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Episode 11:
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Best employee engagement ideas for work

Engaged employees do better work and tend to stay with their companies longer. Furthermore, a workplace of engaged employees is often a more pleasant place to be.

But how do you get your employees to feel more engaged? Here are some employee engagement ideas that can help you get a more engaged workforce without having to flip your business model on end or dramatically increase benefits.

In fact, as you'll see from these team engagement ideas, sometimes the most inexpensive and simplest ideas are the most effective.

Is it Worth Investing in Team Engagement Ideas?

It already takes a lot of effort to keep employees on the payroll and coming to work, so do you really need to invest more time into coming up with ideas for team engagement? You may be surprised by how easy these employee engagement ideas are to implement. Some of them are more of a mindset adjustment than they are a change in your business practices. 

It's well worth looking into at least a few employee engagement ideas, because an engaged workforce is worth the extra effort. Engaged employees are more likely to have:

  • Greater productivity with more effort put into their work
  • Fewer absences, sick days, and late clock-ins
  • A longer period working at the company overall
  • Better communication with managers and other departments

What Engages Your Employees?

You won't make much progress in coming up with good employee engagement ideas if you don't know what interests and passions your employees have. After all, not all ideas for team engagement will work for all employees. 

Different employees in different lines of work have different motivations. Communicate with your employees to learn exactly what they find most engaging.

Employee Engagement Ideas for Work

1. Communicate

Do your employees rarely fill out surveys or respond with more than a few words when you ask them what they think about their work? If you asked your employees’ friends and loved ones what the employee thinks about work, do you think you’d find that your employee does in fact have an opinion? 

The fact is that every employee has ideas about their job; how it can be improved, likes and dislikes, and ideas about their co-workers. Don't settle for a blank survey. Keep looking for ways to communicate with your employees and learn more about what they think about your company. 

2. Reward Behavior, Not Just Accomplishments

It's easy for most companies to reward employees who do an exceptional job. However, it's a lot more difficult to reward employees for their efforts. Employees who consistently work hard and follow your company values but never manage to achieve something worthy of a pat on the back can become discouraged.

Reward your employees for the values that your company esteems and their efforts to work in line with them, not just for the big ticket sales or perfect attendance.

3. Have Fun Together

Play is an integral part of the human bonding and social experience. Having fun with one another can make employees more comfortable together and make it easier for them to work well together. 

There are as many opportunities to have fun as a team as you and your employees can think of. Pizza Fridays, Dress Down Tuesdays, and company lunches are just some of the opportunities for having fun as a company.

4. Encourage Employees to Have Fun on Their Own Time

There's a limit to how many paid employee hours you can commit to spending on having fun. However, you can incentivize your employees to socialize with outings. Offer your employees tickets to a concert or a discount to a local restaurant in hopes that they'll go together. This can be an affordable way for you to build a company culture without using paid company hours.

5. Encourage Employees to Work Together in New Ways

Depending on what kind of company you have, your employees may or may not have opportunities to work together closely on a regular basis. However, even if your employees are accustomed to working together, giving them a different kind of project to pour their efforts into can lead to new growth and engagement. 

For instance, restaurant employees may be perfectly used to handling the dinner rush together, but encouraging them to work together to decorate the dining room for a special event can encourage them to engage in new ways.

6. Care About Your Employees’ Personal Lives

Too often, even employees who are extremely engaged with their work end up becoming dispirited and leaving because they can't balance the job they love with their personal interests and passions. Make your employees' personal lives a priority, and you are likely to keep them longer.

Don't be stingy with PTO, schedule with your employees’ priorities in mind, and do all you can to accommodate personal crises. Employees who feel their workplace is engaged in their lives are more likely to be engaged at work.

7. Offer Mobility Within the Workplace

Your employees may not always be interested in the job you hired them for, but that doesn't mean that the efforts you put into training them and onboarding them need to be wasted. It also doesn't mean you need to push someone into a promotion just so you don't lose them.

You can enable lateral mobility in your company, allowing your employees to try out different roles and pursue their own interests at your company. This kind of crosstraining can actually be hugely beneficial for the company, since more employees can fill more roles. It also keeps employees more engaged, as it helps them find what kind of work they want to do.

8. Give Back to the Community

Your employees are likely to feel more engaged with your company if your company engages with its community. Younger generations are especially committed to giving back and feeling that the businesses they interact with, whether they're working for them or buying from them, are making a positive difference in the world.

Choose a philanthropic cause that makes sense for your company. Remain involved with it, and encourage employees to do the same on company time.

9. Invest in Employee Wellness

Healthier people are more likely to be engaged in everything they do, including work. Furthermore, by showing you care about your employees' health and wellness, you are likely to inspire loyalty.

Many companies misspend on wellness because they aren't sure how to make the investment. A ping pong table or a couple of pieces of gym equipment that are only used by one employee at a time, once in awhile, aren't likely to do the trick. Instead, offer employees access to counseling services for mental health, provide free or reduced-price gym memberships, or have health savings plans for your employees.

10. Create a Mentoring System

For the most part, employees at most businesses stay in their own lanes, rarely interacting with other employees, particularly employees with different levels of skill. However, a mentoring system can be a superb way for employees to learn from one another and feel more invested in their team and in the business.

Connect a more experienced employee with a newer hire so that they can teach them and serve as a formal helper within the workplace. This can also be a great way to gather important information about employee satisfaction since employees are often more likely to talk to one another than to managers.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is delicate and difficult to control. After hours of team-building exercises, encouraging the kind of values you want to see, and striving to build a particular culture for your company, just a couple of new employees with a bad attitude or an argument between existing employees can turn it all on its head.

Company culture isn't something that can be accomplished with a couple of posters on the wall and a meeting once a month. You need to be proactive about the culture that is developing in your company and pay attention to what is coloring it. The wrong kind of company culture can be one of the fastest drivers of a drop in employee morale.

12. Encourage Your Employees, Even if You’re Encouraging Them Out

There comes a time for every employer when they have a star employee they’d love to keep, but know they are going to lose. How you respond to this moment can make a big difference for not only the employee in question but for the company as a whole.

It may seem counterintuitive to nurture a star employee out of your company. However, it's important to remember that other employees will be well aware of the contribution you made to helping your employee chase their passions. Having your employees become so successful that they go on to bigger and better things is a great way to keep current employees more engaged.

13. Be Humble

Proud, unshakable management is difficult to connect with. Employees are more likely to feel engaged at work if management not only asks for but acts on feedback. Making a big change to procedure or changing your mind about something important is a powerful way to show employees that their opinions can make a difference.

However, even if it's something small, like employees wanting different decorations or a change in office music, listening to what your employees want and making changes is a powerful driver of engagement.

14. Mark the Passage of Time

For many employees, work can feel like a steady drag as the years go by. Personal life is marked by holidays, birthdays, and milestones of personal accomplishments. However, too often, nothing breaks up the years at work.

It's natural that employees become disengaged in such a monotonous environment. Mark the passage of time by celebrating your employees’ birthdays and holidays together. Mark anniversaries that employees have been with the company and celebrate milestones, even if they're not work-related.

15. Provide Opportunities For Leadership

Not every employee at your company will be a manager or overseer, but that doesn't mean that they can't lead. Leadership is one of the primary causes for engagement in any kind of work. Not every employee will be engaged as a leader in every area of what they do, but every employee can be the leader of something.

Put employees in charge of planning parties or meetings, encourage an employee to lead a morning exercise routine, etc. Learn about your employees and what they care about and excel in, and give them opportunities to lead in those areas within your company, even if only in something small or temporary.

16. Remind Your Employees What They're Working For

Most people, regardless of their careers, want to feel that what they're doing matters. Even the employees with the least responsibilities at your company still have an important role to play. Emphasize the value of every role at your company. Make sure everyone feels a sense of accomplishment when the company does well.

Mark improvements in your company's worth, an especially good pace of production, an excellent lunch rush, or a mistake-free day. It's great if you can celebrate with a little party or reward, but even just calling out the fact that employee efforts have led to success is incredibly valuable.

17. Eliminate Unnecessary Processes

One of the biggest pain points for many employees is the steps they go through every day that they know are not accomplishing anything. Employees who have to engage in repetitive processes that could just as easily be automated by a computing system or machine have a more difficult time believing their work is meaningful.

Talk to your employees about the processes they go through every day and determine whether they think that all of the effort they're putting in is worth it. You may find ways to not only increase employee engagement but also eliminate wasted steps that are costing unnecessary time and money.

Enable Your Employees to be More Engaged

Regardless of how much of an investment you can afford to make into employee engagement, at least a couple of the items on this list are sure to help you to develop a more passionate and engaged workforce. You don't have to spend a lot of money or revamp the entire human resources department to engage your workforce. Just be humble, think carefully about what matters to your employees, and treat each of them as an individual with a lot to offer your company.

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