Companies who go the extra mile to attract top-tier talent want to do everything in their power to boost employee satisfaction, which in turn enhances retention. To do that, most companies turn to employee engagement strategies to foster a sense of ownership and motivate their teams.
So, whether your turnover rate is creeping up, you want to maintain good retention rates, or you’re looking for ways to enhance team productivity and overall satisfaction, implementing some effective employee engagement strategies is a great place to start. To help you do just that, we reached out to a panel of human resources pros, employers, and managers and asked them to answer this question:
“What are some of the most creative ways managers can keep employees engaged?”
Meet Our Panel of HR Pros, Employers & Managers:
Jean Paldan is the founder & CEO of Rare Form, a full service marketing & web firm in Oxford, UK, and is an American transplant. She is a mother of 3, a reader of many books, and has a serious video game addiction.
“We are a laid back firm and don’t believe in scheduled meetings…”
As 99% of things can get done via email or instant messenger. So we made an official ‘anti meeting’ policy, Even though we were already doing it, when we instituted it as an official policy you could tell that it made a difference in attitude. Everyone became more connected in the office and via messenger to get things done. And this hasn’t waned after a year being in place.
I bought an extensive collection of Nerf guns for the office, and once in awhile you will hear a dart fly by. Once in awhile it turns into all out war. And yes it’s childish, but I have never had someone work for me that didn’t have ridiculous amounts of fun playing with Nerf guns (note I am 43 and still have a great time). Keeping a sense of fun and frivolity in the office I feel is essential to keep the team happy and productive. The scheduled ‘team building days’ aren’t something we would ever want to do or need to do because we have a tight team that already has fun together. And when people have real, not forced fun, they learn how to really work together.
Gregory Golinski is the Head of Digital Marketing for YourParkingSpace.co.uk.
“Employers can keep employees engaged by…”
Making them feel like they have a future in the company.
Employees shouldn’t feel like they’re just coming to the office to earn their pay check, day after day. They should feel like management believes in them, and wants to invest in their career and future.
Employees shouldn’t feel like they’re just grinding away on the short term. They should feel like they’re working hard because the future of the company depends on them, and because their future depends on the company doing well.
Nick Glassett is the founder of Origin Leadership and is a District Manager for a large retail corporation overseeing 25 stores across 3 states. Employee connection and engagement is his passion!
“Employee engagement is a tricky thing, and is like a lot of…”
Other team building topics in that, you don’t necessarily achieve it by focusing on it. What I mean by that is, if you want a more productivity out of your workforce, you focus on productivity but if you want more engagement, you can’t just go after that. In essence, it requires creativity no matter what because, well, what causes poor engagement? The answer to that ends up rather personal from individual to individual. So, the best two ways for a manager to keep employees engaged are; first you have to care about each employee on an individual level, and you have to take time to create that connection. It’s about going slow as you talk and teach, so you can see and “feel” how the employee likes to be treated.
The second way to keep employees engaged is to keep them in their strength-zone. You’re already going slow to get to know them, so you should also start seeing how incredibly talented they are! I see so much feedback and so many performance reviews that focus on the employees’ weaknesses, and that helps them very little. Talk about the things they do great, and you’ll be able to figure out why their so good at it! Then you can use that super power to their advantage by putting them on assignments that align to their natural talents! To drive employee engagement, you’ve got to care about them and make that a priority, and figure out what they’re good at so you can catch them doing something right more often.
Backed by extensive experience in finance and communication, Nate has been able to pursue both his professional and leisurely passions by working with Maple Holistics on becoming a leader in e-commerce.
“Managers can keep employees engaged with…”
Teamwork – When a group comes together to achieve a goal there’s an air of camaraderie fostered among them. The desire to succeed grows among ‘participating’ employees – similar to the result you get in team sports.
Training – Don’t take for granted that your employee knows what they’re doing. You hired them for their potential so help them to nurture that. Offer courses and additional training workshops to help your employees reach their potential.
Details – Really get to know your employee. Attention to detail goes a long in helping people feel like they’re in a caring environment. You don’t have robots working for you (yet). Bring in treats for their birthday and congratulate them on milestones.
Desks – There’s nothing worse than a desk that looks unowned. Encourage employees to personalize their space so that they feel like their area is theirs. Working shouldn’t be a mechanical process and neither should the area that you’re in. Nobody wants to feel like it would be unnoticeable once they were gone.
Meetings – Instead of having your next one-on-one meeting in your cozy office, why not suggest a walking meeting to get some fresh air? Or maybe sit in the café down the road. A change of scenery can go a long way in making the mundane engaging.
Control – Give your employees some control over their own work. This not only nurtures growth but shows them that they’re a trusted asset to the team. Whether it’s flexible hours or new ways of working allowing employees to have some control over their role is a great way to keep them engaged.
Adrienne Clement works in Business Development at NextPlay.ai, a startup that was founded by a former LinkedIn employee who built a mentorship program for Women at LinkedIN. Today, we build mentorship programs at scale using AI for companies like Lyft & Square.
“One way managers can keep employees engaged is…”
By offering mentorship programs. The number one job benefit desired by millennials is professional development. Mentorship programs can increase internal mobility & cross-functional knowledge. This allows employees to develop their career path within an organization.
Chris Wain is the Sales Director at Africa Travel.
“Make development opportunities more about the…”
Employee’s growth and less about what the company stands to gain from it. There’s nothing worse than investing money and time in nurturing and educating an employee, only for them to throw it back at you and leave for another job, somewhere else. Often this is because they aren’t being advanced the way they would like.
Talk to your team about which direction they would like to go in; would they like to move to a new department? Is there something they would like to try their hand at within the company they aren’t currently being given the chance to? Talking to your staff keeps them engaged because it shows you are taking an active interest in their career objectives. By doing this, you will get a sense of what they are looking for in your company; this means you can invest money in helping to get them there, within your business. Staff who feel nurtured and cared about are much less likely to jump ship.
As well as outlining clear long-term goals and ambitions, be sure to set easily attainable, short-term goals for your team to accomplish. No-pressure bonus schemes, such as a sales target to hit by the end of the month or x-amount of orders complete, helps to keep staff motivated. Small rewards like a bonus, gift certificate or even half a day’s paid vacation, keeps employees engaged and focused on completing the tasks at hand to a high standard.
Anne Brackett is the co-founder and Chief Engagement Officer of Strengths University. She is a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and Engagement Champion. Anne has supervised hundreds of employees over the course of her career and has coached or trained countless individuals in how to improve their productivity, engagement, and well-being.
“Here are several ways to increase employee engagement…”
Recognize people’s efforts and successes.
We’re all busy. There are customers to take care of and bills to pay. A paycheck is important, but employees also need to know they’re making a difference. They want to be appreciated. This doesn’t necessarily mean an elaborate “employee of the month” program or celebrating every minor accomplishment. It does mean taking the time to let people know you see what they’re doing and it’s valued. It can certainly be some sort of award, but it can also be a heartfelt card or even just taking the time to tell them face to face.
Encourage your employees’ development.
Again, we’re busy and maybe additional training or conferences aren’t exactly in the budget, but few people like remaining stagnant. Taking the time to improve your employees’ skills makes them feel valued but also benefits you in the long run. Even if money is tight, you can find inexpensive options like having people branch out to other areas within the organization or even within your team to learn and strengthen their knowledge base and skills.
Performance Reviews Are Out. Coaching Is In.
Annual performance reviews aren’t very helpful. Most people treat them as just one more thing to get out of the way. Poor managers use it as an excuse to call people out on issues that the employee had no idea was even a problem and could have been resolved quickly if it had been addressed when it happened. Even if an employee is doing well, the annual review is frequently the only time that person is told so. Performance reviews are out. Coaching is in. Meet with your employees regularly to discuss their successes, what they need to improve on, ideas they may have to improve the company, and even ideas they have for building their skills. Employees want the feedback so they know they’re headed in the right direction. Meeting frequently also lets them know they’re a valued member of your team.
Invest in Strengths.
Everyone has natural talents – you, your best employee, and your worst employee. The best teams invest in strengths. Know your own strengths and don’t worry about being the best at everything. That’s not a real thing and it keeps you from excelling. The same is true for your staff. There are many strengths-based programs and ideologies you can look to these days. I’ve found tremendous success using the Clifton StrengthsFinder from Gallup with my staff, so much so, that I am now a Gallup Certified Strengths Coach and started my own coaching and consulting business. Employees who get to use their strengths everyday look forward to going to work, are more positive toward coworkers, treat customers better, are more creative, are more productive, and more likely to stay in their job.
Remember managing your employees IS your job.
It’s easy to get lost in daily tasks and just assume your employees are going to perform like robots. When an employee situation comes up, we usually get frustrated and angry that we have to stop our job to get them back on track. It seems easier to put supervision on the back burner, but in the long run it’s not. Early in my career, if I thought there was a staff issue brewing I’d do my best to ignore it – hoping it would go away and I wouldn’t have to intervene. This rarely worked and caused me way more problems than being on top of the issue. Delegate all the tasks you can and spend a good portion on managing what is most likely one of the biggest expenses in your business – your staff.
Remi Alli holds a JD and a Master’s Degree in Health Law and heads Brāv, an online conflict management website.
“The ability for candidates to…”
Include new technology that can simplify business while increasing profit is super important in the job search process.
For example, hearing allows employees to acknowledge a colleague is speaking, but listening entails understanding what they say to you. This works online where people can now hold meetings with others sending feedback, asking questions and more.
Brāv is an online platform to manage conflicts. We are the first option to an organizations’ standard protocol to those in conflict. In addition, anyone can train in conflict management and they in turn manage the conflicts of others, directly on the site.
Also, the ability to create agreements that all can agree on and uphold is key.
If a term is violated, we hash out issues as well directly on the site. There, we use diverse functionalities, including chat bots to screen initial answers in order to expedite whether this process would be effective for the parties in dispute.
Zach Hendrix Co-founder of GreenPal which is best described as Uber for Lawn Care.
“My cofounders and I keep team members engaged by…”
Creating a monthly competition around the most important objective for that given month.
For instance this month our objective is for new supplier sign-ups and each week we measure who got the most businesses signed up for our service.
The loser each week has to throw $20 into the company Christmas party fund.
We got up to a pretty sizable pot this year so needless to say we had the best Christmas party to date this year .
Kyle Baptist is the Founder and CEO of Marconi’s Beach Outfitters and Rules To Retail Consulting, a site helping small business owners achieve sales success.
“Running a business comes with many challenges and staffing is…”
Usually number one on that list. How can managers create a fun work environment that employees will be engaged and excited to come and help your business grow?
Celebrate Performance: Be clear with the company vision and expected performance. Acknowledge and celebrate when employees achieve performance and sales goals.
Encourage Fun: Who wants to show up and perform at a job they hate? If you cultivate an atmosphere where employees can be themselves and express their own creativity, it will rub off on the store atmosphere and customers will feel it! Fun = Strong Sales
Share Gratitude: Everyone wants to feel loved and wanted — this holds true with your employees as well. They want to know and feel the support of management. Whether this is encouragement of an idea or praise from a great sale. Do it and watch the results pay off.
Cheri Torres is the author of bestselling “Conversations Worth Having”, and is a senior catalyst and consultant at Collaborative by Design, NextMove, and Innovation Partners. Her change management strengths includes facilitating strategic whole system conversations and train-the-trainer programs that give organizations the skills and tools to change culture from the inside out.
“Don’t overthink it…”
Instead of thinking “I have to be creative about engaging my employees” simply engage them—actively—in the business:
Be transparent about all that is going on and have conversations about how their role/job fits in.
When there are plans to be made, decisions to ponder, problems to solve — engage them in conversations worth having. Begin a conversation by talking about what’s up, what needs to happen, and ask generative questions that allow them to:
- Share their insights and questions
- Share their knowledge and experience
- Generate ideas and creativity
- Help innovate
- Weigh in on and support sound decisions
Engage them in ongoing learning and innovation around everything relevant to them. Teams, divisions, and organizations that are regenerative are much more successful — everything alive either grows and evolves or withers and dies.
Provide positive and reinforcing feedback 80% of the time and make constructive feedback a collaborative affair. The focus should be on growing capacity and flourishing rather than on correcting mistakes and errors. If people are growing and flourishing in the business, mistakes and errors will be made AND corrected along the way.
Simon Slade is CEO and co-founder of Affilorama, an affiliate marketing training community with over 500,000 members; SaleHoo, an online dropship and wholesale directory for eBay and Amazon sellers and co-founder of Smtp2Go, an email service provider for SME’s. Through these companies, Simon provides the education and resources for ecommerce professionals to start their own businesses and achieve occupational independence.
“One of the best ways to increase employee engagement is to…”
Include your staff in high level decision-making. Solicit input from your staff on company matters at any scale. While the final decision still lies with the manager, staff feel more invested in a company where their opinion is respected and considered. Another way to increase employee engagement is to offer professional development opportunities. Employees will appreciate having a chance to advance their skills and they are more likely to invest in a company that has invested in their growth.
Dr. Michael Provitera is a management consultant, management professor, and business book author. He certifies executives in his leadership training courses and has helped children to learn about their future careers at very young ages through training them as a volunteer.
“Here are five ways to keep employees engaged…”
- Praise people in public and give them the necessary podium-time to express their great ideas and/or accomplishments.
- Let people be authentic in that they know their own personal strengths and weaknesses — build strengths and cross out weaknesses — let them succeed.
- Remember where people came from — the pedigree personality has been replaced by hard work and assertiveness.
- Take care of your people and they will join the culture, stick by the mission and vision, and be devoted.
- Forget hourly pay — it is the most demeaning way to manage — let people work as many hours as they want as long as the work and the customers’ are being serviced accordingly.
Alan is a marketing specialist over at G2 Crowd. His expertise includes everything and anything that has to do with SEO and Mobile Tech.
“At G2 Crowd, we borrow a few methods from…”
Our development and engineering team to keep employees engaged. Developers traditionally participate in campaigns called Sprints, where they are given a certain time period to complete a project or squash bugs on a platform.
Our managers are integrating these Sprint campaigns into day to day operations in order to motivate employees. The end of the Sprint marks an transition into a new set of goals, as well as recognition of team members accomplishing the most in terms of each campaign’s established goals. Recognition includes traditional incentives.
From an employee perspective, it helps organize me towards a specific goal. I can be erratic with objectives, since there’s so much to manage with SEO and Content, so Sprint objectives that give me a clear-cut goal help.
Stephanie wears a lot of hats as the creative mastermind behind The Hire Talent’s marketing department. As a career expert, she started out managing the recruiting activity within the company gaining extensive experience in executive recruiting, candidate assessment and interviewing over the last 3 years. Stephanie has helped place hundreds of candidates across various positions and industries using behavioral interviewing techniques and hiring best practices.
“I always like the idea of…”
Managers allowing their employees a dedicated chunk of time (however long that is) each week to work on a passion project of theirs that is separate from typical activities and responsibilities that employees always work on.
Working on a project that is self-driven because an employee is interested in it, because it was their idea, or because they’re allowed to express their creativity in some other way that traditional duties don’t allow is key and helps build engagement and retention among employees.
The one caveat is that this activity should be for the fun or passion of it and not about metrics and results. Most times something like this will undoubtedly contribute to the company in other ways, such as serving to increase engagement among colleagues, or contributing to the company culture, but its primary goal is to show that the company values their employee’s for their unique contributions and proves they’re willing to make time for those things.
Petal Bovell-Proffitt is the Founder of DISC Bodhi, an HR consulting firm.
“A creative way to keep employees engaged is for…”
The Manager to build a trusting relationship with the employee. Employees who work with Managers that they trust and like go the extra mile for their Manager and team to achieve successful outcomes. Creating trust takes work with both the manager and employee. Managers have to learn what’s important to that individual, what motivates and drives them. Then they have to engage with them in a manner that works for them.
For example, a Manager who decides to praise a employee for a job well done must know how to connect with that employee. Praising an introverted person publicly may embarrass them; while praising an extroverted outgoing person may give them the recognition they need to thrive. You can see building a trusting relationship requires the Manager to customize their approach to connect with the employee in a way that she finds meaningful. Some companies use tools like disc profiles to create a common language of communication and engagement so Managers and peers can build more effective relationships and engage with each other in a meaningful way.
Roger Ferguson is the Author, Facilitator, and Lead Consultant of Big Five Performance Management.
“One of the best tools I have found to help achieve and maintain employee engagement is called Big Five Performance Management…”
It is a simple process requiring each employee to submit a half-page report, each month, detailing their five most significant accomplishments from last month and their five highest priorities for the current month. Managers respond with praise/affirmation (Go get em!), coaching (Don’t forget about the Ferguson account.), or correction (See me, we do not seemed to be aligned on priorities). These reports are usually due on the 5th day of the month and managers usually have five days to respond, further installing the Big Five process into the culture.
Benefits of this process:
- Gives employees an opportunity to tell their story, taking credit for their contributions—the ultimate motivator.
- Provides managers a great tool to help them plan and prioritize, improving productivity.
- Increases coaching quality and frequency… everyone wants feedback on how they are doing.
- Improves alignment and accountability. Did we agree on what should be done? Was it done?
- Can totally eliminate the tedious, year-end, annual appraisal process saving time and money for all.
Tim Smith was born and raised in Florida and loves to fish – he has worked with DialMyCalls for 7+ years and thrives on the growth and success of the company.
“Engagement is key when it comes to the overall morale of your employees…”
There are many different ways to go about keeping your employees engaged in your company as well as happy while at work and here are a few that we [DialMyCalls] take part in:
Weekly Lunch – Who doesn’t love good food and conversation? Every Wednesday we take all of our employees out to lunch and it’s a great way to catch up with everyone, build relationships within the company, and take a step away from the daily grind.
Annual Company Retreat – Several employees work remote or at our second office location in Texas so each year we plan a company-wide retreat in Jupiter, Florida where our HQ is located – for an entire week we do fun team-building activities such as fishing charters, bowling, lunches, and much more.
Company Bug Hunts – When releasing a new product, we love to get everyone in the company involved. We have found that holding a company-wide bug hunt is a great way to keep everyone engaged with new releases. For each bug found we offer a cash bounty and this has helped us to launch new products quicker than ever before – not to mention the feeling of accomplishment that comes when one of our employees finds a bug that the devs missed.
Dr. Marlene Caroselli
Dr. Marlene Caroselli is an author and former keynoter/corporate trainer whose clients include Lockheed Martin, Allied Signal, Department of the Interior, and Navy SEALS. She writes extensively about education, business, self-improvement, and careers and has adjuncted at UCLA and National University. Her first book,The Language of Leadership, was named a main selection by the Executive Book Club. Principled Persuasion, a more recent title, was designated a Director’s Choice by the Doubleday Book Club. Applying Mr. Albert: 365+ Einstein-Inspired Brain Boosts, her 62nd book, will be released by HRD Press in 2018.
“The times they are a’changing…”
But…they’ve always been a’changing. Change, after all, is the only constant in our lives. As the millennium turns, though, it seems the rapidity with which change occurs is overwhelming. We are over-loaded, over-informed, over-committed and under-valued (in several meanings of the word).
Amid the madness created by this culture of chaos, and the confusion spawned by the nanosecond nineties, an oxymoronic need for constancy has arisen. That constancy can easily come in the form of richuals, ceremonies and celebrations that lend purpose to life and life to purpose.
Richuals at Work was written to create constancy in terms of value — and not only around the traditional reasons for rituals: comings and goings, births and deaths, entries and exits of one sort or another. The richuals in this collection are designed to enrich the workplace and the many communities in which it resides.
Richuals are repeated actions that inspire anticipa-tion; they are collective undertakings infused with fun, gratitude, and opportunities to do unto others. Richuals was written to offset stress, isolation, and the disquieting feeling that we may not be giving back as much as we should or could.
Within the workplace, richuals help to define the culture, to reunite those divided by temporal, spatial, and
cyberspace distances. Designed for people with too much to do and too little time, these activities are simple, easy to implement and user-friendly. They represent a convenient means of translating desire into action.
Whether you are interested in building teams, build- ing partnerships, or building buildings for the homeless, Richuals will help you forge the bonds that improve your spirits, improve your relationships, and even–in a small
way–improve the community in which you live and work. You will find empowerment, stability, and esprit as you work with your corps on these richuals. You will find joy in the ceremonies that celebrate our commonalities and cherish the differences that make us unique. That joy can be trusted.
With enriching rituals — rites that have been woven into the corporate fabric — we find missions more meaningful, goals more personalized, values more valuable and contin-uity more pride-inducing.
Richuals can be initiated by anyone, at any level of the organization. You may wish to make the rituals program official by publicizing a program of once-a-week richualing. You can take the micro approach — use the richuals at Monday staff meetings or as an energizer for dress-down Fridays. You may wish to set up a team like the Joy Club they have at
Ben & Jerry’s, where fun and work are often synonymous.
Or, you can take the macro approach — use the richuals department-wide or even organization-wide. Inform customers of your efforts and maybe even the local media.
Involve as many people as possible, for a richual shared is a joy doubled.
We recommend you do one richual a week. If you follow the sequence in the book, then the ritual becomes the doing of richuals. Or, you may prefer to select a ritual at random and use it for a particular occasion, such as National Volunteers Week in January or Quality Month in October. You may even find one you like so well that you do the same richual every single week of the year. The Small Change idea (#1), for example, can easily become a richual unto itself 52 times a year.
Certain richuals coincide with national celebrations, such as Reconciliation Day, April 2, (Richual #12, “Throw Angsters Away) or National American Indian Heritage Month in November (#40, Fill Your Dreamcatcher).
Richuals are do-good/feel-good efforts that go beyond mere reward and recognition programs. They are unique and uniquely geared to repetition — that is, the richuals should become a weekly or monthly affair. Certain richuals should be annual ceremonies; others become richuals by virtue of events at work, such as a retirement.
You can decide as you read them which ones fit into the special circumstances of your life and of your job. Typically, rituals are associated with rites of passage. Birth is a time for rituals, as are death, transitions, and alliances. The common threads with traditional rituals and richuals at work are the words transition and change.
The richuals in this collection also honor human passages via celebration. But rather than focus on change, these richuals focus on constancy — ways to repeatedly acknowledge and cherish the human spirit and the generosity of which it is so capable. The common threads are sewn into a quilt with numerous patches aimed at laughter, appreciation and joy. With them, we enrich our spirit and our circum-stances. (You’ll find two interviews at the end with people who have woven richuals into their public-service work.)
The richuals can be done informally at a staff meeting or more formally at an off-site meeting in a hotel. They can occur in the outside community or in cyberspace. They can be announced on the P.A. or in local newspapers. Let creativity guide you in finding the best places for engaging in enriching actions and the fellowship that follows.
The answer to the How question depends on a number of things: which richual has been chosen, which individual or individuals are involved, how much time can be allocated, how much interest others might have, etc.
Generally speaking, though, we recommend you find a richual that calls to you. Talk it over with col-leagues. Lay out a plan for the richual ceremony; determine how much time, money, and effort will be involved. Share your plan with those whose approval/support you might need. Then implement your plan and keep on implementing it. If it is not repeated, it is not a richual.
Be guided in your soul-affirming efforts by Toynbee’s Law of Progressive Simplification: The measure of a civilization’s growth and sustainable vitality lies in its ability to transfer increasing amounts of energy and attention from the material side of life to the educational, psychologi-cal, cultural, aesthetic, and spiritual side.
Within Richuals, you will find more than enough food for philanthropic hungers, more than enough nourish- ment for the needs of the spirit, more than enough salve for healing wounds of the soul. To embellish upon an ancient African prayer:
Tend to the children, for they have a long journey ahead.
Tend to the old people, for the road they’ve traveled has been long and hard.
Tend to those in between, for they tend to all travelers.
In so doing, you will tend to yourself.
#1 Make Big Changes with Small Change
Appoint one person to be the collector of loose change. Then, on Fridays, before colleagues rush off to a weekend of fun, ask them to donate all their small coins.
If you can gather a mere $5.00 a week, you can sponsor a child in a foreign country who is living in impoverished conditions.
The Save-the-Children foundation is but one that will arrange for you to make a big change in a little person’s life.
You can reach them at 1-800-243-5075. The funds go toward community development, helping families to help themselves. You can correspond with the child you are saving and will receive an annual progress report on the development activities.
#2 Award Your Own Eponyms
They have the Toni’s for Broadway, the Emmys for daytime television, and the Oscars for Hollywood. Name an award for someone in your workplace who is truly exemplary in terms of a particular organizational value. (Don’t limit yourself to current employees.) Who really serves customers? Who really knows how to lead a team? Who really emphasizes quality? That is the person whose first name will be used as the award recognizing the particular qualities he demonstrates so well.
Once the award has been established (and a ceremony held to recognize the individual), subsequent recipients can be regularly identified and given the award with considerable fanfare.
#3 Get in a Japanese-Bathtub Mode
A favorite interview technique of Japanese firms operating in America is to put applicants in teams, give them five minutes, and ask them to list as many ways to improve a bathtub as they can. The resulting ideas are not only impressive in terms of quantity but equally impressive in terms of quality.
Periodically, assemble those grappling with a particular problem (and perhaps even those who will be impacted by its solution). Set the timer for five minutes and ask teams to generate possible solutions to the problem, stated in the form of a question.
Kamyar Shah is a small business advisor helping you increase profitability and productivity, offering remote CMO and Remote COO services.
“Employee engagement or maximization of thereof…”
Has less to do with creativity than it has with the methodology. Sure, there can be one-offs in which one particular idea gets the attention of employees, but it is by no means the way an organization should have creativity as its main engagement strategy.
The true way to have long-term and consistent employee engagement is to involve the employees themselves. Their input and requests should be the most significant element of the employee engagement program. Couple it with a consistent feedback loop and you have yourselves a winning employee engagement strategy.
Andrew Rawson came to Traliant with more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, and marketing. Most recently, Andrew served as the Global Head of Compliance Learning (eLearning) at Thomson Reuters, an information, technology, and services company with more than 60,000 employees.
“One creative way to keep employees engaged is to…”
Incorporate play into work. It may sound counter-intuitive but it definitely helps to keep employees engaged. Mixing laughter and humor into the workday creates a better atmosphere for all. It is possible to have fun while getting great work done at the same time. In addition, it is always important for management to show their humorous or playful side in an appropriate way. This shows the employees the human side of the people in authoritative positions. Each of these is a great way to not only keep your employees engaged but keep them happy as well.
Jennifer Way is a national speaker and consultant on hiring, developing top talent, and building personal career management strategies. Her passion is highlighting people’s unique skills and abilities, so they can express those skills through their work. She is the founder of Way Solutions, an HR consulting firm that aligns retention strategies with personal career management. Her clients include CareerBuilder, Nissan, Disney, Microsoft, HCA, and many more. Prior to her current company, she served at marchFIRST, KPMG, and led field recruiting for Dollar General Corporation. Jennifer frequently speaks, blogs and consults on behalf of CareerBuilder. She authored several of their learning solutions and often facilitates workshops on their behalf. Jennifer’s book, Caffeinate Your Career, is a collection of career management activities to pair with your morning coffee ritual.
“The same things that attract top talent are the same things that retain top talent…”
To attract top talent, magnetize your candidate search by using recognizable stories instead of traditional job descriptions. For example: ‘You’re probably a savvy and dynamic worker who gains energy from constant change and retains a clear purpose in your work. You have a proven track record of going beyond expectations. You have many skills and you’re hoping to gain some more.’ The use of stories will attract the right candidates and repel the wrong ones.
Offer employee perks. Perks only entice top talent if they’re aligned with what that top talent finds valuable. A candidate who is done having children would likely not find a generous maternity/paternity leave policy enticing. For large companies, offering a wide variety of employee perks can allow something to be enticing for everyone. Think about ways to bring value to people in groups. Can you offer free lunch one day? A yoga or meditation class once a week? Host an event for the families of employees? For smaller companies, focus on what value you can bring to each individual. Can you offer additional time off around the holidays for staff to spend time with their families. Can you offer flexible work hours or ‘work from home’ opportunities?
Managers should advocate for opportunities for employees, stretch assignments, offer advancement advice, help navigate corporate politics, incorporate personal career management curriculum, and defend the work of their employees.
Jacob J. Morris
Jacob J. Morris is the founder of Discover Your Values, a personal development program designed to help individuals identify, explore, and live by their values, leveraging a scientifically-valid values framework created by social psychologist Dr. Shalom H. Schwartz who pioneered The Theory of Basic Human Values.
“One of the best ways managers can engage their employees is…”
Doing an activity with their employees to identify their personal values and discover how they align with the organization. Managers can continually use these insights to engage and motivate their teams.
Kris Hughes, and I’m with Austin-based project management software company, ProjectManager.com. In my current role, I’m in charge of daily management of our social media and content marketing efforts, and in previous roles with digital publishers Wide Open Media Group and Rant Media Network I managed large teams of social media managers and content creators, while also maintaining my own individual contributor responsibilities.
“One of the most important things for any manager to realize, and act upon, is…”
That engaging and motivating employees is never a one-size-fits-all strategy. Each of your team members will certainly have very different personalities, hobbies, and interests that require creativity and a unique approach to make each individual feel truly appreciated within the framework of your team. They also will have very different work styles.
Given this, everything starts with getting to know your team members on a personal level, and understanding that their lives outside of the offices are very different than what you may be familiar with in the walls of the office. Through some sleuthing, figure out exactly what motivates each person. Do they like sports? Maybe it’s a surprise set of tickets to the big game. Are they big readers? A gift card to Amazon for their Kindle or the local indie bookstore could do the trick? Huge movie buff? Well, you get the idea.
The moral of the story is the better you know your team as individuals, the better you’ll be able to craft how you reward them for a job well done and accordingly keep them engaged and motivated at a high level for the long-haul.
Aleassa Schambers is the Director of Marketing for Root Inc.
“Honestly the best way for a manager to engage his/her people is to…”
Help each individual understand the role they are playing in helping execute the company strategy. That sounds simple, but it’s a big gap in most organizations. The lower you go in an organization, the more disconnected they become from the big picture strategy. So it’s up to the manager to help their people:
- Feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves
- Feel like they’re going on a journey
- Help people feel a sense of belonging
- Help people understand their contribution
These four Roots of Engagement are proven to change engagement levels at organizations, but it does rest firmly in the hands of the managers to help each of their people understand how they are connected.
Eric Hobbs is the CEO of Technology Associates. Hobbs started in 1991 as Network Administrator for a professional liability insurance carrier and was later promoted to IT Manager. In 1997, Eric started Technology Associates with the mission to provide ‘Big Company IT’ to businesses who didn’t have an IT staff. Over the years, Eric has worked with businesses large and small to help leverage technology for a competitive advantage.
“Have a variety of non-monetary awards and accolades…”
There was an infamous episode The Office, where temporary boss Andy Bernard set prize of getting a tattoo of the employees choice on his bum if they hit their sales quota for the week. As silly (and hilarious!) as this episode was, there was a great hidden truth. Employees are not solely motivated by gift cards or cash prizes. People are motivated by bragging rights, competition, and conquering unforeseen forces. Make outlandish contests and games in your office. Have a cow suit or some grand prop your employees get to play with if they succeed in hitting their goals. Bring in a dunk tank and as the executive pledge to sit in the tank if they hit their goals. Or maybe smash a pie in your face. Or maybe eat pie. By creating an office environment of non-monetary wins and spontaneous prizes, you charge your office with an electric moral of motivation.
Robin Schwartz, PHR is a Managing Partner at MFG Jobs.
“There are a few creative ways managers can keep employees engaged…”
Ask For Feedback and Ideas
Employees may have reason to believe their company doesn’t want or need their input when it comes to organizational goal-setting. Offer various mediums where employees can share what their goals are for the coming year and work to align them with the company’s goals. Some employees would be eager to share ideas in an open forum or focus group while others would prefer to share their ideas one on one or through survey data. Give your employee multiple options when it comes to adding input.
Create a Teambuilding Committee
The rewards employees would often like to see aren’t always the ones management decides on. Companies should refrain from having leadership decide at all times what’s best for employee engagement.
Consider creating a committee of staff members to discuss potential teambuilding activities. Provide the committee a small budget per fiscal year in order for them to carry out potential activities or rewards. Teambuilding activities should reward the employees as much as they engage them to interact with their co-workers. The committee may plan an annual employee picnic or regular social events outside of the office. Events don’t always have to be monetarily supported by the company. Just by organizing a happy hour or bowling night outside the office is half of the reward.
A teambuilding committee may also be tasked with developing volunteer opportunities within the local community. Inviting employees to volunteer for a local organization for a few hours during their standard work day shows a company is committed to improving the lives of people locally and within their organization. The cost of allowing employees to take a few hours off of work is minimal compared to the return a company could see with engaged employees.
Ketan Kapoor is the CEO & Co-Founder of Mettl.
“First and foremost, you must learn that engagement stems from motivation…”
If employees are able to drive meaning from their work and seek fulfillment; only then the idea of engagement works. These are my time-tested ideas to drive engagement:
Allow Liberty to Experiment
If you are fixated about doing a task in a certain way because it’s been done like that since ages, it’s time for a change now. You must allow your employees to bring in unconventional ideas to solve a problem and most importantly, allow them to implement or realize the idea. There’s again a caveat to the approach. Render them your complete support to implement an idea and propagate the idea of “WINNING” and “FAILING” together and not standalone. When employees get your support and are not afraid of a beating; they work with full potential that drives engagement. When you win, you win and if you lose, you learn together. That’s that.
Promote Healthy Competition
Employees thrive for change and challenge and equipping them with both is a sureshot strategy to drive engagement. Allow them to break the monotony and let them be a part of group efforts. The idea is to foster healthy competition among peers while helping each other unearth the full-potential beyond the regular work they do. It’s like killing two birds with one stone. Not only you improve peer-to-peer interactions to create a healthy work environment, you also plant the seeds to better learning agility.
Adapt a Purpose-Driven Approach
Employees strive for fulfillment and targets are only the outcome. Rather than making targets the deal breaker, show them the power of individual contributions in unlocking the potential of the organization. Appreciate individual contributions and continue fulfilling the desire for fulfillment. Once employees find a sense of belonging in the tasks they do, the targets will follow.
Lauren Gilmore is the Owner of PR&Prose. She is a dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing, and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling.
“Unfortunately, most companies are one sided with this tactic…”
They want their employees to share on social media, but managers don’t think about rewarding employees who do.
A simple way to do this is to highlight an employee every month. Not only does this show that a company cares about their employees (a necessity in this era of authenticity) it makes the employee feel valued and then they are proud to share the content. Not to mention it’s guaranteed monthly content and one less idea you have to brainstorm.
Another tip I highly suggest is to provide social media training. A lot of times that employees aren’t engaging with the company online is because they just don’t know how. By offering training – by how to retweet to building up an effective and inspiring account (but not a forced, robotic every employee has the same profile) will give employees the confidence and know-how to not only share company posts and articles, but to make it more effective to their audiences which is why you have them share in the first place.
Steve is an Indonesian-born serial entrepreneur and marketer. He has launched and runs tech and F&B companies, and responsible for content marketing and growth strategy of Nine Peaks Media, a performance-based digital marketing agency. Addicted to great stories and creating great content.
“A unique way I’ve implemented with my team is to run a monthly riddle contest…”
So, the first one who answered right will get a prize. At first, I fund this from my own pocket, If I remember correctly the prize was a modest $20. Since the team liked the concept, now each of us can contribute voluntarily to the money pot, and each month different people can make the riddle(s). At one time, the money pot was piling up so the winner got a brand new iPhone.
Doug Press is the CEO of The Incentive Group, a full service, Performance Improvement Marketing agency with Best Practice services in Employee Engagement, Customer Loyalty and Sales Incentive programs.
“Delivering an interactive and rewarding program will…”
Increase overall Employee Engagement and also specifically drive them towards the organization’s desired areas of focus. A robust Employee Engagement program consists of 3 pillars to successfully improving Employee Engagement:
- Communicate: Turnkey Employee Engagement programs will provide direct communications through the program to your employees. Building Digital Dialog creates the means to share your content while also collecting their feedback through surveys.
- Educate: Integrating existing Learning Management Systems and training materials to the point earning rewards program inspires greater participation. Following online or live training opportunities, test employees on their understanding and offer points for each correct answer.
- Motivate: Employees will be eager to deliver when they have the opportunity to earn rewards for their continued engagement. More than just recognition, there’s something in it for them and in fact more valued with the gift of choice! Using self selected rewards from a wide array of brand name merchandise and travel makes it more meaningful as we’re motivating employees to do what we want, for their reasons.
You not only bolster Employee Engagement with a rewards program, but also collect information and insights that can be used to optimize engagement even further. Measuring Employee Engagement through periodic surveys with the calculation of their Engagement Index makes it easy for you to provide reporting insights broadly for one Business Unit vs. another or drill down for each individual Manager. The Engagement Index and corresponding analysis allow you to monitor the results of the communication, education, and motivation of the program.
Todd Squitieri manages a small course on Udemy right now called Teaching Without Technology and has hired a number of people over the years, through various platforms.
“One way that I keep employees engaged starts with…”
Hiring the right employees in the first place who are genuinely intrigued by what it is that I’m doing. This doesn’t always happen, and admittedly, I’ve missed the mark a few times, but short of this, I give bonuses, I raise the pay if the employee is exceptional, I provide more work that’s consistent and I pay on time. I also openly advertise employees to other people, and I provide positive reviews of their work. I make referrals and write recommendations and I mention them in my marketing materials sometimes, as a means of thanking them.
Xavier Thorens is a specialist in recruiting, attracting and retaining skilled labor. Expert of best practices to maximize motivation at work and mobilization of work teams. Invited speaker on the impact of leadership, work organization and compensation on recruitment and retention of key employees. President of Thorens Solutions Headhunters, we recruit Quebec-wide executives, professionals, engineers and IT specialists.
“Here are a few creative ideas for keeping employees engaged…”
Idea #1: Consistent line of communication
To keep your employees engaged, effective communication is key. If your employees feel like they can never approach you or their superiors if they have questions, concerns or suggestions, this could create frustration in the long run. This can easily be done by having an open door policy, or office hours when employees can come in and discuss what they have on their mind, as well as encouraging honest and direct feedback from both sides.
Idea #2: Let employees know how their work helps supports the company’s vision
When working on one or a couple of tasks on a bigger project, it can be hard for employees to feel like their work is doing anything significant for the company which could lead to weariness and disengagement. Make a point to let your employees know how their work fit in the company’s vision and growth, and how their day-to-day tasks have an impact on the long run. This can easily be done by having a direct line of communication and providing frequent feedback to employees. Let them know why their work is important and how it impacts the broader vision of the company, what type of solutions and growth it will bring. Feedback doesn’t have to be formal, it could be as simple as stopping by an employee’s desk and letting them know how well their last projects went.
Idea #3: Allow employee to start project within the organization
Employees stay engaged when they feel like they’re involved and have an impact on their companies. Make sure to make space in your employees` agenda during the week to get involved in continuous improvement projects. It could be anything from brainstorming and finding new processes to improve relationships with clients, productivity, maintenance, etc. Inviting and encouraging employees to take part in decisions and projects that helps improve the company’s operations is a great way to make your employees feel like their ideas are valued and valuable, making them more engaged and bringing a sense of belonging and accomplishment.
Leah Senecal is the Chief Operations Officer at sparkspace. a creative meeting venue in Columbus, OH.
“As a leader it’s easy to fall into the ‘same old routine’ mentality, because let’s face it…”
It’s easier. However, in my experience, the best way to keep your team engaged is to continuously “break the script.”
One of my team’s favorite moments is when I brought in a funny board game from home to start off our weekly staff meeting. This simple change in routine increased employee engagement, moral, and let’s face it…we burned a lot of calories that day with all the laughter. If you put the extra effort into finding ways to “break the script” your employees are sure to be engaged.
Ostap Bosak is the manager at Marquis Gardens, the largest Water Feature and Pond Supply Retailer in the Toronto area.
“Throughout the years of our continuous growth…”
We have discovered that the best way to keep employees engaged is to not let them get bored. Despite of the simplicity of that statement, it is often very hard to achieve.
Any small business is in the unique position to make it work by allowing for the right employee wear multiple hats. People who switch tasks frequently stay more engaged in the company’s business as the whole. They know what is happening on many more levels than just their particular task, which often leads to many new excellent ideas on the company improvement as the wholesome organism.
Angela Stringfellow is a writer with 10+ years of experience. She focuses on news, trends, and insights in marketing, business, and technology.