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30 Refreshing Employee Engagement Ideas (that Really Work)

Looking to improve engagement among your team? Check out our list of inventive and powerful employee engagement ideas.

Motion Blog
at Motion
Nov 7, 2023
Table of contents

The dynamics of the modern workplace are constantly shifting, which often ends up raising the bar on employee expectations.

Employees today need more than job satisfaction and competitive compensation. They need meaningful engagement that extends beyond routine perks and regular feedback.

That’s why our list of employee engagement ideas goes far beyond the conventional.

Each idea is rooted in fostering an environment in which employees feel intrinsically motivated, valued, and connected to the bigger picture.

Why employee engagement strategies matter

A recent Gallup poll found that over two-thirds of employees in the U.S. aren’t engaged in their jobs. This sobering statistic illustrates the need to reimagine our organizational cultures.

The stereotypical ideas of casual Fridays or occasional team lunches simply aren’t going to cut it. Today’s workforce is a blend of millennials, Gen Z, and older generations. Together, they require a deeper connection to their work and the overarching goals of the company they spend a good chunk of their waking hours supporting.

Diverse group of employees

They need workplaces that hum with creativity, collaboration, and mutual growth.

And we’re here to help with these things. Let’s jump right into our curated list of innovative engagement activities to help you cultivate a stronger, more invested team.

10 groundbreaking employee engagement ideas

Your employees demand approaches that tap into their unique motivations and desires. The following innovative strategies do just that:

1. Personalize employee journeys

Instead of offering a generic vision of each employee’s career path, infuse a personal touch into each team member’s journey.

This could mean hosting monthly personal growth workshops, implementing tools that allow employees to track their personal goals, or something else entirely.

You can design personal development plans based on each employee’s:

  • Past performance
  • Current interests
  • Future aspirations

This personalized approach will help every employee feel valued and recognized — and, hopefully, develop a greater sense of loyalty and dedication to the company.

2. Open up decision-making

When decision-making uses a traditional top-down approach, it can be difficult for employees to feel they have a genuine say in project decisions.

Incorporating platforms or tools that encourage contributions from every team member helps create an inclusive environment.

Consider setting up physical or digital idea jars in which employees can leave anonymous suggestions. Or dedicate a portion of each meeting to discuss employee-sourced ideas.

3. Encourage a time-out for innovation

Inspiration often happens outside of the everyday. So if you want to help your team feel inspired and inventive, set aside time for innovation.

Dedicate specific “innovation hours” or days during which employees can pause their normal duties and brainstorm new ideas.

You can also create quarterly company events where employees can showcase any innovations or special projects they’ve been working on — and even offer rewards for the most promising employee-initiated projects.

These tactics not only provide a break from routine, but they can also spark powerful new ideas.

4. Use reverse mentoring

While older employees have more life experience, the younger workforce also has something to offer. They’re often more in tune with emerging trends and technologies, for instance.

Younger staff mentoring company veteran

‎With that knowledge, consider offering a mentorship program to senior staff members. You could let younger workers hold “show and tell” sessions to introduce their favorite digital tools or focus on a specific technology or trend week by week.

Reverse mentoring gives younger employees a sense of agency.

5. Hold digital detox days

There’s no question that technology has boosted productivity, but it also brings about the risks of distraction and burnout.

So, carve out “digital detox” time where employees disconnect from digital tools and platforms. This intentional unplugging can allow for deep work sessions that yield high-quality work and give employees much-needed rest from relentless digital communication.

For example, you can stock break rooms with board games or have “walking meetings” where employees are encouraged to walk outside during meetings — which can be done for both in-person and virtual teams.

6. Incorporate virtual reality team building

With global teams working together across the world, many companies need a novel approach to team-building events.

Luckily, the virtual world has come far in recent years. You can mimic the camaraderie of in-person interactions through shared virtual spaces. This allows team members to engage together, adding an exciting touch to their work days.

Allow teams to explore new virtual worlds or games together. Or host sessions where they can design or modify their own virtual workspaces.

7. Create a skills passport program

Diversity doesn’t stop with hiring. One innovative approach to engagement is to create a skills passport program where employees can experience life and work in various global offices.

Skill passport program

‎This gives them the opportunity to immerse themselves in other areas of the company and gain new perspectives and skills.

Even virtually, you can introduce culture-sharing sessions from different foreign offices or offer virtual tours of other locations and teams.

8. Try out holacracy

Holacracy offers an alternative to traditional business hierarchy. In it, power is shared, and there are no set job titles. Instead, roles are fluid and defined around the work — not the people.

Adopting holacracy can revitalize the workplace and give employees the autonomy they crave. It can also ensure tasks are assigned to those who are best equipped.

Create small groups where employees can discuss and adapt to this new structure. Alternatively, set up Q&A platforms for employees to ask real-time questions about transitioning to holacracy.

9. Host fail-fast workshops

Failure is a prerequisite to innovation. But the fear of failure can stifle creativity.

Develop a healthy culture around failure with “fail-fast workshops” to explore failed projects or ideas. Employees can explore what went wrong and brainstorm ways to improve.

Failure diaries are a great way to keep a record of past failures and lessons learned. You could also invite guest speakers to share personal stories in which they bounced back from defeat.

10. Use the power of snacks

Snacks are more important than just curing hunger. They can provide a boost of energy, a moment of conversation, or even a boost to employee morale.

Offer healthy, energy-giving snacks, as well as delicious teas and coffees that encourage focus.

Let employees vote on the next month’s snacks or create themed snack days.

Even in virtual environments, staff can be sent little care packages of snacks to spice up their days and keep them engaged.

20 more innovative employee engagement activities

If the first 10 weren’t enough, here we’ll offer many more great employee engagement strategies to help you power your team.

11. Hold silent meetings

Silent meetings aren’t without action. They just prioritize written communication and cut down on verbal interruptions.

To conduct a silent meeting, start with a clear agenda. Participants will communicate by writing, either on a shared document or a whiteboard. For example, you could use a tool like Google Docs for real-time brainstorming. Remote employees are particularly well set up for these types of meetings.

12. Foster mindful work

Mindfulness can increase efficiency and improve employee well-being by recharging your staff, giving them clarity, and letting them concentrate.

Employee utilizing mindfulness

‎Hold meditation sessions or breathing exercises on a daily basis. Or provide employees with apps like “Headspace” or “Calm.”

Mindfulness workshops can also give teams techniques to combat stress and sharpen their focus.

13. Prioritize flexibility for personal lives

For your employees to be engaged, they need a healthy work-life balance.

One simple way to do this is to offer flextime, a flexible work schedule that allows employees to adjust their hours around their personal commitments. For example, an employee might start their day earlier so they can attend their child’s afternoon activity later.

Having this work-life balance boosts productivity and keeps your team happier.

14. Encourage anonymous idea pitches

Employees who have a stake in the ideas of a company are more likely to be engaged.

Create an anonymous digital suggestion box or use a platform like “Slido” for employees to submit their ideas. Anonymity allows a safe space for open and innovative suggestions. Periodically review and reward the best pitches to encourage participation.

15. Hold monthly unconference days

An “unconference” refers to an employee-led meeting with no predefined agenda.

For one day a month, allow employees to guide discussions, workshops, or training sessions. This grassroots approach can unearth hidden talents and foster a sense of community.

16. Empower employees to drive social initiatives

Tap into your team’s passions and connect their work to relevant causes.

Let them suggest the corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects they’re aligned with. For example, community arts, youth, or environmental programs may be important to them. You can then vote to select which initiatives to support.

17. Customize workspaces with augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) can turn ordinary workspaces into engaging, personalized environments.

With AR — using AR glasses or AR apps — employees can overlay digital images onto their physical space.

For example, they could transform a bland office wall into a calming beach scene. Pretending to work at the beach could relax, inspire, and connect an employee to their work.

18. Host employee story hours

Invite employees every month to share their personal stories or achievements. The power of narrative can develop deeper connections among your team.

For example, your employees could share about a trip they were recently on, a hobby, or a unique life experience. This is a great way for colleagues to understand each other beyond the workplace.

19. Set up cross-industry collaboration days

This idea is about partnering with companies in different sectors to exchange knowledge.

Let employees from each firm collaborate on projects or brainstorm sessions for a day on a regular basis. Working across industries may offer them fresh insights.

For example, a tech firm might collaborate with a health company to explore technology’s role in physical or mental well-being.

20. Designate offline days

Continuous productivity doesn’t lead to through-the-roof productivity. It leads to burnout.

Using offline work days to improve focus

Designate days where employees are encouraged to disconnect from their emails and work messages. That way, they can focus on deeper work.‎

Offline tasks could include in-person brainstorming sessions or other duties that don’t require digital tools.

21. Host environmental impact reviews

Many employees today care about their company’s environmental impact.

Every quarter, gather your team to evaluate and discuss each department’s ecological footprint.

For example, a marketing team could examine the sustainability of its promotional materials. These reviews could then lead to action, like transitioning to eco-friendly suppliers or reducing waste.

22. Enable gig-role opportunities

Create the opportunity for side hustles for your in-house workers.

For instance, introduce a platform where employees can advertise or pick up short-term tasks outside of their main roles.

A finance professional might help with graphic design, for example. This would not only encourage new skills but also bridge the gaps across departments.

23. Hold cultural exchange sessions

Diversity is a must for an engaged workforce. Celebrate it by choosing different cultures to highlight monthly.

Employees from different cultural backgrounds can share traditions, food, or stories. For example, an employee who celebrates Diwali could introduce the holiday to their coworkers through traditional foods, attire, and stories, enriching the workplace for everyone.

24. Set up decompression zones

Designate quiet spaces in the office where employees can take breaks or practice deep thinking, leaving stress behind.

These zones can include plants, soft lighting, or comfortable seats. For remote workers, you could encourage or even subsidize similar spaces for them in their own homes.

25. Hold wildcard workweeks

A few times a year, allow employees a week to work on any project of their choosing — though, for it to be approved, they have to pitch its potential benefits to the company.

That creates something to look forward to and can even spark innovation.

26. Host transparent salary workshops

This idea doesn’t work for every company. However, demystifying pay scales can be powerful in clearing up harmful myths or grievances.

For instance, having HR explain how different jobs and experience levels affect salaries can build trust among employees.

27. Connect to the community

Another way to keep your team engaged is to coordinate efforts with the surrounding local community.

Team working with local community

‎For example, your team could mentor students from local schools or give back in other ways, giving them that often hard-to-find sense of purpose.

28. Launch personal branding workshops

Empower employees by offering workshops for them to develop their personal brands. After all, both the individual and the company can benefit from increased visibility.

For instance, LinkedIn profile workshops can help employees network more effectively, leading to potential business opportunities.

29. Set aside time for reflection and planning

Business never stops. But without reflection, we can diverge from our highest goals.

Dedicate one afternoon per month for employees to review their accomplishments and set future goals. This will help align their personal growth with the company’s objectives.

30. Create peer-to-peer learning exchanges

Establish an employee engagement program where employees can teach or learn skills from each other.

A developer might offer a basic coding class. Or a salesperson could give your employees presentation tips. These exchanges can lead to a company culture of connection and continuous learning.

Power engagement with Motion

No two organizations are the same. But among the employee engagement ideas outlined here, you’ll find the ones that best resonate with your organization.

Once you select your strategies, you’ll want the right software to implement them.

With Motion’s AI software, you can seamlessly integrate these activities into your daily operations. Our app allows for task and project management, as well as an advanced calendar and other tools that prioritize workflows and streamline productivity.

Try Motion for free today!

Motion Blog
Written by Motion Blog