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How to Plan Employee Engagement Contests That All Your Teams Will Love

Thirty-three percent. It’s a fairly low number. We wouldn’t want to see that number for our customer satisfaction or client retention rates. But that’s the number of American workers who report being engaged at work. And if a figure that low isn’t acceptable when it comes to our clients, it shouldn’t be acceptable when it comes to employees either. Low engagement leads to poor performance, dissatisfaction, and higher turnover. But there are ways to combat this disengagement. Employment engagement contests help keep people motivated and gives everyone a common goal beyond just doing well at work. You want to make sure your contests are inclusive of everyone within your organization, regardless of department or job title.

Here are a few tips for building employee engagement contests that everyone will love.

Get Out of the Office

When you have different departments with different goals and responsibilities, it can be hard to manage an in-office contest. You can’t pit them against each other to see who can close the most sales or enter the most data, because there will be very clear winners before they even begin. Instead, focus on contests that everyone can reasonably participate in, regardless of their job title or skills.

This often means getting out of the office. Though you might have the time, budget, and resources to execute numerous company outings, planning even a single event a year where employees can get together outside of work for a little friendly competition can help make everyone feel a little more engaged within the company. Do trivia at a bar, play a few rounds of mini-golf, or even see which department can collect the most cans for a community food drive.

Ask Employees What They Want

Employment engagement contests are only effective if they are actually engaging. While no one idea will likely ever satisfy every single employee, it is still a good idea to at least try and get a good idea of what your employees might like to do. After all, this about them.

An employee-led committee to plan contests can incorporate employees from various departments to make sure everyone is represented.  Or you can even use surveys to help you figure out what kinds of contests everyone might be interested in. Most enterprise chat systems have polling features built in. And many HR suites offer employee feedback tools like surveying as well.

Not everyone will excel in every single contest. But you should have a pretty decent understanding of your employees that allows you to tailor your contests for a high chance of success. Contests are a lot less motivating when few participants can succeed. Make sure everyone is gaining something.

Make it Regular

Of course, you can’t host one contest and expect everyone to remain engaged long term.

To keep employees engaged, contests should become regular events.  As is the case with anything good, you don’t want to overdo it. But you also don’t want to introduce your employees to something they enjoy only to never bring it back. Then they’ll just be demoralized on top of being disengaged.

Establish what “regular” means for you and what works for your organization, then stick with.

Whether it’s once a year or twice a week, having something consistent to look forward to always makes work a little more enjoyable. Plus, the more regular these inter-departmental contests are, the most opportunities employees have to mingle and get to know each other.

Reward Teams for Little Tasks

Rewards can go a long way and the be the incentive your employees need to go the extra mile. Come up with contests that involve everyone doing their job but aren’t dependent on specific positions. For example, everyone, regardless of position, should be showing up to work on time. So consider building a contest around perfect attendance and punctuality. Even something as simple as free lunch for the entire floor if the dishwasher gets loaded and unloaded for 30 days in a row can engage employees around a common cause.

Show Off the Results

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing something well and getting no recognition. No matter what kind of contest you decide on, consider displaying the results somewhere or sending them out to the whole team. It’s important to recognize and reward employees for their participation.

You can keep a leaderboard in the break room or leverage a recognition platform to showcase results so that those who didn’t win will be encouraged to work harder next time, and those who did win can appreciate their own victory.

Implement Initiatives to Help With Goals

Have departments in the office compete and see who can hit the gym after work the most days per week or eat the most fruits and veggies for lunch? Is a group of employees working together to raise the most money for a local charity? Help these freelance efforts out! Initiatives like a company-sponsored gym membership, catered lunches, or charitable giving matching can all help employees reach their own goal. Even simple acts like these can increase employee engagement.

Hold Managers Accountable

Getting different departments on board for a contest can be tough. Making sure everyone is involved can make it a little easier. Managers need to set the example for other employees by participating in contests, and by giving it their all.

Seeing managers compete can be good motivation for employees to step up their own game, and the idea of winning a competition against their boss might make people work even harder!

Finally, Be Proactive

The best way to maintain employee engagement is to never lose it in the first place. This is easier said than done, of course, but you should be taking steps to ensure that every employee is engaged from day one, and that they all stay that way.

No matter the age, everyone likes the chance to have some fun at work. Incorporating simple contests into the daily routine can be incredibly effective in helping your teams bond and work better together.

Learn more about what incentives to offer in your next employee engagement contest by accessing Achievers’ e-book: “How to Incentivize the Modern Workforce.

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About the Author
Laura HudgensLaura Hudgens is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a communications instructor and freelance writer who studies and writes about technology, media, science, and health.

 

 

 

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Achievers employees bowling

Are You Having Fun at Work?

A few years ago I found myself diligently working non-stop for three days at a start-up to bring up a website with a team of six people. We were stressed, tired, not having fun, and my boss kept cracking jokes to lighten the mood.

Finally, someone asked, “How can you be making jokes at a time like this?”. He replied, “What’s the point of doing this if we’re not going to have fun doing it?”. At the time that didn’t really help our mood, but over the years that statement has stayed with me and has shaped how I approach my career and the work I do every day. Really, what is the point of spending 40 hours a week somewhere if we don’t enjoy it?

Throughout my career I’ve worked for some companies where I’ve had little to no fun, but it wasn’t until Achievers where I finally started enjoying my daily 9–5 life. Recently, I went to a conference where I heard Dr. Annie McKee speak. She is a respected academic, speaker, best-selling author of the book “How to be happy at work”, and advisor to top global leaders. According to Dr. McKee, “Life is too short to be unhappy at work”. When we’re unhappy at work, our personal life suffers, our sleep is affected and our relationships take a back seat. Think about it. An average person works about 43 years in their life. That’s 2,236 weeks, and 89,440 hours of being unhappy. That’s a BIG part of your life!

Dr. McKee says the three keys to being happy at work are purpose, hope, and friendship.

Purpose

We all strive to find purpose in our day to day lives, whether it’s with eating healthy, making time for friends and family, or exercising. Having purpose should be an equal priority. This purpose needs to come from the leadership team. “Having a sound, clear, and compelling purpose helps you to be stronger, more resilient, and able to tap into your knowledge and talents,” says Dr. McKee.

Hope

Similarly, employees need hope to succeed. Purpose drives us to be better today, but hope keeps us on track for tomorrow. Hope helps us get through the days that aren’t easy, the projects that prove to be difficult, and the people that aren’t always pleasant to be around. “To be truly happy at work, we need to see how our workplace responsibilities and opportunities fit with a personal vision of our future. This kind of vision emerges from hope and optimism, which we can, with focus and hard work, cultivate even in difficult jobs and toxic workplaces. When we see our jobs through a positive lens, and when a personal vision is front and center in our minds, we are more likely to learn from challenges and even failures, rather than be destroyed by them,” says Dr. McKee.

Friendship

The last key to being happy at work, according to Dr. McKee, is friendship. She says, “One of the most pernicious myths in today’s organizations is that you don’t have to be friends with your coworkers. Common sense and my decades of work with people and companies show the exact opposite. Love and a sense of belonging at work are as necessary as the air we breathe.”

If you find hope, purpose, and friendships in a company, chances are you will also be happy there. I find purpose through opportunities to develop. For example, I recently joined a team where I was able to learn technologies I didn’t know before such as Docker and Symfony. Achievers is special in that they give employees an opportunity to learn on the job when they see promise in them. I find purpose in giving back to the company because they believed in me. In addition, I have hope because I am progressing in my career. I am able to grow and therefore, I have more mobility as a Software Engineer. Finally, I have found some really amazing friends in my teammates. Some days I laugh so much at work that my stomach actually starts hurting.

Exhibit A — the day we spent redecorating my friend’s workspace and watching his reaction when he walked in.

Achievers employee

Exhibit B — the day we decided to dress up as skittles.

Achievers employees dressed up as skittles

However, those things alone are not enough. The company goes one step further to create a culture that’s inclusive, welcoming, and fun. At Achievers we have one of the best company cultures I have ever seen. We have weekly Throwdown Thursday parties, epic Halloween weeks where the entire office gets a makeover, an employee appreciation week where we get gifts and perks every day, and a wellness week with fitness challenges and healthy shakes, to name a few. We have a Magic, The Gathering league that includes players from our senior leadership team. Here we have the CTO, Aris Zakinthinos and the Director of Product, Egan Cheung, playing a Magic match that had play by play commentary, and an audience of about 30 people.

Magic the Gathering Team Event

We have regular public speaking practice sessions called Speaker’s Corner. Many people, including myself, have a fear of public speaking, so I started this club to let people practice and get over their fear. The company allows employees to take time off to volunteer and also provides volunteer opportunities. We even have a band, along with a music room to practice. Here is a recent performance of our band Operating as Intended. Pikachu was visiting for the day.

Achievers Band with Pikachu

Recently my friends and I started our own little acoustic band where we meet and just play together. Here we are performing at the office talent show!

Achievers Acoustic Band

We routinely go on coffee walks together, and sometimes do 15-minute exercise breaks. We have karaoke, trivia nights, and personal top 1’s where we set a personal goal for the year, and receive $250 towards achieving it. My own personal top 1 for this year is to run an official 5K race. I’ve always wanted to run more so this initiative is providing me with the motivation to do it. Once I finish my run, I can get up to $250 towards anything I spent for the run (i.e. running shoes, clothes, costs of participating). Just this past week we had an amazing afternoon participating in a scavenger hunt, and wrapping up the day with an awesome party. Here we all are before the games began!

Achievers employees

All of these, along with unlimited food and drinks in the kitchen, makes Achievers one of the best places I’ve ever worked at.

In the end, how much fun you have really depends on you. A company can provide an amazing work culture, but you can be as involved as you like. If your company doesn’t have the culture, you can start the initiative. For example, I started Speaker’s Corner and one of our technical support agents started the band. The more involved you get in the culture, in the team, in the activities provided by the company, the more fun you will have at work. This, combined with hope, purpose, and friendship will help make you much happier during your 40-hour work week. That happiness will spill into the rest of your life and who doesn’t want that?

Oprah

Start building an amazing workplace culture with Achievers Employee Engagement Platform, which combines the highest-adopted employee recognition platform with an active listening interface to accelerate employee engagement. Schedule a demo today.

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Do you want to join the A-team? Apply for one of our open job listings here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Samira Hafezi
Samira Hafezi is a Staff Software Engineer at Achievers.

 

 

 

This blog post was re-purposed from Achievers Tech Blog.