What is the difference between an engagement strategy and engagement activities?
Many use the terms activity and strategy interchangeably, but there is a technical difference. A strategy is an evidence-based approach to systematically approach a process. Strategy drives the activities you choose to implement. Strategy drives the actions. Activities and actions are a result of the strategy your organization chooses to implement to increase employee engagement.
What are employee engagement activities?
Employee engagement activities are actions taken to execute the organization’s strategy. Every action, every word, every piece of communication matter! Choose meaningful activities to support your employee engagement strategy and improve the worker experience. Keep in mind that some activities are better suited to some demographics of your organization. This is where a deep-dive into employee engagement survey results really matters. Which teams need to improve leadership? Which groups need to work on communication? Some issues might be global, while others might be specific to departments or branches.
Employee Engagement Activities Examples
Arrange workshops and team-building exercises that promote collaboration and effective communication among employees. These activities can range from problem-solving challenges to outdoor adventures. Encourage community and collaboration with these activities.
Engage employees in community service as teams. This not only instills a sense of purpose but also reinforces corporate social responsibility. It’s an incredible way to build brand trust and recognition in communities. Human resources departments report that employee volunteerism also is a great skill builder. Make these opportunities meaningful and voluntary. Look into what organizations are doing in your community, and worldwide. Microsoft, Chobani, Slack, and Yelp are have innovative volunteer programs.
Employee Recognition Programs:
Recognition can be informal and formal, the former becoming a practice of gratitude and acknowledgement within teams and the organization as a whole. Establish formal recognition programs to celebrate exceptional employee contributions (or team, department, branch contributions!). Define objectives and establish metrics. Choose recognition methods. Create a program framework. Communicate the program to employees and launch it. Regularly acknowledging achievements, both formally and informally, helps elevate team spirit and motivation.
Prioritize employee well-being by offering wellness programs, such as fitness challenges, mindfulness workshops, or health screenings. Bring in wellness experts. Consider having lunchtime yoga sessions, meditation, or after work zumba. Partner with a local sporting goods store for discounts on rentals (kayak, paddleboard, ski, snowboard and other outdoorsy gear). Get discounted (or provide) national park passes. Associate with your local YMCA or nearby fitness clubs and gyms for discounted memberships. Sign up for a local race (walking, running, cycling). There are so many ways to support employee wellness, and it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Most people pack a lunch, so why not provide a chance to connect and learn together. Organize lunchtime sessions where employees can acquire new skills, discuss industry trends, or share their expertise with colleagues. These sessions promote continuous learning and professional growth. Consider a monthly potluck, inviting an employee to share a family recipe. This gives everyone a chance to learn about traditions. It also helps build community. Schedule a once-a-month career path talk, providing employees with insights into potential career paths within the organization.
Bring this meaningful program to your organization where an employee can return to work after taking time off, without having to begin at an entry level role. These return-to-work programs are powerful to attract incredible talent, whether it’s a parent returning to work after taking time to care for a child, a caregiver of an older parent or family member, or an employee who took time off to learn how to make pasta in Italy. Take away the stigma of gap years! These programs allow organizations to hire from a more diverse pool of candidates with incredible, interesting skillsets.
Developing critical thinking skills with your staff and teams is a great way to not only engage them, but also keep them interested. Stimulate innovation and creativity by hosting challenges or competitions that encourage employees to team up and collaborate to improve problem-solving abilities. Set objectives and goals for the challenge. Structure it, according to the objectives. (Try inter-department teams so staff gets a chance to learn different perspectives and pieces of the puzzle. Get them out of their silos!). Define success factors. Choose a platform. Set a timeline and deadline. Communicate the challenge and rewards. Choose the winning teams. Publish results.
Diversity and Inclusion Workshops:
Now, more than ever, do we need to implement meaningful ways to promote diversity and inclusion at work. Workshops and discussions that raise awareness about biases, stereotypes, and the significance of inclusivity in the workplace are an important part of your DEI strategy. Leaders should attend bias reduction training as well. Implement meaningful actions to build a culture of diversity. These are building blocks to a healthy organizational culture.
Peer Recognition Programs:
This is an incredible way to improve collaboration and teamwork. Implement programs enabling employees to recognize their peers for outstanding work or acts of kindness. Peer recognition fosters a sense of appreciation and camaraderie. Launch a digital platform for employees to send virtual "thank you" cards to colleagues who have made a difference. Or, go retro! Provide employees with cards, so they can write hand-written thank you notes to peers.
Gamification is the “new black.” And, when done well, it can be a great way to improve the organization culture (and is particularly attractive to younger talent). Incorporate gamification elements into daily tasks or projects to make work more engaging and competitive. Be creative. Align gamification with your CSR program, and hold book, food, clothing drives to see which departments collect the most. Try a friendly competition among sales teams, rewarding high performers with prizes or recognition.
Office Celebrations and Workplace Parties:
Celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, work anniversaries, or project milestones with office parties, treats, or small surprises. Plan one or two bigger parties during the year to show your appreciation for staff. These shouldn’t add to workplace stress, instead be something for everyone to look forward to. Make them meaningful occasions to share, to celebrate, and to build belonging at work.
Incorporating these engagement activities into your workplace culture can contribute to a more motivated, dedicated, and satisfied workforce. Customize these activities to align with your organization's unique culture and goals. Continuously assess the effectiveness of these initiatives. Take short surveys after each event, getting important feedback to improve and adapt activities to sustain employee engagement.
““People want to know they matter and they want to be treated as people. That’s the new talent contract.” - Pamela Stroko