15 Employee Engagement Ideas That Work in 2023

March 9, 2023 Workhuman Editorial Team
employee engagement ideas at work

Are you struggling to motivate your employees and looking for new employee engagement ideas? As an employer, it’s essential to prioritize employee engagement to bring out the best in your workforce.

According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, over 71% of executives believe that employee engagement is critical to achieving business success.

While free pizza and cupcakes may be appreciated, they alone cannot sustain engagement in the long term. To truly engage employees, employers must focus on tactics such as implementing mentorship and recognition programs.

In this article, we will explore effective strategies for engaging employees and building a strong team.

15 employee engagement ideas

When employees enjoy what they are doing and feel seen doing it, they are likely engaged in their work. If employees don’t feel that way, however, it’s time to find out what’s missing and how to fix it. It’s up to you to figure out what’s missing, but we’re here to help you fix it by providing 15 examples of ways to better engage your workforce.

Let’s dive in!

1. Mentorship

Gaining work knowledge should be an ongoing process. It keeps employees engaged, rather than stagnant in their position and overall career. Mentorship programs offer an exceptional solution to foster knowledge-building in your employees.

Accordingly, over 50% of employees are better retained after undergoing a mentorship program. Another statistic states that approximately 94% of employees would continue working with the same employer that provides multiple learning opportunities.

Some of your employees may already be seeking this opportunity and directly confront you about it. For this reason, we suggest hosting weekly coaching sessions. Be sure that they’re optional to avoid any disgruntled employees coming in, who have their own methods of development.

2. Employee recognition

give recognition to engaged employees

Employee engagement and recognition are closely related. Whether through performance reviews or general evaluations, recognition plays a crucial role in fostering engagement. Recognition can take many forms, such as sitting down with your employees and giving them feedback.

Emphasizing their strengths can boost their confidence and overall morale, which in turn can increase their engagement levels.

Additionally, if an employee has had a feedback discussion with their employer in the past six months, they are 3x more likely to be engaged in their career.

Other methods of recognition could include an award system that recognizes high-performing employees and provides them with bonuses.

Case study: Adobe

Appraisal systems often have a bad reputation, with only 6% of CEOs believing they are useful. During appraisals, employees are fully evaluated by their superiors, who then decide whether to promote them or keep them in their current position.

Overall, appraisal systems are an ineffective technique for promoting engagement. As a result, companies like Adobe have turned to different methods of giving feedback, such as check-ins.

Check-ins are dialogues that can take place on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to assess an employee’s progress. Adobe adopted this recognition tactic in response to employee complaints about how long it takes to receive feedback through the appraisal process.

With check-ins, you can evaluate and recognize your employees throughout the year, rather than just once a year through the appraisal system.

3. Onboarding technique

Onboarding is the process by which companies introduce new recruits and show them the ropes. This phase in an employee’s life cycle is critical for building engagement. With the right onboarding technique, you can instill excitement and eagerness to begin working at your company.

Despite its importance, companies may not be giving enough attention to onboarding, as evidenced by the mere 12% of employees who report benefiting from the initial recruitment process.

When onboarding is done right, it can yield a solid return on investment (ROI). One way to approach onboarding is by allowing already-engaged employees to mingle with new recruits. Here are a few tips to improve your onboarding process.

Start with activities

On the first day of onboarding, choose from a variety of ice-breaking activities to help new recruits get to know each other and build camaraderie. These activities can also provide opportunities to sneak in information about the roles and responsibilities.

Talk about the essentials

Cover the job description, expectations, work hours, break times, and provide a tour. Additionally, you can provide new employees with important contacts in case anything isn’t clear.

Ask upper management to join

Senior workers can provide insight into the company’s vision, mission, and overarching objectives. They can also discuss their career journey while working at the company, motivating new employees and increasing engagement.

Designate enough time

Recognize that onboarding is an ongoing process that can extend over three months or up to a year. This gives new employees ample opportunity to become fully integrated and engaged in their work environment.

Discuss company culture

After a brief tour and introduction, new recruits will have formed an initial impression of the company’s culture. However, it’s important to specifically mention the company’s values, expected attitudes, behavior, and conduct requirements.

This will enhance the company’s professional image and help employees feel more proud and engaged in their roles.

4. Be more results-oriented

The output vs input model is a valuable topic when it comes to employee engagement. Rather than closely monitoring your employees’ every move, we suggest giving them the freedom to choose how they work. This approach can challenge their time management skills and provide them with more autonomy in their work life.

That being said, being a good employee doesn’t mean working tirelessly for long hours. The key indicator of a good employee is the output or results of their work. As long as your employees are completing their work efficiently and on time, you can be confident that they’re engaged without the need to micromanage them.

5. Bring more meaning to work

engaged employees working to find solutions

Having a sense of purpose at work is a crucial factor for employee retention and engagement. One effective way to foster this sense of purpose is by educating your workers about what the organization hopes to achieve in the future.

This way, employees can understand their role in actualizing the organization’s vision and feel like their contributions are meaningful. To build this sense of purpose, you should inform them of their strengths and how they fit into the organization’s overall structure.

Research shows that 80% of employees report a positive work experience when their personal values align with those of the company they work for.

Creating meaning in the community

Ideally, a company’s mission should aim to benefit the greater community. Take, for example, PayPal’s mission statement: “We believe that every person has the right to participate fully in the global economy.” As a Fintech company, PayPal has found a way to align its values with the greater good of the community. This approach helps employees feel like they’re making a difference, leading to increased engagement.

Creating personal meaning

In addition to benefiting the community, work should also be personally meaningful to employees. As an employer, you should strive to understand what motivates and inspires your workers, unlocking their full potential and engagement.

For example, if you’re a school principal, the teachers you hire must be fully engaged in their roles to properly educate your students. Lack of personal engagement can have a negative impact on students’ performance levels.

Finding personal meaning in work brings a positive attitude and eliminates “autopilot work.” Passion for the industry is a key factor in fostering personal meaning and engagement in employees.

6. Be responsive to employee feedback

After multiple check-ins and surveys, your employees may request improvements to their work environment. If you or senior leaders fail to act on this feedback, employees are likely to become disengaged from the engagement methods you attempt.

If employees feel like completing a survey is a waste of time without tangible results from their superiors, their trust in the organization may diminish, resulting in low engagement levels.

quiz conducted for HR executives asked how willing their companies were to take action after receiving employee survey results. Only 5% of respondents said they were unwilling to make any changes after the surveys. However, a more significant 30% of participants indicated that they were willing to take action but failed to follow through.

Check out this white paper for 9 tips for giving feedback at work (without the stress).

7. Boost physical activity

wellness and engagement go hand in hand at work

If your work involves a sedentary routine, your employees may face health issues. Over 80% of jobs don’t require movement or much physical activity, which can negatively impact engagement levels.

Integrating a physical activity program can prove highly beneficial. Studies show that if an employee gets around 75 minutes of exercise every week, they won’t need to use up about 4.1 days of sick leave. Fewer sick days mean more engagement.

Additionally, increased physical activity leads to better mental health and overall workplace morale.

To implement this tactic, you can try:

  • Providing a walking path or on-site gym area.
  • Accommodating space for bicycles to encourage active transport to work.
  • Making break time more flexible to allow designated time for physical activity.
  • Providing on-site changing facilities and showers.
  • Encouraging employees to use stairs through signs next to the elevator.

8. Try implementing stay meetings

“Stay meetings” allow employees to discuss why they’re staying in their roles and potential reasons for leaving. This gives you valuable insights into points you can improve in the workplace to increase engagement levels.

Stay meetings are more personalized and provide more information about why an employee is leaving or staying compared to employee surveys and check-ins. Both quantitative and qualitative metrics are crucial for measuring employee engagement.

9. Build stronger workplace relationships

strong work relationship

Communication plays a pivotal role in shaping company engagement. Employees that become closer friends form a more productive and cohesive team. Additionally, your employee turnover rate is likely to decrease since workers will have a harder time leaving their close co-workers. Employees who have six or more work peers feel more connected to the company.

10. Provide empowerment

Empowering your employees’ voices gives them a push in the right direction regarding engagement. More that 7 in 10 employees feel that empowerment and engagement go hand in hand.

The first thing to consider in terms of empowerment is employee autonomy. Give them space to make decisions their way, making employees feel more autonomous in their work environment, rather than being fully controlled by upper management.

Micromanagement inhibits employee engagement and performance levels. Over 71% of employees report that micromanagement negatively affects their performance.

Employees that are more independent and feel heard are 2x more likely to report positive feedback in their workplace.

11. Tackle employee burnout

Addressing burnout is crucial in building a positive workplace culture and retaining employees. Studies show that over 54% of employees report experiencing fatigue and depletion after a day’s work.

One effective way to avoid burnout is to promote work-life balance. As an employer, consider emphasizing the quality of work rather than long hours worked. This could involve implementing a hybrid schedule with both remote and office working hours.

In addition, offering paid time off can be beneficial. For instance, you could allow employees to show up for half a workday on one Friday per month or provide time off for mental health days.

Recognizing employees for their hard work and achievements can also alleviate burnout. This could involve acknowledging and rewarding employees who take initiative to help their co-workers or exceed expectations. Don’t forget to regularly check in on employees’ emotional and well-being needs to ensure they feel supported and valued.

Ready to say goodbye to employee burnout? Check out this white paper on Easing Employee Burnout. Let’s go!

12. Challenge employees

If your employees are not being challenged, their engagement levels are likely to decrease. To combat this, employers can provide learning opportunities and offer challenges to their staff.

For example, in the education field, a school principal could educate their teachers about new and better teaching tactics and implement a reward system for those who meet certain standards. These rewards could include early leave or an extra coffee break.

This kind of engagement model is highly effective in not only building engagement but also improving employee productivity rates. Additionally, it allows your employees to seek knowledge to fulfill the challenges requested and achieve a sense of commitment to their work.

13. Employee surveys

After focusing on recognition, it’s important to gather feedback from your employees through surveys. This helps you understand their thoughts and feelings about the workplace, especially if your KPIs or performance levels are going down.

Surveys can help you identify pressure points and make changes that improve engagement. To make sure employees are comfortable and honest in their answers, keep survey responses anonymous.

While surveys are a useful tool, they can be ineffective in some cases. For example, only about 33% of employees submit their responses, and only 20% of employees believe that managers will consider their feedback.

To avoid these issues, here are some tips for building effective employee surveys:

Keep it short and simple: Employees will suffer from survey-taking fatigue if the survey is too long. Keep the survey short and straightforward to increase participation rates.

Avoid biased questions: Avoid questions that confirm your agenda, cause employees to present themselves in a good light, or are given to an exclusive sample of employees.

Center it around the employee: The questions should relate to the employee’s daily work routine to provide insights into how to improve engagement.

Be consistent: Surveys should be a regular check-in to stay on track with employees’ thought processes throughout the year. Consider making surveys monthly or quarterly.

14. Set up activities

After discussing some major points of engagement, let’s get into the fun stuff. Nothing sparks engagement like a day of games and team-building activities accompanied by good food.

These activities will essentially act as a way to increase communication between employees to build meaningful friendships. Subsequently, these friendships will help alleviate high turnover rates.

Here are some fun activities worth trying out:

1. Virtual team building activities: With the trend of remote work, virtual team building activities are becoming more popular. These activities can range from virtual escape rooms, online trivia games, and even virtual happy hours. Virtual team-building activities can help increase communication and team bonding even if employees are not in the same location.

2. Improv activities: Injecting light-hearted humor in the office will break off any tensions or stress within the team. Improv games do just that and improve your team’s collaborative and listening skills. You can book an improv workshop or simply add it to a series of other games you’ll play on-site or off-site.

3. Escape room: An escape room is a physical adventure game where players solve puzzles and riddles to escape a room within a time limit. This activity can be done on-site or off-site and requires teamwork and critical thinking skills.

4. Scavenger hunt: Scavenger hunts are highly engaging and allow your staff to build some critical thinking skills. You can hide items around the office or off-site, and each one holds a clue to the next. It doesn’t have to be items alone; you can place QR codes, photos, or people from the team to give hints.

5. Cooking classes: Cooking classes can help employees bond over a shared love of food. You can either bring in a chef to teach a class or have employees teach each other their favorite recipes. This activity can also be done virtually.

Remember to keep the activities inclusive and ensure that everyone feels comfortable participating. Additionally, consider providing rewards such as extra time off, gift cards, or company swag to incentivize participation and make the activities even more enjoyable.

15. Educate upper management on employee engagement

Continuous learning is essential at all levels of an organization. Even top-level executives need to stay updated on how to build a positive workplace culture and retain employees. Educating upper management on employee engagement is crucial for achieving this goal.

As an HR professional, you can explore various methods and resources to provide this knowledge to senior workers. Leadership seminars or training programs that focus on employee retention and engagement can be useful. These programs can cover topics such as building loyalty, showing gratitude, and helping employees understand their roles.

By providing education and resources to upper management, they can take an active role in building a culture that fosters employee engagement. This can help retain top talent, reduce turnover rates, and create a positive work environment for all employees.

engaged employee thinking about results

The purpose of employee engagement

The benefits of employee engagement for an organization are numerous. According to a Gallup study, an engaged team can increase profits by over 21%. Besides this, here are some other reasons why employee engagement is crucial in any work environment.

Improved communication

Employee engagement is rooted in the relationship between an employer and their employees. This relationship should be more than just a transaction where the employer pays and the employees work. Engagement involves establishing a communication style that caters to the personalities of all employees.

Company growth

Engagement leads to increased productivity, which translates to company growth. Higher employee retention and lower turnover rates are some of the other benefits of an engaged workforce. An engaged staff can report up to a 67% decrease in turnover rates, which is significant.

In addition, engaged employees tend to have a more positive outlook and attitude towards their work. This is particularly advantageous in business-to-consumer (B2C) models, where satisfied customers result in a 10% increase in customer ratings.

Alignment with company values

Engagement also promotes the better application of a company’s core values. When employees are engaged, they are likely aligned with the organization’s mission. As a result, if a company holds initiatives, engaged employees are more likely to participate and embody those same values.

Brand advocacy

Employees’ experiences with a company are often shared via word-of-mouth, particularly in the age of social media. A company can leverage this situation and turn their employees into brand ambassadors. This marketing tactic involves employees sharing the benefits of using a company’s services because of their heightened engagement levels.

For example, a business can repost content from employees who use their products and genuinely enjoy them on social media platforms.

What are the characteristics of an engaged employee?

Now that you know how to increase employee engagement, it’s essential to recognize the characteristics of an engaged employee. Here are some common traits:


Engaged employees are highly motivated and focused on completing their tasks efficiently. They enjoy challenges and strive to maintain their performance metrics. However, it’s essential to avoid creating a work culture that encourages employees to work long hours, which can lead to burnout and adverse health risks.


Engaged employees are proactive and eager to take on additional responsibilities. They seek opportunities to improve their skills and knowledge, and they may ask for coaching or mentoring to achieve their goals.


Engaged employees are team players who are willing to collaborate with other departments. They seek to better understand the company’s vision and contribute to the organization’s success. For example, a copywriter who collaborates with the marketing department may produce better quality work.


Engaged employees are supportive of their colleagues and are always ready to help others. They understand the importance of teamwork and how it contributes to the company’s success. Their support is crucial in keeping other employees engaged and motivated.


Engaged employees are disciplined and organized. They rarely need reminders about their deadlines or tasks and complete them ahead of schedule. Their diligence and focus on their work make them valuable assets to the organization, and they have the potential to succeed in managerial positions in the future.

celebrate engaged employees

Signs of a disengaged employee

Disengagement may be described as working on autopilot. This lack of engagement often yields lower productivity rates and a downgrade in morale. Check out some of the signs of disengaged employees below.

Negative attitude

A negative attitude could stem from various reasons, ranging from lack of recognition to poor communication. This negativity can spread to other employees and foster a non-cooperative work culture.

To avoid this, employee recognition and empathy should be top priorities. Otherwise, the negative attitude will only worsen.

Increased absenteeism

Increased absenteeism is often a sign that an employee is disengaged. A pile of sick days taken is a tell-tale sign that the employee isn’t motivated enough to show up to work.

Conducting a mental well-being check-in with the employee can help to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to their disengagement.

Lack of motivation

Disengagement can also stem from a lack of motivation or unwillingness to excel in a position. Some well-performing employees can experience a dip in motivation and may not show up for mentorship programs, exhibit restless behavior at work, and only do the bare minimum of their workload with little to no enthusiasm.

This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “quiet quitting.” A statistic indicates that at least half of the U.S workforce engages in quiet quitting.

engaged employee talking to manager

What are the latest trends in employee engagement?

Work culture has evolved throughout the years as companies welcome new generations into the workforce. Employee engagement trends have developed to cater to new needs. Some of these include:

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce

When you hire people from diverse backgrounds and cultures, you’re promoting a sense of inclusion and bringing fresh perspectives to the table.

This allows employees to learn from each other and become more competent and engaged in their work. It also raises productivity levels, as diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams by 35% in terms of performance indicators.

Employee-centric values

The current trend values humanism, which emphasizes employee empowerment and communication with superiors. The main goal is to make employees happy by creating a safe environment and steering clear of micromanaging techniques.

Adding benefits

Benefits such as discounted insurance, physical activity programs, and paid sick leaves are on the rise. They are a basic requirement that ensures better engagement and indicates that you value your employee’s health and well-being.

Promoting work-life balance

Mental health is given more attention nowadays, and people strive to improve their work-life balance to maintain a healthier headspace. Over 65% of employees report being able to create a work-life balance system.

One way to help promote balance is to encourage your employees to use up their vacation days.


Wrapping up

In conclusion, employee engagement has become a critical aspect of organizational success. Improving employee work quality through engagement is an essential investment for any business, as it can have a significant impact on productivity and overall morale.

From recognizing employees to promoting work-life balance, there are many methods to boost engagement and motivate your team.

It is crucial to continuously strive for new and creative techniques to enhance employee engagement and ensure a positive and productive work environment.

By prioritizing employee engagement, businesses can improve employee satisfaction, retention, and ultimately, their bottom line.