Employee engagement is a huge topic, but even small employee engagement efforts can have a positive impact on your employees. Here are a few quick and easy employee engagement activities that you can try with your team.

1. Host a talent show

At one place I worked, we decided to play a silly prank on some new hires. It was unexpectedly beneficial to everyone, so we decided to turn it into a tradition. We instructed our new employees to prepare a special talent for their first weekly all-hands meeting—a talent show they believed was common for all employees. We thought the new recruits would be a bit nervous about having to perform, but we might see something entertaining and veteran employees would get a kick out of watching newbies perform.

The result was fantastic. We had instrumental performances, magic tricks, martial arts, and sing-a-longs that immediately impressed the new employees’ co-workers. Beyond the initial surprise of such diverse talents from our new recruits, we realized that coworkers remembered each and every new employee who performed a talent. The talent show was a hit, transforming a prank into a meaningful introduction to the team. Talent shows became a key aspect of our employee onboarding process. New employees got to show off something special about themselves that may otherwise not come up. The end result was an early increase in rapport among team members, leading to a greater sense of belonging among new hires.

2. Buy lunch for your team

Spending time listening to team members is a great first step in your employee engagement efforts. The more you’re available to your employees, the more comfortable they will be you. This is important when soliciting feedback, asking for ideas or solutions to problems, or simply giving you more opportunities to communicate the good things you’re working on for your team.

Buying lunch doesn’t have to be some big, extravagant thing. Ordering pizza for the team or taking them to the nearest burger joint is perfectly acceptable. While catered food is great for keeping the team in one comfortable place—e.g., the company lounge or kitchen—anywhere that you can gather and listen to one another will accomplish the goal. Employees will appreciate the free lunch: they’ll feel more valued and recognize your desire to interact with them more frequently. Such employee engagement activities should increase the quality and quantity of communication you receive from your employees.

3. Host a competition

Whether it’s a chili cook-off, pitch contest, hackathon, weight loss competition, or athletic event, some friendly competition can do your team some good. A voluntary competition lets employees demonstrate abilities not necessarily related to their day-to-day work, gives them a mutual topic of conversation that isn’t purely work-related, and gives them awards to strive for. Something as simple as a custom-made trophy (even if it’s just stuff you glue together yourself!) can be a meaningful point of pride for winning employees. The winner may prominently place their trophy on their desk for all to see.

Team-based competitions are also valuable, in promoting collaboration, rapport, and teamwork. Giving people something to strive toward together will help them appreciate one another’s knowledge and abilities. Additionally, this exercise increases trust which will follow into employees’ day-to-day work with one another. Either individual or team-based competitions will give employees a chance to shine in some new way. Similar to hosting a talent show, you’re giving employees an opportunity to find new ways to connect and make a positive memorable impression on their coworkers.

4. Host a town hall

Company town hall meetings give employees an opportunity to voice questions and concerns. While no one likes being put on the spot, being willing to respond to employee concerns in person will demonstrate that you are communicative, thoughtful, and working in the best interests of their employees. However, if you go to the trouble of hosting a town hall, be prepared to respond to uncomfortable questions. Though it’s not the greatest feeling to answer unsatisfactorily, people generally understand that you won’t have all the answers. Just be sure to follow up any “I’m not sure” answers with “but I will find out and get back to you in the next week.”

Town halls are a commitment to listen to your people. This employee engagement activity is designed to promote honest communication. But as a leader you should expect that you will be showing some vulnerability during a town hall. You won’t have all the answers for employees’ unexpected questions. Even when you do have answers, they may not be answers people want to hear. However, that’s okay too. Employees will appreciate your candor and vulnerability more than any guarded or ambiguous answers. Focus on being honest and you will increase trust between you and your team members, resulting in greater confidence in your leadership.

5. Celebrate team performance

Any time a team accomplishes a goal or objective—a milestone on project delivery, a fundraising goal, a user growth goal, etc.—celebrate it. The celebration can be as simple as congratulating contributing members during an all-hands meeting or sending out a company-wide email. For big accomplishments, consider a meeting or party specifically focused on the team’s performance. Outline their accomplished goals and objectives, why they were important, and how the team went about meeting them. Did they go “above and beyond” their typical responsibilities? Did they think through problems in some innovative way?

The goal of this employee engagement activity is to recognize good work. However you choose to celebrate, team members will appreciate the recognition and validation of their good work. Recognition also demonstrates what you as a leader care about. This helps align the entire team in terms of how they should approach their work.

6. Reward great contributions

Similarly, you can reward great contributions from teams or individual contributors. Accompanied alongside an announcement to the team, present team members with awards. These can be spot bonuses, personalized company swag, or other personal gifts that have meaning to the recipient.

Just as celebrating team performance recognizes good work, so do awards. Rewarding people is an opportunity to reinforce the good behaviors you want on the team. Doing so gives other team members a model to emulate: when they see the type of work or impact that is rewarded by their leaders, they will strive to make a similar impact in their work.

7. Conduct an employee engagement survey

Employee engagement surveys are a great way to gain insight into your team’s motivations and your company’s performance. Understand team perspectives on employee engagement activities, find out what they care about, and where there is room for improvement in your employee engagement program.

However, remember that issuing a survey is not enough. You must be prepared to respond to survey results with meaningful action. If employees do not see a meaningful response to their feedback, they will be less likely to offer feedback in the future.

Looking for more employee engagement activities?

Create an account for Insight and you’ll have access to our entire employee engagement playbook. The playbook includes specific actions you can take with your employees to increase employee engagement. Review example conversation scripts, real-world ideas, and simple ways to get started. We also offer highly relevant employee engagement activities catered to each employee. Send an employee engagement survey with Insight and we’ll show you exactly how you can best support each team member based on what they care about most.

It’s free to get started, but the employee engagement activities and leadership guidance are invaluable. Give Insight a try.

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