Team building is a challenge for any leader.
It’s tough coming up with creative, engaging ideas that your team will actually enjoy.
Here are a few easy ones you can use right away.
Organize Team-Building Activities
Friendships at work are an important part of employee engagement. People need to feel like they have someone at work they can get along with.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are a huge part of what drives an employee to disengage at work.
Organizing team-building activities is a simple way to help employees build those bonds and they don’t have t cost anything. Some of them will cost you some money, but it’s more about spending time together to get to know one another.
A great idea to help make things easier for you is to allow employees to organize an activity. That gets them involved and gives them responsibility and a sense of ownership.
As a leader, you can bring up the idea of a team-building activity but then either assign a lead to take care of it, or all decide together through peer voting (Doodle is a great tool for this).
Tell Employees Not To Be Shy
This seems like something so simple and almost unnecessary to mention, but you’d be surprised how important this is.
Most employees, especially new ones, are shy.
It’s hard to really be yourself and express yourself without some fear of retribution. When there’s money involved, your career involved, your livelihood involved, you have to be very careful.
It’s important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable being themselves and expressing whatever is on their mind.
The key to a successful company culture is to remove fear from employees.
Personal growth and development (or lack of it) is, in my opinion, the biggest reason for an employee to go from being engaged to disengaged.
Employees are eager to learn and get better. It’s an intrinsic motivator for them.
As a leader, you could offer coaching to your team in the form of one-on-one or group sessions.
As a leader, you need to understand that it’s your team that will make you successful, not you. So your number one goal should be to make your team as productive and efficient as possible.
Coach them to greatness and you’ll see a team that collaborates well, performs well, and consistently hits their goals.
Encourage More Group Collaboration
It’s important that your team works well together and can collaborate well on projects without any issues arising.
Similarly, like I mentioned earlier, it’s important that employees are close with each other and are friends with each other.
Team-building activities are great, and collaboration on projects between team members is another great way to build those connections.
Plus, it gives employees the responsibility and autonomy that they need.
Give Frequent Praise
Employee recognition is an essential part of being engaged. They keyword in this one is frequent.
Most leaders give praise, but not nearly enough. If you understand how dopamine works in the brain, you’ll understand that it runs out very quickly and needs to be replenished quickly.
When an employee does something good, and they know they deserve a praise, but they don’t get it, they get very upset, understandably.
You want to be mindful of this, and try your best to see what employees are doing and recognize their efforts.
The beauty is, when you recognize them for something, they’re much more likely to try and seek our approval again. It’s in your best interest to praise them frequently, because you’ll get more productivity out of them.
Preach Your Core Values
My definition of “culture fit” is when an employee’s personal values align well with the values of the organization.
Employees need to live and breathe the core values of your organization if you want that deep level of commitment from them.
As a leader, you need to be preaching your core values over and over. There’s no such thing as too much communication.
You can even print them out and hang them on the wall. When employees are living through the values of your organization, they’ll be more engaged, because they’ll understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.
This goes back to my point about removing fear from employees. I truly believe that one of the biggest issues that holds companies back from having epic company cultures is this undercurrent of fear in the organization.
Employees need to know that failure is okay. They need to know that they won’t get in trouble if something goes wrong.
True innovation requires experimentation and a growth mindset towards failure.
As a leader, you need to make employees feel comfortable with failure, you need to make sure that they look at it as a learning experience, and not something that will affect their performance review.
Offer Courses For Learning
A great way to keep employees engaged and at the top of their game is to offer chances for them to learn new things.
I personally try to take a new course every month or two. For a while, I was using the service OneMonth where I would try and learn something new every month, just for fun, just to keep the brain working.
It’s important to be continuously improving, and taking courses is a great way to do that.
It also is a great way to bring the team together if everyone is sharing new courses they’re taking and holding each other accountable.
You can also do lunch and learns where employees teach the others something in an informal event while eating lunch.
If you’re really feeling wild, you can invite guest speakers in from the community to speak to the team.
Encourage Personal Development
Obviously as a leader you want your employees to be the best they can be. You want them to know everything possible about their domain and be the best in the industry.
In the war for talent, you need the best to win.
One way to bring your talent to the next level is to encourage personal development. You can even set aside a small budget to help them attend conferences or take classes online.
It’s a bit of an expense, but the ROI will pay for itself when you have employees that are the best in their respective domains.
And if the expense is too much, then there are enough free resources online (edX, Coursera, etc.) that you should be able to help your team.
The trick is to encourage the team to do it and to support them through the process.
Create A Great Work Environment
Part of being productive at work is being in an environment that allows you to focus and be creative.
To focus, you need a quiet work environment and not too many distractions. It’s also nice to have the office decor make you feel like you can be calm and creative.
Things like the colors, plants, lighting all have an effect on how employees will be able to work.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to make sure employees are set up properly.
Give Frequent Feedback
A great way to keep employees engaged is to help them grow through frequent feedback.
A big chunk of an employee’s time is spent wondering where they stand in the organization and if you’re happy with their performance.
Many employers are still giving feedback only once or twice a year, mostly because they’re scared to give it.
But that’s a huge mistake. Employees need feedback in real-time.
Giving feedback is ultimately about changing behaviour, and the closer you can give feedback to the behaviour you want changed, the more likely it is to change. If you wait a month or two to give feedback on something that happened long ago, it won’t have the same effect.
Involve Everyone In Decisions
A great idea for employee engagement is to include employees in as many decisions as possible.
If you want employees to connect with your organization and have the same level of passion for it as you do, then they need to feel like owners. They need to feel like their decisions matter and their opinions count.
This is great for a few reasons:
- It makes your decision-making process easier
- It makes employees feel like they’re part of the executive team
- It gets their buy-in on decisions
Keep Testing New Initiatives
Everyone on the team should have a testing mindset.
Employees should be always thinking of how to run a small, simple test before going full fledge on any idea.
If you can encourage a culture of experimentation, tracking, and metrics, you’ll have a team that is much more intelligent and strategic with what they do.
Everyone on the team will be setting goals and measuring them properly.
More than anything, you want to have an open mind, and instead of saying “no” to ideas, find a way to test them easily.
Practice Radical Transparency
Remember, knowledge is power.
You want your employees to have the most amount of information to work with. This will ensure that they have all the information they need and have as much context as possible.
Everyone needs to be on the same page, and there’s no reason why you should be hiding anything from your team.
Even if it’s bad news, employees will respect that you’re being open and honest with them. There’s no need to be shy or assume that they’ll react negatively to bad news. They can handle it.
Have Monthly One-On-Ones
One-on-ones are, in my opinion, the best tool that you have as a manager to connect with your employees.
One-on-ones are usually hour-long meetings once a month to connect with employees and find out how things are going for them at work.
It’s not a status update, it’s really just an informal chat to see if there’s anything on an employee’s mind.
But it’s private, so that’s where you’ll get the best information on what they like, what they don’t like, and what you could be doing to help them grow into better employees.
Offer Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness and meditation is arguably the best thing you can do for your overall health and happiness.
Stress in the workplace is usually pretty high, and so anything you can do to lower that stress for your team is highly appreciated.
One school replaced detention with mindfulness exercises and the results were simply amazing.
They really don’t require much time, but the effects can be outstanding.
This is a simple way to both increase engagement and wellness, while showing your employees that you care for them.
Let Employees Have Autonomy
Micromanagement ultimately stems from a fear of giving up control.
As a leader, you need to trust your employees enough to give them the autonomy they deserve.
You can even let them pick which projects they work on. They need to feel that sense of ownership to feel engaged and excited about coming to work each day.
If they know they’re going to have you weigh in on every decision they make, they can become discouraged very easily.
Give Employees Gym Passes
Remember, healthy employees have more energy. More energy means more productivity.
Yes, paying for everyone’s gym membership might seem like a bit of an expense, but the ROI you’ll get in terms of productivity will outweigh the costs.
Just the idea that you’re looking out for their wellbeing and are genuinely concerned enough about their health is enough to increase their engagement.
Collect Frequent Feedback
Similarly to giving feedback, you should be collecting feedback from your employees frequently.
Just the fact that you’re willing to listen to them and collect ideas from them shows a great deal of respect to them.
It doesn’t even have to be super formal. It could be done using Slack, an informal chat, one-on-ones, whatever works best for you and your team.
The key is really just showing employees that you’re ready to listen and act, and then to encourage them to submit feedback to you.
Support Local Charities
Another great idea for engagement is to give back to the community. This one is a great combination of team-building, employer branding, and increasing employee happiness.
There are likely charities in your community that you and your team could do volunteer at. Otherwise, a great idea is to collect money to donate from everyone on the team and choose a charity that you like.
Offer Healthy Food
Offering a gym membership is nice, but the real problem with wellness and energy levels often stems from the food we eat.
As an employer, a nice idea is to offer healthy options to your employees to make it easier for them.
There are many services now that will deliver healthy meals directly to your office, and services that can bring fruits to your office each week.
Take advantage of those services, it’s a surprisingly appreciated perk.
Organize An Event
Besides being very fun, this is a great way to help employees network and get them engaged in the process of building up your employer brand.
It could be a nice way to meet other local business that are similar to yours and create opportunities for collaboration.
Any kind of special project will be nice for employees to take that ownership and switch up their daily routine.
Establish Clear Goals
One of the most annoying things or an employee is to be confused about what’s expected of them.
Any misunderstanding of that will only lead to problems because maybe a manager and employee aren’t thinking the same things about their responsibilities.
Setting clear goals will remove a lot of that confusion.
Also, it will help make sure that everyone is working towards the same thing and is on the same page.
For things like one-on-ones or performance reviews, it also takes away a lot of the confusion because the goals were set in advance.
Enforce A Good Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance is the most important issue of the modern workplace. I talk a lot about how technology is destroying our work-life balance, with smartphones and collaboration apps blurring the lines between work and life.
It can be hard to maintain some form of balance, but it’s key for leaders to set the right example and not email/message the team on evenings or weekends.
Encourage your team to spend time with friends and family, and don’t set unrealistic expectations so that employees feel comfortable taking time off.
It’s all about creating a culture where people can speak freely, so they could bring up concerns about work-life balance if they need to.
Make Senior Leadership Visible
Like I mentioned earlier, a key part of employee engagement is having employees feel like they’re connected to the organization.
One of the most important parts of feeling that connection is making sure senior leaders are visible.
Senior leaders need to be seen as open, willing to answer questions, not hiding anything, etc.
A simple idea for this is to do monthly or bi-weekly Q&As where employees can submit questions and you’ll answer them live.
Help Employees Save For The Future
One of the biggest stressors for employees is obviously money, and if they’ll have enough of it in their future.
Many employees don’t even know where to begin when it comes to saving for their future.
That’s a great opportunity for you to help them understand and plan.
Any type of RRSP (or 401k) plan you can offer to your employees, along with helpful tips to save or where to invest, will help them remove some of that stress.
It’s essential to have fun at work.
Life is too short not to enjoy, and you spend so much time with your coworkers that it shouldn’t be all serious and uptight.
Have fun, joke around, and make sure everyone knows that’s okay.
One of our core values, originally written in french, loosely translates to “without fun, it sucks” because we want to encourage our employees that it’s okay to have fun at work. We spend most of our lives at work or consumed by our work so we need to enjoy it.
Hire For Culture Fit
It all starts with who you hire.
You need to hire incredible people that fit with the values of your company and that will fit in with the rest of your team.
The biggest thing that A-players want is to work with other A-players. Take your time to really hire the best person and make sure to test their culture fit.
It’s easier said than done, but if you hire someone, train them, and pay them, they need to get along with the team and stick around for a while.
Survey Employees Frequently
As a leader, you should always be looking to improve your organization for your current employees and to attract the best talent.
One great way to do this is to survey employees frequently to see what’s on their mind and address any concerns they might have.
Of course this won’t work unless you’re actually ready to act. In our guide to employee surveys, we show that 27% of managers never even bothered to read the results of the survey they did. 52% of manager read the results, but didn’t do anything with them.
What a waste!
Employees are willing to give you incredibly useful information, it’s in your best interest to use it and improve.
Share Content With Your Team
Sometimes as leaders, we’ll read something and it might not seem super valuable to us because of the knowledge we have, but someone on your team might love it.
You should be trying to share as much as you possibly can with your team.
If you see a webinar that looks interesting, a blog post that might help someone on the team, or a new tool to make their lives easier, you need to share it with them.
If you use Slack, you can create a channel where everyone can share some of their best stuff for the rest of the team.
When you have a team that is constantly helping each other grow and improve, you guys will achieve great things.
Act On The Feedback You Collect
There’s nothing more frustrating than being asked for feedback, spending time thinking of a good answer, only to have it ignored. What was the point of asking me in the first place?
If an employee gives you feedback, you should be grateful that they took the time to give it to you.
If you implement a suggestion that an employe gives you, it will make them happier and also feel like their opinion actually counts.
They’ll feel respected, and in turn, they’ll show you respect by working extra hard.
Remind Employees About Benefits
Chances are, you have some incredible benefits at your organization but employees aren’t aware or taking full advantage of them.
It’s important that you remind employees about the different options they have and are there to answer any questions they might have.
Anything you can do to make their lives better and easier will lead to higher engagement.
Use Collaborative Tools
A big part of employee engagement is making sure your processes are efficient and easy as possible.
One of the biggest processes that still has issues in many organizations is the way the team collaborates. Things like meetings, email threads, and brainstorming is still being done in a very old-school way.
Use the tools that exist to help improve these processes.
- Google Hangouts
It’s good for employees to meet similar people in the field of work to exchange ideas and compare notes. There are always a ton of events that you can send employees to (mostly free) where they can network with others.
It’s a good idea to encourage employees to go to these events to network, spread the word, and just see what’s out there.
The more people they meet, the more they’ll be immersed in their role and career.
Send Employees To Conferences
Sending employees to conferences is a great way to get everyone to learn, experience, and grow.
If you send multiple people to a conference it’s also great for team-building.
There’s so much that they can learn and so many cool people that they can meet.
Setting aside a small budget and encouraging employees to pick one or two conferences they’d like to attend is a great way to show them that you support their development. They’ll love you for it.
Be Flexible With Schedules
In almost every survey on what employees really want, flexible schedules comes back as a top answer.
Like I mentioned earlier, work-life balance is increasingly hard to achieve, so allowing for flexible schedules helps employees live a life outside of work.
More and more research is coming out that the smartest way to work is around your energy levels, instead of on n arbitrary schedule like 9-5.
If someone wants to work 10-6 instead or maybe 7-3 to spend more time with their kids, why not let them?
The key is you want to show employees the respect they deserve.
Organize A Potluck Lunch
A really nice team-building idea is to organize a potluck lunch or dinner, where everyone can come and bring something they’ve made for everyone else to enjoy.
It’s a fun way to eat together and just take some time to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level.
The more you can build those bonds at work, the better everyone will work together.
Plus, you’ll get to see everyone’s cooking skills.
Work Hard On Your Onboarding Process
The onboarding process if your chance to make it or break it with an employee.
It’s amazing to me how many companies still get this process wrong. With all the money, time, and energy that goes into the hiring process, it’s a shame that people don’t take onboarding more seriously.
Most onboarding processes last about four or five days, but it should be lasting months. It takes time for an employee to settle in, feel comfortable, and actually start adding value.
One idea that some forward-thinking companies are starting to implement is to have the newest employee improve the onboarding process for the next employee. This allows you to be continuously improving the process and optimize it based on real, recent feedback.
What Employee Engagement Ideas Do You Like?
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