to-use platform.
That’s exactly what your employees will get with the Achievers Employee Experience Platform. It features a dedicated recognition and rewards system in the form of Achievers Recognize, backed by a catalog with merchandise, experiences, and gift cards from over 2,500 brands. And it also includes Achievers Listen, a solution dedicated to capturing the employee voice through science-backed surveys and intelligent, AI-powered feedback channels.
See how Achievers can improve employee engagement at your company with a free demo.