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There are scores of metrics companies use to determine their success or failure on multiple levels. One set of statistics that rarely makes headlines surrounds the level of employee engagement that a firm maintains. Employee engagement has risen to a place of such import within the business community that the polling boffins at Gallup have an entire team dedicated to the science of employee engagement, headed by Ph.D. Jim Harter.

While employee engagement ideas can be thin on the ground where budgets are tight, research has shown that engaged employees are the key to rising above market challenges. Harter says, “Companies constantly evolve, and they need new ideas all the time. Engaged employees are a lot closer to the best ideas. They’re thinking about the whole company and how they fit into it, and their ideas lead to better decisions.”

Today, the team here at Corporate Essentials is focusing on tips you can use to make your workplace better for your New Jersey staff, with a boatload of employee engagement ideas to help you inspire and involve the workers your company needs for a productive future.

1. Assign company values

The first of our employee engagement ideas is that all businesses should establish company values. These values can be a huge asset to your company, establishing the foundation for everything from customer relations to recruitment materials.

Your company’s core values help position your firm among the competition for potential clients who are evaluating their options, give prospective employees the lay of the land in terms of your business culture and can help guide your teams in decision making on a daily basis.

2. Create team values

As a knock-on from creating company values, engage your teams by having them establish their own set of values. This encourages them to be involved in the success of their own team, as well as the wider organization, by establishing an identity for themselves as a unit.

3. Align your company with a purpose

What does your company do that sets it apart from other firms in the same trade or region? How does your firm promote awareness of its role in that arena?

Employee engagement ideas here can include a range of things, from letting your staff make suggestions for local charities to partner with to having off-site activities that involve your teams in “good deeds” that showcase what your company stands for, and how your firm walks the walk of accountability for that stance.

4. Encourage personal projects

Give your staff the opportunity to study, create or otherwise engage in personal projects – like taking sabbaticals or dedicating training time for skills that aren’t necessarily part of the job. When you allow staff to develop their own skill sets they tend to bring those skills into the work they do for the company.

5. Assign a mentor for every newcomer

The on-boarding process is rich with employee engagement ideas. Giving new staff a more senior or long-serving member of the team to contact with questions is a great opportunity for both the new and existing members of staff.

Even as a short-term activity, an in-house mentorship provides opportunities for existing employees to strut their stuff as paragons of wisdom, and allows new staff to feel more welcome, less awkward and capable of showing off their skills sooner.

6. Create time to bond, especially with new hires

A company where staff know one another outside their general workplace routines is more likely to have employees that work together well and an increased capacity for interdepartmental collaboration. This means simple employee engagement ideas, like having a great office break room, can bolster your company’s overall performance simply by creating opportunities for people to get to know one another.

7. Have themed office days

Themed days at the office offer a multitude of employee engagement opportunities – whether for a good cause, like Jeans for Genes day or something that is just for fun like Tiki Tuesday. Themed office days give everyone a chance to bond, sharing a more casual experience and positive atmosphere.

8. Have team photos

Whether you hire a photo booth, have a photographer with a truckload of props come in or challenge your teams to come up with their own team photos, having a regular opportunity to grab a snapshot of the team for posterity’s sake is a great way to give people a point of pride within their team as well as providing a fun opportunity for teams to compete with one another.

9. Encourage charity and volunteering

Making an impact on causes that are in line with your company’s core values provides a raft of employee engagement ideas. Whether you volunteer as a designated company group or allow your staff to contribute to charities or local organizations close to their own hearts, providing time and acknowledgment of the good work your teams do is a valuable endeavor for everyone.

10. Celebrate achievements

Little things, big things and all those things in between deserve to be shouted about now and again. Carve out time each month when your teams can let loose and celebrate meeting deadlines, crossing milestones and serious accolades from the business community.

11. Celebrate people

Whether you have some sort of acknowledgment of people’s birthdays or provide a rolling “person of the week” type award, acknowledging people for the contribution they make to your firm’s continued success can be a big part of your employee engagement strategy. Everyone loves to feel valued!

12. Celebrate personal wins

Winning a contract, promotion or getting an advanced degree are huge things for individuals, and can provide perks to the company itself, so celebrating these milestones is a great way to align the personal achievements with the overall company goals. This engages everyone in an individual’s success, as well as that of your business.

13. More than monetary rewards

Perks of having a job at a great firm often extends beyond the basic paycheck and good insurance that most successful people receive. Incentive programs, training opportunities, bonuses and perks like phenomenal office coffee are just a few of the ways that employers can invest in their staff to show their appreciation for all the hard work and dedication that goes into making a business thrive.

Being most New Jersey offices are in driving distance of New York City, your office is close to an abundance of conferences, seminars and workshops. You can keep your employees motivated by signing them up for these types of events. By doing so, they’ll realize that you not only support them but that you’re also investing in them and their future with your business.

14. Hold an awards evening

We have mentioned rewarding people and celebrating their successes. So combine the two and hold a regular quarterly awards evening where staff can bask in their accomplishments, receive awards and celebrate their overall successes. Go a step further and encourage employees to nominate others for awards, randomly recognize acts of kindness or outstanding customer service.

15. Get social

Social employee engagement ideas include a wide range of passive and active things, ranging from having social media groups for your staff to join and network through to having product launches, tasting events for break room treats and those standard office parties that seem to exist everywhere.

The difference here is creating events that people want to attend, rather than those employees feel obliged to endure. Consult with an event management staff outside your firm for new ideas on how to make the most of your next staff party.

16. Have more fun

Creating a more open atmosphere for employees is a great start. Augment that atmosphere with actual fun by having game stations, a well-stocked break room and genuinely encouraging people to interact with one another in a fun way. Have silly contests, encourage light-hearted humor and always entertain fresh ideas from employees about how to improve the atmosphere.

17. Start a learning club

Creating a great workplace environment often means you have employees who stick around for a long time and are able to attract new staff with unique talents. Encourage better employee engagement by providing space and time for staff old and new to come together to learn new things.

Whether this means offering company history snippets on Thursday afternoons, hosting a knitting club Tuesday mornings or a more hands-on tutorial scheme should be up to the people who would benefit from it most.

18. Encourage ongoing coaching and training

Many of the best employee engagement ideas stem from the interaction people in your teams naturally have with one another. Wherever possible, instead of bringing in an outside trainer, use an on-site person with expertise to show new staff how to do various tasks.

This provides engagement on multiple levels: showing the long-term staffer you value their contribution and trust them to instruct others; encouraging new staff and older staff to interact together; and facilitating cross-departmental working, just to name a few.

19. Have show and tell

When you were a kid, odds are one of the best things about your school weeks was the day you got to bring a special item to share: if you are honest, not a lot has changed. If you got something new, whether it is a cool app or some amazing new shoes, you want the chance to show it off.

Savvy employers are harnessing that urge and turn it into an engagement opportunity by having show-and-tell events for staff. Whether you pick a theme or have a free for all, sharing time is sure to draw a crowd.

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20. Healthier break room options

Giving people a good reason to get up out of their chairs and take a stroll to the break room has never been easier. People are keen to try new snacks, drinks and other treats, and if you can keep them in the building instead of at the bodega, even better.

Instead of stocking up on sweets and old-hat snack foods, consider fresh, healthy options that are available through your office coffee vendor, this can give you access to seasonal offerings and keep people coming back for more.

21. Have a monthly food day

Whenever there is a big meeting, people are bound to lurk in the corridors wondering if there are any fancy sandwiches or delicious cakes left – so harness that energy and use it to engage people by getting special catering in once a month for teams to try.

You can use this as the backbone of a competition, where the winner chooses next month’s treats, or simply put out whatever is in season and fresh from your local baker that month. Either way, the employee engagement ideas surrounding food are limitless.

22. Create a health and wellness program

Encouraging employees to invest their time in healthier choices is a great way to engage your teams. You show that you care about their wellbeing by giving them the time and resources to adequately investigate their health, which creates an overall culture of caring within the firm.

23. Give your people “inside” information

Keeping employees up to speed on changes in strategy, product development, resource allocations and a host of other things can feel like a chore, but limiting their access to information about what goes on behind the scenes can lead to a feeling of distrust.

Employee engagement ideas for shared information are abundant. Consider having a regular “insiders” meeting where you have Q&A sessions about upcoming changes, or simply keep an updated newsletter handy on your intranet.

24. Build a workplace where communication is free

Talk is cheap, and so it should be. Your staff should never feel that they are unable to communicate with one another, their management or other teams within the organization. Creating an “open” office where communication flows freely in all directions might sound intimidating, but in reality, it is easier than you think.

25. Emphasize work-life balance

Your employees are people first, and the odds are they had other interests, relationships and objectives before they came to work for you. Ensure they are able to pursue those without their work life intruding on their personal time. Employee engagement suffers where people feel that work creeps into the non-work hours of their day.

26. Liven up the office

While not every company has the facility to put in slides between the floors or a massive bank of classic arcade games, most businesses do have space for scaled-down versions of these employee engagement ideas.

Open spaces, shorter cubicle walls, displays of sport or university pride and other personal touches can do wonders for engagement; these give people something to talk about. Similarly, having a few games dotted around the premises offers an excuse to go investigate another area of the building where staff may not otherwise go.

27. Create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and positive energy

Activities that encourage people to smile, say yes, laugh or hold the door open for someone else once in a while are great employee engagement ideas. The truth is, anything that brings an overall air of positivity to your teams is worth doing. Look at your core values, consider the people you have attracted and work out rewards that make them glow.

28. Start an office design committee

The best employee engagement ideas often come from the employees themselves. Give them a say about how the office is set up, how they think spaces could be reshaped or used to better enrich office life.

29. Let your staff determine their dress code

While some businesses really do require particular levels of formal attire, the truth is a lot of us show up in a suit and tie because that is what the guy before us did. Think about it, talk to key staff across your organization and come up with a new, realistic dress code together.

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30. Create a break room where employees actually hang out

The break room should be the heart of your company. A place where everyone can come and find something that refreshes them, something that helps them unwind or get their second wind when they need it most.

So be sure you are stocking your break room with the best products possible, and be sure those products meet the needs of your teams so they are interested in stopping by to get their third latte on a Tuesday morning instead of stopping at a nearby store.

31. Survey employees for honest feedback

Employee engagement ideas surrounding feedback can be intimidating but have no fear. The idea is to give staff an opportunity to tell you what they think about any given area at any given time; the most important part of that process is reviewing that feedback and acting on it in a manner that addresses concerns.

32. Find your team members’ passions

Beards? Craft beers? Coffee roasting? Canning? Chihuahuas in tiaras? It is truly impossible to say without asking, so ask! The raft of employee engagement ideas that becomes possible once you know what your employees are really into is amazing.

33. Boost mental and physical wellbeing

This is another area where engaging your employees is more about showing that you truly value them as people than anything else. Offer FitBits, breathing exercise tutorials, have a calm room or daily yoga. The idea is that by promoting their awareness of their own wellbeing, you are showcasing the firm’s concern for them.

34. Give responsibility, not just tasks

Engaging staff by giving them something to do is a great idea; just be sure that you empower your people with the authority they need to execute the plans they have created.

35. Show how employees enhance the company’s vision

Your colleagues came to work at your firm for a reason, so take the opportunity to show them how their unique skills fit with the overall company vision on a regular basis.

36. Send out some Monday motivations

Quotes, songs, dancing cat videos…you name it, employee engagement ideas can start with just a little motivation and bloom into wider “entertainment” programming with ease.

37. Music in the mix

An in-house Pandora or Spotify can be an excellent employee engagement tool. Use it to encourage communication between teams, set the mood for big events or even foster a little friendly competition.

38. Share meeting leadership

If one team just won a huge contract or completed a project, let them take the helm for the weekly update meeting. This allows you to observe how others interact together but also provides a cool opportunity for different staff members to showcase their skills and achievements.

39. Cancel internal emails

Studies show that successful people do their immediate “to do” list every day prior to opening their email. Go a step further and cut off your internal email server for a whole day every month to encourage people to walk upstairs and talk to the guy in accounts, ask the front desk for more copy paper in person. More might get done, and people will definitely know one another better.

40. Throw limits (and agendas) away

Employee engagement ideas are sometimes best free-flowing. When you are brainstorming for solutions or hosting open meetings, run them off the top of your head and see where the conversation takes you all.

41. Give employees ownership of events

Employees who plan events are more invested in their success, so start with internal social events and you may find that some of your staff have an aptitude for event planning that is worth showcasing externally.

42. Know their schedules

Instead of setting arbitrary meetings that fit your schedule, learn when it is best to meet with others, and understand their schedules as much as possible. Employee engagement ideas are easier to form when you know the best times to engage your employees, after all.

43. Distractions inspire

Have a “distraction jar” or another collection that employees can use to get lost in their thoughts. A bit of distraction now and again can provide the spark required to get creative solutions out of dismal situations.

44. Encourage cross-departmental working

Having staff work with other teams helps them understand the impact their team has on that team’s function, but also gives them an appreciation for the skills and contributions coworkers they are less familiar with make.

Over the long term, your employee engagement ideas will evolve and your staff will become more involved with the firm. The beauty of this arrangement is that the longer your firm retains staff, the more likely they are to take charge of finding new engagement activities for the on-boarding process, training opportunities and bigger and better parties and awards for their colleagues.

If you’re interested in improving your office culture and keeping your employees happy and productive, our team at Corporate Essentials knows just the tools to do the trick. With our tips, you can improve your New Jersey breakroom and your corporate culture at the same time. As you’ve just learned, good office culture leads to a great work environment. You can strengthen your office culture by offering your employees everything they need within the office. What would make your employees happier than being able to enjoy locally sourced coffee and healthy snacks in your New Jersey office? We can help make your breakroom a one-stop shop for all of your employees’ needs.

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Judson Kleinman

As the founder and CEO of Corporate Essentials, Judson set out with every intention of bringing a new meaning to the words "office culture". As leaders in the industry, his company constantly sets the bar by investing in, and improving their product offerings, technology, people and training. 20 years and 1500 clients later, Judson can proudly say that Corporate Essentials continues to positively fuel culture and allow over 150,000 employees to work happy.