Having a lot of employees on your payroll, all working towards your company goals might seem like an achievement in itself. But putting a well-oiled machinery in place to sustain an amicable atmosphere will take you more than just doling out monthly salaries. It needs a little more than monetary benefits to keep employees motivated for the long haul.
Everyone needs that little push to go beyond the laid down instructions. This is why keeping your team in high spirits is your best bet. Let us look at seven employee engagement ideas that you could start right off the bat, this could either be starting an activity or creating a change in how communication takes place:
1. Create an Atmosphere Where Anything Can be Said
Well, a ‘rule’ like this should come with its limitations as there might be people who would indulge in unruly behavior. Employees could be strictly told to stay away from insulting others, engaging in racism or such behavior that can be considered disrespectful or rude to others.
Having an open atmosphere where you can communicate your mind freely not only helps a lot of employees open up, but also helps people to address issues without any worries. This would bring out cases of harassment and favoritism out in the open faster than you could have read the article.
A policy where everything is welcome would also bring out the best ideas in your employees. Do not worry about people taking advantage of this policy, as long as there are clear guidelines, there would never be any problem. In fact, it would only make your employees feel valued and respected. If speaking out were frowned upon in the workplace, imagine the kind of tensions your employees would be under not able to address their emotions about the work they do. That would be a disaster.
2. Ask Employees to Learn More
Is there an Account Manager who also wants to dabble in Digital Marketing? Get them discounts on popular marketplaces for online courses such as Skillshare.com, Code Academy, Coursera, Lynda.com and more. Some of them are subscription-based while you have the option to buy individual courses too. This will keep your team on toes because they know that you would not discourage if they happen to show interest in other areas of the work.
You will get diversified skill sets along with passionate employees who are geared up and equally grateful to you for the opportunity that you have presented them which most employees would not do. As a business, you stand to gain the loyalty of such employees, you are also additionally rewarded with employees who can assist you with different perspectives; thanks to their newfound knowledge in related areas.
To make sure that the employees are accountable in this, you can set tests for them, reward them appropriately based on their performance and also ask them to share their knowledge with their peers. This would mean that the employees get a hands-on experience when they teach others.
3. Be Casual and Flexible
One of the greatest gifts you can give an employee is being flexible with them. As long as an employee does his/her job, you shouldn’t be bothered too much about where and how they get their job done. Tell the employees that they could come in early and leave early if there are any personal commitments to keep up. Do keep in mind that an employee has a lot of other things like family and friends apart from their day jobs, as the owner of a company you need to respect it and behave accordingly.
This is so true on so many levels. People might even stay for an extra while because putting up for a few months more would mean a hike or more experience while they wouldn’t usually think twice about moving out if the immediate boss is a pain. This is why the open communication policy we mentioned earlier is a must while being flexible according to the employees’ exigencies will hold you in good stead with them.
Drop the hierarchy. Don’t let people address each other as Mr. and Miss. Make everyone address each other by names. Make it seem like a normal thing and everyone will catch up on it.
4. Have Fun in the Office
Change the perception of office time for everyone working for you. It is easy to feel exhausted and even sleepy on most work days when the morale is low. There are a lot of ways for you to include fun in the office. I know of a startup that makes their employees dance randomly in the middle of a day to popular movie songs. As weird as that might sound for the uninitiated, it becomes easy to get pulled into the vortex of energy that emanates from such an activity.
Another smart way to include fun in the workplace is to ask employees directly what they mean by ‘fun’. Do you think they would come up with a 30-mins of UNO once a week? There is no harm in it. People will lap up such mild bursts of deviation from the drudgery of work. Such little ideas of fun make coming to office less of a burden and something to look forward to.
Play a documentary or a movie once a month during office hours. If countries like Norway can make do with just 27.5 hours of work per week, then cutting down one or two hours from the working hours shouldn’t be a dampener when you look at it in the larger scheme of things. Even a cat video would break the monotony associated with work. These are some simple ideas that you could implement immediately.
5. Awarding Your Employees
This might not be the brightest idea if you have just 10 employees. But if you have a lot of people working for you, then you could have award functions where you could give out the best prizes for people who have performed the best in their field of work. Talk about each wins your employees have given to you. You can add awards to small but significant things like ‘Most Punctual Employee’, ‘Employee with the Brightest Smile’ and so on. The small trophy would mean a lot to the employees and they will cherish the experience of the day for a long time.
If there are employees who are quitting, acknowledge their contributions too. Book a hall, arrange for splendid food, add a bit of music and you have got a gala night to celebrate the contributions of your employees. Be creative with the names for the awards and come up with performances during the award ceremony to keep the employees engaged throughout the day.
6. Bring Speakers/Comedians/Artists for Extra Cheer
I cannot help but bring up this quote by John Keating (played brilliantly by Robin Williams) in the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ where he talks to his student. It goes like this -“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Expose your employees to the various art forms that exist.
A stand-up comedian should be able to lift their stories up with their own spin of day-to-day happenings in life. Not many of us know how to enjoy a painting, bring an experienced artist who could talk about Impressionism, Fauvism and Pop Art with ease. You never know, your employees will get inspired by the beauty of art around them and put their heart and soul in their work. Or even bring in a motivational speaker who could induce a lot of positivity in the workplace by talking about the importance of working together as a team as well as how to work properly.
7. Make Your Employees a Part of the Hiring Process
There is no better way to make your employees feel valued than making them a part of the hiring process. It comes with a lot of benefits other than just boosting their ego. In fact, you can get a lot of insights by the probable hire and how their skillset (or the lack thereof) would be best suited for the company.
After the interview process is over, you can ask the employee whether they think the candidate was a good fit and if not what are the reasons for rejecting them. They could be a big part of the decision making process for hiring if they have been with the company for a long time. Making them a part of the interview process is a huge morale booster for them and it is a direct message to them saying that they are valued and their contributions are appreciated.
These are some of the easiest steps that you could get done even today when it comes to engaging your employees. Employee engagement activities are a great way for a CEO to understand his employees and vice versa. This should also double up as an opportunity for employees to ask questions to the boss. Transparency should be the buzz-word in your office and your employees will be super-happy and motivated.
Make use of a good Employee Feedback Software; it will help you send periodic surveys to gauge employee happiness. Don’t stop with just collecting feedback. Take corrective actions wherever needed, so you can show that you genuinely care for your employees.
Remind the employees that you care about them with your ‘Employment Engagement Activities’, it will automatically improve their productivity and bring in a lot of goodwill. Assign people specifically to work on these employee engagement activities so that the best possible methods are brought out in the forefront.