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Published on September 27, 2019

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Teamwork

10 Employee Engagement Ideas to Improve Teamwork

The expectations of jobs have shifted towards a more personal approach. In the past, high pay and health benefits were the motivating factors for workers –as long as they were paid well, it didn’t matter what kind of job they were doing. However, the needs of employees have changed, and workers are now looking at engagement and fulfillment as significant factors when considering job opportunities.

So, what is engagement? Simply put, engagement in the workplace comes from having the right conditions that allow employees to maximize their potential.

The difference between an engaged employee and an unengaged one is quite visible. An unengaged employee is not invested in the company; they do the bare minimum and work just enough to get paid. However, an engaged employee goes above and beyond for the company because they are invested. They see potential in their work and the impact it can have on the company. In other words, an engaged employee sees value in the company and is willing to invest their effort and time beyond what is expected of them.

Having engaged employees could mean the difference between being an average company and an exceptional company. According to Forbes, companies with high engagement outperform those without by 202%.[1] Knowing this, it’s no wonder why employers have suddenly started paying attention to employee engagement.

Like diversity, engagement can be challenging to include in the workplace, despite the consensus agreeing on its benefits. For those looking to increase engagement in the workplace, consider these 10 ideas:

1. Set Expectations and Provide Orientation for New Hires

A study done by Jobvite stated that 33 percent of new employees quit in the first 90 days of working.[2] Of those employees, 43 percent left because the role wasn’t what they expected or led to believe. Having an engaged workforce requires actual workers; and if your new hires keep leaving, you won’t have a workforce.

Here is how Alden Tseng from Wayfindr, a software company focused on streamlining the job application process, describes this issue in his latest article on how to remedy it:[3]

“Sometimes, job descriptions fail to convey key information or are unable to describe the full scope of certain job openings. Before posting a job listing, make sure you are describing the position in detail. Include essential information like what an average day looks like, key skills that are required, and what you expect your employees to learn while on the job. Offer a new hire orientation that enables individuals to acclimate to the company culture and their peers.”

It is vital to ensure that an employee’s first impression of the company is favorable. A study done by the Wynhurst Group reported that employees were 58 percent more likely to be with an organization after three years if there were on-boarding (orientation) programs.[4]

2. Constantly Communicate with Employees

Feedback is crucial in encouraging worker engagement. Employees want their opinions to be heard, especially when it is directly impacting how they work. Opening channels for employees to provide feedback creates chances for management to re-evaluate their decisions and allows them to improve the workplace.

However, it isn’t just about receiving feedback from employees. Feedback goes both ways, and it is important for managers to provide feedback to employees.15Five’s research into employee engagement yielded these staggering statistics:[5]

  • 98% of employees who received little to no feedback are disengaged
  • Employees who received feedback on their weaknesses were 20x more likely to be engaged
  • Employees who received feedback on their strengths were 30x more likely to be engaged

Feedback between the two parties is a sign that each party is invested in the other’s success. For employees, giving and receiving feedback means they are part of the team –not just another invisible worker that has no voice in the company. For employers, it shows that employees are invested in the company’s wellbeing and want to share their opinions on how to better the workplace.

The other part is of course the type of language you use with your employees. The funny part is that the way you communicate with your customers often translates into how you communicate with your employees.

Jeremy Boudinet, a Marketing Manager at Nextiva, a VOIP phone system, CRM, chat and all inclusive communication suite for businesses puts it the following way:

“We see a TON of overlap in how a company communicates with its’ employees and how it communicates with their team. The language that you use, the frequency of communication, the type of communication – a ton similarities here. I’ll say even more – an influx of new angry customers usually correlate with employees leaving from a company.”

3. Highlight Employee Achievements

Workers now want to work for a place where they matter. Research done by Penna concluded that 43% of workers cited having an opportunity to contribute to the success of the company created a positive work environment.[6]

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Employees want to know their work is impactful to the company. One of the factors causing disengagement comes from when a worker feels like their work is meaningless. They may see their job as more of a chore than a chance to improve the company. Employee recognition can be anything from a simple thank you letter to a feature on the company website.

Adam Legas, founder of Nanohydr8, a fitness drinks company, spends 1-2 hours per week making sure his employees are properly recognized, here is how he describes it:

“Recognizing an employee’s achievements shows them that their work is crucial towards company success –it gives their work meaning.”

4. Incorporate On the Job Training

While the requirements of a job may have many similarities, each company has its own procedure and expectations. New employees need to be trained in order to perform the functions of their jobs correctly and in a way that is in line with the company. Without training, it would be impossible for new hires to produce quality work.

A recent survey found that 40 percent of new hires that receive poor job training leave within the first year.[7] It would be counter-productive to replace an employee if all it takes to help them succeed is training. Hiring a replacement is an expensive and time-consuming process –one that could be avoided by merely training the workers at hand.

5. Provide Support for Out of Office Learning

With the rise of automation, the future of the workforce depends on up-skilling and adapting to technology. A report done by McKinsey predicted that automation could destroy up to 73 million jobs in the United States by 2030.[8] Workers will need new skills and training to be successful in a post-automation world.

Investing in your employees’ learning and up-skilling is essential to keeping engagement up. By supporting their learning initiatives outside of work, it shows them that the company is actively supporting their individual growth.

As an employer, providing learning opportunities for workers also increases brand awareness and favorability among job-seekers. With 42 percent of millennials citing learning and development opportunities as a deciding factor when choosing jobs,[9] employers that encourage learning will have bigger talent pools to choose from.

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Employees want to work for companies that support their learning and development. It’s a widely held misconception that investment in employee training is riskier than it once was. In fact, since the 1980s, median job tenure has increased (from 3.5 to 4.6 years) and we are spending more time at work each year (1,638 to 1,811 hours per year).[10]

As labor markets tighten and the half-life of skills shrinks, more employer-funded training is a win-win. Employers increase their appeal to new employees, as well as the engagement and productivity of current staff, and individuals enhance their skills, value and future employability.

6. Be Open-Minded with Experimentation

Experimentation allows employees to flex their creative muscles and offers them an opportunity to try something new. Experimentation doesn’t always end in success, but it is an opportunity to consider alternatives and new forms of thinking.

Experimentation builds trust between employers and employees by showing employees it’s okay to fail. Employees are more willing to apply new ideas and try new things if they know the company is supporting them –opening the opportunity for innovation.

7. Venture Out of the Office

Workplace engagement, at its core, is about humanizing the workplace. Aside from the brief time during interviews and reviews, management rarely has time to get to know their workers. The workplace environment leaves very little time and room for employees and employers to form relationships. Increasing engagement at work may require an approach that doesn’t include the workplace at all –a company trip.

Company trips are the perfect medium where management and employees can learn more about each other. The more people know each other, the more invested they will be in each other’s success. For employees, this is an opportunity to see managers in a different light –as humans.

Furthermore, company trips reward employees for their service and increase morale. It shows employees that their contributions do matter, resulting in higher engagement.

8. Offer Flexible Working Conditions

Working remotely has long been attached to the stigma of a lazy, unmotivated worker. However, this idea couldn’t be further from the truth. Remote workers carry the same responsibilities on-site workers do.

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Working at a desk in an office every day isn’t ideal for productivity. Different people prefer different environments, and remote work fills that need. A study done by Stanford concluded that remote workers were 13.5 percent more productive than their peers working in an office and 50 percent more satisfied with their job.[11]

9. Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Health is wealth, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the workplace. An engaged workforce must be healthy, both mentally and physically. It is important to encourage a healthier lifestyle because healthy workers are capable workers.

A survey done by Virgin Pulse found that 85% of companies say wellness programs support engagement.[12] Unhealthy factors such as the lack of sleep, poor diet, and stress all play a role in determining how successful a worker is in the workplace.

Healthy initiatives can range from providing healthy snacks to providing stress management classes. It is essential to keep these initiatives because high stress is one of the most significant factors in causing disengagement. Promoting healthy initiatives prevents workers from being overworked and overstressed at work, creating a more engaged workforce.

10. Make a Positive Impact

Employees want companies that are positively impacting the world. Volunteer options to better the community not only builds brand awareness but also increases engagement and worker empowerment. Working together as a team to bring good into the world can be a valuable team-building exercise and creates an atmosphere of positivity.

Volunteer initiatives and philanthropic work enable workers to get involved with the community. It makes them feel good knowing that their company is standing for something positive. A recent report stated that participation in corporate social responsibility initiatives increased productivity in the workplace by 13 percent.[13] In the same report, the authors also concluded that engaging in volunteer work reduces employee turnover rates by 50 percent.

Final Thoughts

Employee engagement is a glimpse into a more human side of the workplace. In the past, we saw employees just as workers and companies as faceless entities –and it worked for a long time. However, the new generation of workers and the future of the workplace is more human than that –they want to change the world.

Engaged employees happily go to work knowing they’re positively impacting the world. It isn’t about the money –it is about being human and providing a place where workers can grow and learn.

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More About Team Management

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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Dmitry Dragilev

Single-handedly grew a startup from zero to 40 million page views, Dmitry is a role model for aspiring entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

How to Become Smarter: 21 Things You Can Do Daily

How to Become Smarter: 21 Things You Can Do Daily

Although many people believe intelligence is limited to those with high I.Q.s, there are a number of potential methods to boost one’s cognitive abilities and become more effective at various professional and personal pursuits.

With enough motivation and determination, anyone can expand their mental capabilities and become smarter. Integrating new habits into your regular routine and providing proper stimulation can sharpen your intellect quickly and leave you inspired to take on new challenges each day.

So how to become smarter?

Brain health is an important key in complete physical health. The list below includes the best brain-engaging activities in daily life.

Inviting Novelty

To create new neural pathways and strengthen the brain, it’s critical for people to continually incorporate new experiences and information into their lives. At first, these moments might feel useless, but eventually, you will find yourself looking forward to quiet moments alone.

1. Visit New Places

Whether this means studying in a new coffee shop, taking a different route to work, or traveling to a different country, displacement is good for the brain. This might be difficult to recognize in the moment since it usually feels rather awkward – at least initially. At the coffee shop, you can’t order the “usual.” You have to study a new menu, pick something you have never tried before, and make a decision.

While this seems simple, people enjoy the comfort of habit. We like to know what to expect at all times. When you travel to a new country, the language is strange, the customs are unfamiliar, and the culture presents a strange new rhythm of life. Adjusting to these new elements forces the brain to tackle new, unexpected challenges.

Learning how to communicate through a language barrier forces the brain to develop creative ways to express needs and emotions. Listening to new music, trying new foods, and navigating foreign streets all work to challenge your brain’s capacity to adapt to new situations.

2. Continue Your Education

Adult education is one of the best investments of time, money, and energy you can make. While education is valuable throughout childhood and adolescence, adults often underestimate their ability to learn new concepts and skills.

Challenge yourself to take a class, academic or creative. Voluntarily choosing to continue education provides a perfect opportunity for your brain to create new connections and build higher intelligence.

Also check out these 15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain.

3. Read and Watch the News

This is one activity that maintains the appearance of habit while nurturing healthy brain waves. Setting aside half an hour every morning or evening to read a newspaper or watch the news will help your brain stay active.

Digesting new information is a good daily habit. The news introduces interesting topics to consider, and will leave your brain churning with new information.

4. Read

Reading is the most basic way to facilitate brain activity, but it often presents some of the most diverse opportunities for stretching brain capacity.

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Reading provides practical assistance by introducing new vocabulary, presenting examples of proper grammar usage, and showing the elegance of a well-written sentence. However, this is only half of the magic of reading.

Whether you choose fiction, non-fiction, historical literature, or poetry, reading offers an opportunity for the reader to make big-picture connections between the literature and real life. In this way, reading is an alternative way to make your brain travel to a new place.

As your imagination works to create tangible people, places, and experiences from the words on the page, your brain is rewiring to understand all the new information.

Here’re some great books to read:

5. Approach Work in New Ways

The workplace is a canvas for new experiences. Regardless of what type of job you might hold, everyone is at one time or another presented with opportunities to think outside the box, problem solve in a creative way, and contribute fresh ideas to the team.

Instead of stressing over each new problem, it’s important to relax and starting imagining alternatives for reaching an end goal.


Challenging Yourself

Like a weightlifter who develops muscles, one must exercise the brain on a daily basis, pushing it just beyond its current capabilities. As Albert Einstein once said,

“One should not pursue goals that are easily achieved. One must develop an instinct for what one can just barely achieve through one’s greatest efforts.”

This quote encapsulates what I believe about the brain. With enough focus and stretching, the brain can truly surprise people.

Underestimating yourself holds you back from success. When people begin believing in their abilities, they often go beyond what they thought was possible.

6. Do Brain Training

Organizations like Lumosity offer fantastic daily brain training. With puzzles and games designed to increase neuroplasticity, Lumosity was created to challenge the brain to make new connections.

A group of neuroscientists at University of California Berkeley developed this program to provide stimuli for the brain to push it to adapt and re-train itself in uncharted territory. Success stories abound concerning the results of this public experiment.

You can also try these 11 Brain Training Apps to Train Your Mind and Improve Memory.

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7. Ask 5 Whys When Encountering Problems

One of the most standard problem solving solutions, the 5 whys still provide a solid start to uncovering the root of a problem.

Asking a question gets the brain working to find an answer. Instead of worrying about the problem, always start by asking why.

Learn more about this problem solving framework here: How to Solve Any Problem Efficiently with 5 Whys (Step-By-Step Guide)

8. Eschew Technology to Keep the Brain in Shape

Technology does wonders for the modern world, but in some ways, technological dependence stunts the brain’s capacity for problem solving, adapting to new environments, and being a reliable resource for practical things like simple mathematics and navigation.

Try going on a trip without a GPS. Work a few algebra problems without a calculator. Make your brain work for you; you’ll see the results.

9. Foster Creativity

Finger-painting in preschool was not only a fun activity; it helped open up the mind to new possibilities and ways of solving problems. An artistic mindset creates new opportunities to find new solutions, fresh inspiration, and peaceful confidence.

The blend of these elements in both personal and professional environments allows ordinary people to shine by becoming an innovative thinker and inventive leader. Find ways to incorporate creativity into the dull grind of daily tasks.

Take a look at these 30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity.

10. Draw

You don’t have to be an artist to appreciate the benefits of drawing, which cultivates brain activity in a unique way. In addition to nurturing basic hand-eye coordination, it sends synapses to neurotransmitters to help more permanently and vividly store your memories.

From doodles on a piece of scrap paper to charcoal portraits, drawing is a healthy brain activity for everyone.

11. Paint

Painting is an extension of drawing. It feeds the same areas of the brain; but unlike drawing, painting often introduces new and unfamiliar textures and colors to stimulate the brain.

Painters often have a keen sense of awareness towards their surroundings. Engaging in painting encourages people to notice minute details of the world around them. Focusing the brain in this manner brings a heightened state of alertness.

12. Play an Instrument

Learning to play an instrument also has outstanding benefits for the brain. Hand-eye coordination, memory, concentration, and mathematic skills all improve through playing an instrument. While some are more challenging to learn than others, any instrument facilitates increased and improved cognitive functioning.

From training your fingers to master complex musical passages on the piano to counting the beats in a musical measure, instruments force various regions of the brain to work together to create music.

13. Write

Like reading, writing encourages vocabulary growth, grammar skills, and use of proper syntax. Writing helps the brain store information more effectively and fosters better memory skills. Studies show that students who regularly take handwritten notes during college classes consistently score better on tests.[1]

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Writing forces a person to pay attention to their memories, experiences, and internal dialogues – a combination that increases brain function altogether.

Learn more about the benefits of writing: 5 Benefits of Writing: Why You Should Write Every Day

14. Role-Play

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and your brain starts to rewire to help you think like a different person.

For those struggling to form creative ideas, role-playing can help the wheels start turning in the brain to help develop unique solutions for difficult problems.


Working with Others

Although logical intelligence is important, emotional intelligence plays an equally vital part in overall success. Interacting with others helps people expand beyond their own limited thinking, gain new ideas, and see things from a different perspective.

People are challenging. Smart people often enjoy isolation because it protects them from being critical of others. However, this discomfort is necessary for truly smart people because it pushes them outside their bubble.

When you start to believe you have all the right answers, start collaborating with others to expand perspective.

15. Teach and Share Information with Others

Whether this is achieved virtually or face-to-face, pursue colleagues and peers to share experience and wisdom. Fresh faces and new ideas spur inspiration and create an amplified learning environment for the brain.

By creating a network for sharing ideas, your brain starts developing a new network for formulating and executing innovative concepts.

16. Talk to Interesting People

No two people share the same life experiences. Everyone interprets information uniquely, stores memories differently, and digests daily life with their own intellectual flare. This makes collaboration a necessity for brain health.

Although we are all inclined to think our method is the best approach, gaining perspective from another person helps our brain consider new solutions and new techniques for both personal and professional issues.

Whether the conversation is centered on religion, finances, politics, or diet trends, people should practice being a good listener. Silencing your own thoughts while the other person speaks is often challenging, but the brain needs discipline to stay sharp.

17. Work in a Team Environment

Collaborative environments are essential for enhancing brain activity. Some people who enjoy working independently dread the moment when they are forced to participate in a team-focused workplace. However, these independent individuals are highly intelligent and can benefit the most from a little teamwork.

Author Steve Johnson’s book, Where Good Ideas Come From, focuses on the benefits of collaborating with peers and coworkers to develop original ideas and effective strategies for their execution. The modern workplace continues to shift towards this team-oriented approach.

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Cultivating Physical Health

The body feeds the brain, and keeping oneself in top physical condition is crucial to adequate fueling and operation of the brain. Lack of motivation, mental fatigue, and absence of inspiration are typically connected to poor exercise, diet, and focus.

18. Exercise

Studies constantly show people who exercise regularly have higher I.Q. scores.[2] In addition to maintaining a strong body, people who exercise regularly actually stimulate brain cell growth. A process called neurogenesis occurs during rigorous exercise, which increases the production of neurotransmitters. With side effects like increased dopamine, active people enjoy less stress, better concentration, and more energy.

Dr. Michael Nilsson of Sahlgrenska Academy and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden conducted extensive research on the topic.[3] “Being fit means that you also have a good heart and lung capacity and that your brain gets plenty of oxygen,” the doctor said. His research focused on over a million Swedish military men, and Dr. Nilsson found a direct correlation between physical fitness and high scores on I.Q. tests.

19. Pursue Athletics

Multiple studies have shown active children typically do better in school and have a better chance of continuing their education after high school graduation. Although athletic pursuits can feel grueling at the time, the overall benefits of intense physical activity are wise for your future.

Whether it’s finding one thing you are good at, like basketball, running, or lifting weights, or trying something new every day, maintaining an athletic routine is important for optimal brain health.

20. Meditate

Controlling and calming the brain is as powerful as enhancing activity through instruments and puzzles. Doctors have been studying the effects of mediation on the brain for several years, and the results are impressive.

In one famous study, Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin collaborated with the Dalai Lama to study what happens to the brain during meditation.[4]

Transcendental Meditation yields impressive results for the brain. People who struggle with fear, anxiety, depression, and other mental ailments should experiment with meditation to calm themselves and develop a stronger sense of focus.

Here’s a The 5-minute Guide to Meditation: Anywhere, Anytime to help you start meditating.

21. Maintain a Nutritious Diet

Children and adults interested in boosting brain activity should begin by transforming their diet. Research from the University of Bristol in England points to a strong connection between unhealthy diet and low I.Q. scores in children.[5] To begin reversing unhealthy tendencies, try cutting out excess fat, sugar, and fast foods, and start adding more vegetables, fruit, and lean meats. These 12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health are good for you too.

There are also a number of unusual drinks proven to help brain function. Matcha green tea, raw cacao hot chocolate, and ginkgo biloba tea all show benefits for the brain. Some scientist claim ginkgo biloba helps pump more blood to the brain, improving circulation.

The Bottom Line

Creating daily routines to promote healthy brain activity doesn’t require the advice of a neuroscientist. While plenty of studies provide convincing evidence, increasing brain activity can be accomplished with a few basic steps.

Be intentional about your time and energy to start working towards a smarter and more fulfilling life.

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