This is not an article that needs a long introduction.
You’re here for ideas for employee engagement activities. We’re here to provide.
All of the activities below do one of the following:
- Helping employees bond with teammates
- Giving employees a wider view of the company by introducing them to colleagues from different departments
- Involving employees in improving their workplace
- Offering visibility into strategic decisions made by senior staff
- Demonstrating your organization’s commitment to its values
- Making your organization a fun place to work
Got a pen and paper ready to jot down your favorites? Let’s get going.
The minute your new colleague walks through the doors on their first day, there are employee engagement opportunities you should be seizing.
It’s your HR team’s job to set the right impression straight off the bat, usually with a quick presentation, a tour, and some important safety information. For a great first impression though, you’ll need to go above and beyond.
Try some of the employee engagement opportunities to make new hires feel welcome, right from the start.
1. Workplace Treasure Hunt
What better way for someone to get to know their workplace than by discovering it for themselves?
Provide a quiz sheet with clues or questions, give them a starting point and a couple of key people to talk to and let them find the answers by exploring and talking to people—it’s fun, and they’ll start to meet new people on the way.
2. CEO/Head of Department Meeting
One of your senior figures taking the time to sit down with new hires makes everything instantly more accessible. It demonstrates that managers are willing to listen to their colleagues on the ground, and establishes a culture of trust and transparency.
Depending on the size and structure of your organization, this could be a CEO, other board member or a head of department.
3. A Welcome Meal
If you have the time or budget to go out for a meal with your new hire, great!
If not, don’t worry. This employee engagement activity is more about the gesture and the feeling of inclusion that it will create for your new colleague. If you don’t have the budget or seniority to go out somewhere fancy, the workplace cafeteria will work just fine.
4. Group Induction
For larger organizations in particular, it can be difficult for new hires to get a sense of being part of a bigger picture. If your workforce is spread over different locations, or your departments are very large, there’s a fair chance that new hires spend their first few weeks not talking to anyone outside of their immediate circle.
Holding a large welcome event for all new hires each month allows them to build bridges, meet people from across lots of different departments and develop a sense of the company as a whole, rather than just their role, department, or location.
For maximum effect, get a board member to give a short presentation on the strategic direction of your company, allow plenty of time for team building activities and provide snacks.
5. A Presentation Ceremony
Once your new hire has completed all their induction activities or their probation, it’s a nice touch to line up a little celebration. This is particularly important if there’s an extensive training program attached to the role which takes an amount of effort to pass.
This doesn’t have to be formal at all. Present them with their uniform, a bottle of something nice or just a company tote with some goodies in it. It’s the gesture that counts.
The thing with employee engagement activities is that they don’t have to be anything completely out of the blue.
If you put some thought into it, all that ‘everyday work stuff’ no-one thinks about can be excellent opportunities to help your employees feel good about their workplace, and actively work to improve it.
Why not think about:
6. E-learning Top-ups
Let’s be honest, no-one loves doing e-learning modules. If they did, you wouldn’t have to send so many reminder emails.
Still, they are important in making sure your employees know how to protect customer data, comply with industry regulations and even protect your company from fraud. To make learning at the workplace fun, why not gamify completion rates, and offer teams with 100% completion by a certain date a small prize. Free pizza is always a failsafe, from personal experience.
Another idea, if logistics allow, is to run a lunchtime ‘quiz evening’ based around recent training modules. Provide free snacks, soft drinks, and prizes, and encourage everyone to get competitive - it helps with bonding!
7. Pulse Surveys
Quickfire employee engagement surveys—also known as ‘pulse’ surveys—should be one of the main weapons in your employee engagement arsenal.
You can read more about how to create the perfect employee engagement survey here. In a nutshell, aim to keep each survey focused on a particular issue so it’s easy to address feedback and (crucially) let your employees know how you’ve addressed their concerns.
Showing your employees you care about their well-being and take their feedback seriously is essential in maintaining an engaged, productive and happy workforce. This should be one of the top employee engagement activities on your list.
8. Internal Projects
Lots of internal change projects, whether that’s replacing your old CRM system, finding a new catering business to run the canteen or finding a good standard-issue company cellphone, need feedback from internal stakeholders to be successful.
Encourage people leading these projects to survey a wide cross-section of employees. This makes people feel involved in company decisions and helps to avoid the feeling that management makes decisions without consulting anyone on the ground.
9. Recognizing Good Work
Your managers should be doing this anyway. If they aren’t, you won’t pass ‘go’ here.
Making this recognition public is the next step in showing your employees you really appreciate them. It’s also perhaps the most feelgood of all of the activities on this list; and who doesn’t love a bit of validation every now and again?
You could have a quarterly awards ceremony, allow people to send colleagues little gifts on the company (Amazon vouchers, chocolates, wine), or provide a space on your employee engagement software for shoutouts. Or, you could do all three! There’s no such thing as too much employee recognition, after all.
10. Regular Line Manager Catch Ups (Also Known As 1:2:1s)
One of the most important things to do in any employee engagement strategy is to find time to give regular 1:2:1 feedback on everyone’s performance.
It’s a win-win situation—people who do well at their jobs like to receive recognition at a personal level, whilst regular chats will also identify any issues preventing people from doing their best.
Without these, top performers feel their efforts are ignored and poor performers spiral downwards. This creates an all-round negative environment, and your workforce will disengage as a result.
Making sure every employee sits down each week with their line manager for 10 minutes or so is a quick and easy way to avoid this, so make sure it happens.
More people than ever want to work for companies that demonstrate a strong ethical core.
Volunteering and raising money for charity are rewarding activities in themselves, and also a great way to bring your workforce together to support a common cause.
11. Volunteer Days
Offering your employees time off to volunteer allows both them and you to give back to the community.
Promoting volunteering as an employee engagement activity mobilizes your workforce as a force for good where you work and is proof of all those promises you make on the ‘corporate and social responsibility’ section of your website.
12. Charity Bake Sales
An old classic. No list of employee engagement activities would be complete without it.
People like to raise money for charity. They also tend to like cake. People who bake cakes like seeing people appreciate the cake they have baked.
It’s a perfect way to bring people from all parts of the company together to work towards a common goal.
13. Diversity/Awareness Weeks
Diversity and awareness weeks serve two purposes: firstly they emphasize to employees from underrepresented groups that your workplace actively supports them and won’t tolerate discrimination of any sort.
Secondly, it’s a great way for people to get involved in helping to plan and run company events. If some of your employees are passionate disability rights activists, for example, giving them a platform to spread awareness of issues facing disabled people at work is a great way to show you’re serious about making things better.
14. Sponsored Group Activities
There are now more mass participation events than ever before—use these to your advantage and raise some cash for good causes!
Encouraging cross-departmental teams to enter together is a great way for employees to meet new people, to get active, and to make a difference to the world via their workplace.
It’s worth noting that these don’t necessarily have to be sporting events either. Charity sleepouts, hackathons and even sponsored sews are all just as valid as ultra-distance triathlons and international cycle challenges.
15. Fundraising Drives
Singular cake sale or sponsored fun run not enough?
Get your entire team, department or company working together to raise cash for a chosen cause. This could be something related to what your organization does, something that would benefit your local community or something voted on by your workforce.
If, like a lot of 21st-century workplaces, a lot of your workers are fairly sedentary, look for employee engagement activities that will get them up and about for part of their day.
16. Pool/Table Football/Badminton Ladder
Got a pool or foosball table in the breakroom? Introduce a bit of friendly competition to your colleagues’ lunch breaks by setting up a ladder or box league.
This type of activity is particularly good for shift-based workforces because games can be arranged around different shift types. Shift-based workers can often miss out on other lunchtime activities because they can’t be flexible about when they take their breaks.
If there’s a sports center close to where you work, you could consider setting up ladders for badminton, squash, tennis or any other one-to-one sport.
17. Lunchtime Yoga
Lunchtime yoga is a great employee engagement activity for those looking to tone up, release the stresses of the working day, or meet new people—or any combination of the three.
It's also the perfect employee engagement activity for introverts, as it involves a nice balance of self-focus and socializing, without the need for constant networking.
18. Walking Clubs
Get your employees out of their chairs during lunchtimes by setting up a walking group. It’s a perfect opportunity to destress, get some fresh air and catch up with colleagues.
Your employees will come back refreshed, head cleared and ready to face the rest of the day. They’ll also start to build networks outside of their immediate team, which helps them see themselves as part of something bigger.
For a more direct employee engagement drive, encourage a board member to join once a month—senior management visibility in an informal setting is an excellent way to create a dialogue between higher-ups and their on-the-ground colleagues.
19. Running Groups
A step up (pun absolutely intended) from walking groups, these are perfect either on a casual basis or as a training for a charity event.
Consider different groups for different levels, and maybe a Couch to 5k club to people who are new to the sport.
Tricky logistically, because 10 people each time will need to commit to being able to make the match. Still, if yours is the kind of workforce that this works for, five-a-side soccer is a great employee engagement activity for team building and creating friendships that your workforce will be happy to come into work for.
Encourage each department to enter a team, or mix and match.
Get into the party spirit with these festive employee engagement activities.
Are these super important for productivity? No. No, they are not.
Equally, they can be a lot of fun! Spread some joy among your workforce with the ideas below:
21. Seasonal Decorations
Halloween or Christmas coming up? Workplace looking clinical and a little dull?
Bring the joy of the season inside with a few festive decorations. Holidays always bring a bit of a buzz, and fully embracing them as an organization will help people transfer this excitement to the workplace.
You could provide the decorations yourself, or encourage people to get creative. Why not offer a small prize to the team with the best-decorated workspace, to encourage everyone to really get into the spirit of it?
22. Fancy Dress
Whether it’s for a charity event, big film release or big holiday like Halloween, getting dressed up can be great fun. If you have employees who work face-to-face with customers in, for example, a retail environment, it’s also a good way to build rapport.
Disclaimer: some people hate fancy dress with a fiery passion. Allow them space and don’t force the issue.
23. Seasonal Party Planning
Your employees know what they want from a workplace party, so create an interdepartmental team to plan for the big event.
Set them a budget and some general rules (no, it can’t all go behind the bar), and let them get on with it...and feel more attached to their workplace in the process.
24. Treats For Employees Working Holidays
Everyone else is at home opening presents/having a barbecue/getting ready to watch the big game.
Not the skeleton crew you’ve got covering the holiday shift though - and they will understandably be feeling resentful.
No-one loves working the holidays. Acknowledge this, and do everything you can to treat the employees on the unfortunate end of the rota, especially on the day. There should be plenty of free food (go big with brand-name takeouts and lots of baked goods - don’t be stingy and just get a load of stuff from the cafeteria), time in lieu and/or substantial overtime rates. Offering them family tickets to local attractions is also a nice touch as a way to recapture the time they missed out on with their loved ones.
This will help you demonstrate that you really appreciate the effort they put in whilst everyone else is out having fun. Of course, you’ll need to make sure the rota is fair too—if the same people are working holidays time and again, resentment will build.
25. Major Event Sweepstakes
A cheap, quick and easy way to have some fun. There’s a reason why sweepstakes are so popular.
These are just a small amount of money to play, with the potential to win...well, not all that much money, but certainly enough to treat yourself to a new top, a nice bottle of whiskey or meal out for two.