50 Activities for Employee Engagement

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Getting employees engaged is not easy to do. Nor is it something you should undertake unless youre in it for the long haul. This collection of skill-building activities will help you understand what employee engagement really means, how it can help your organization and how to create and maintain an engaged workforce. Managers, supervisors and even engaged employees will gain the perspective and insight necessary to make this exciting cultural transition successfully. Are you just beginning your engagement journey? Youll find activities to help you define employee engagement, measure the current level of engagement in your organization and understand critical underlying principles. Are you interested in sustaining and growing employee engagement? Move on to the activities on overcoming obstacles, motivating engaged employees, how world famous leaders lead engagement and other advanced topics. The activities are organized into six, easy-to-reference sections: Understanding employee engagement; Getting started to engage employees; Leading employee engagement; Measuring employee engagement; Creating an engaged workplace; Employee engagement communications. Each of these fun and easy-to-use employee activities focuses on a different aspect of employee engagement and can be completed in 30-45 minutes. Each activity includes the purpose, description, time guidelines, resources, presentation instructions, debriefing guidelines and a handout.

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1-Defining Employee Engagement

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

1

Defining Employee Engagement

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 20 minutes

Purpose

To help participants understand the meaning and concept of employee engagement

Description

A number of descriptions of employee engagement are provided to help participants better understand employee engagement.

Resources

Handout 1.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by emphasizing that defining employee engagement is not easy.

Distribute copies of Handout 1.1 to participants.

Present to participants the 10 Employee Engagement Key Factors in the handout, explaining that learning about each of these factors can help an individual better understand the concept.

Debrief

Ask participants what they believe are the common themes found in each of the 10 key factors. Discuss how these themes would both create and support employee engagement in an organization. Ask participants what their concept and definition of an engaged employee would be and if it is consistent with the definition presented in the activity.

 

2-Getting Engaged

PDF

Handout 2.1

The Engagement Question

Trying to get employees more engaged can be a daunting task. There are so many variables you need to consider.

You need to look holistically at the organization to understand how and where to begin this process—nothing operates in a vacuum, and this is especially true of an organization. Employee engagement is not something that lends itself well to a “grass roots” approach. Rather, employee engagement is more a function of the entire organization, including its systems, policies, rules, processes, norms, expectations, principles, values, and perhaps most importantly its leadership.

Beginning an employee engagement initiative is really like getting engaged to be married in many ways. Both involve a long-term commitment, trust, sharing of values and goals, and compromise.

Like getting engaged to be married, getting engaged with your employees is something that you shouldn’t undertake unless you are totally committed and “in it” for the long-term. Employee engagement isn’t something you should enter into lightly. So before you “pop” the engagement question in your organization, think carefully about what you are asking for and what it means to everyone involved. You may not have to exchange vows with your employees, pledging a lifetime of love and devotion to them, but you do need to be serious about this commitment. If you fail to meet this commitment, you will have a difficult—if not impossible—time ever regaining the trust and respect of your employees. Don’t get engaged unless you are totally committed to the process.

 

3-Engagement Exercises

PDF

Handout 3.1

Engagement Calisthenics

Engagement is like a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly to grow and develop. Engaging your employees frequently will keep them interested and skilled when it comes to being engaged at work. However, like any other skill, if you don’t use it, you lose it. Your muscles and abilities will become atrophied and diminish. There are a number of ways to exercise engagement in your organization. These can be called your daily engagement calisthenics:

1. Allow employees to become more involved in the daily decision-making process at work.

2. Find more opportunities for employees to self-direct themselves.

3. Listen to employees’ ideas and provide ways for the best ones to be implemented.

4. Discuss employees’ goals on a regular basis and make adjustments as needed.

5. Recognize employees’ accomplishments both big and small on a frequent basis.

6. Make management more visible and approachable.

7. Provide employees with the training and tools necessary to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities.

 

4-Engaging Questions

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

4

Engaging Questions

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To introduce a series of questions that could be asked of employees in an organization to gain a better understanding of the current level of employee engagement that currently exists

Description

The activity offers a set of 10 questions that can be presented to employees to gain a better understanding of the level of engagement that currently exists in your organization.

Resources

Handout 4.1

Presentation

Distribute copies of Handout 4.1 to participants or make an overhead transparency of the handout to display.

Explain to participants that:

— There are many engaging questions you might ask to determine the degree or level of engagement that currently exists in your organization. The 10 questions in Handout 4.1 can be asked of your employees to get a better understanding of how engaged they feel working in your organization.

Discuss what the potential benefits might be from these questions and how this information could be used to create a more engaged workplace.

 

5-Mission Engagement

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

5

Mission Engagement

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To explain and emphasize the importance of having a clear plan or mission when beginning a new initiative such as employee engagement in an organization

Description

Participants are provided information on the importance of a mission statement and its use and application in a change or transition process in an organization. A sample employee engagement mission statement is provided.

Resources

Handout 5.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining that creating a mission is often the first positive step toward achieving desired organizational change. To achieve any change, you must first identify exactly what it is you hope to achieve. Without articulating your vision for what you want to have happen in the future, you won’t be able to establish the direction you need to reach your desired goals. Without a clearly defined mission, you will be like a traveler setting off on a journey without a map or even a destination.

 

6-Engaging Principles

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

6

Engaging Principles

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To introduce Seven Principles of Employee Engagement

Description

In this activity, the Seven Principles of Employee Engagement are presented and reviewed. These seven principles provide a framework for better understanding the concept of employee engagement.

Resources

Handout 6.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by introducing the Seven Principles of Engagement as shown in Handout 6.1.

Distribute copies of the handout to participants or make an overhead transparency of the handout to present to participants.

Explain to participants that these seven principles are important to really understanding what the concept of employee engagement is all about. These seven principles represent the basic fundamentals of the concept of employee engagement.

Review the importance of each of these seven principles:

Seven Principles of Employee Engagement

1. Engagement is not a gift, it must be earned. Employee engagement is not something that necessarily will just happen on its own. It must be earned in the sense that an organization must create a working environment supportive of this concept. Employee engagement does require effort and resources to be committed to the process in order for this concept to be successful.

 

7-No Engagement Zones

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

7

No Engagement Zones

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To explain that there may exist certain situations, functions, operations, jobs, etc., where the concepts of employee engagement would not be appropriate or could not be successfully implemented (This activity would be most appropriate for those in a decision-making capacity in an organization who would be responsible for the introduction and design of an employee engagement initiative being introduced.)

Description

The activity is designed to help participants better understand where the concepts of employee engagement should and should not be introduced.

Resources

Handout 7.1

Presentation

Introduce the activity by explaining that as important as it is to understand where engagement opportunities may exist in an organization, it is perhaps even more important to understand where the concepts of engagement should not be applied.

Explain to participants that:

— These could be called no engagement zones.

 

8-Engaging Intangibles

PDF

Part I–Understanding Employee Engagement

8

Engaging Intangibles

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To highlight that all of the gains and benefits of employee engagement are not necessarily tangible

Description

A number of intangible benefits are presented as potential benefits of employee engagement in an organization.

Resources

Handout 8.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by clarifying the difference between intangible benefits and tangible benefits:

— Tangible benefits relating to employee engagement for an organization would describe such things as increased market share, increased sales, greater profitability, higher margins, etc.

— Intangible benefits would be more intrinsic things that don’t necessarily directly contribute to the bottom line financials of an organization, but are still critically important.

Distribute copies of Handout 8.1 to participants or make an overhead transparency of the handout to display.

Explain to participants that examples of intangible benefits of employee engagement might include the items presented in the handout.

 

9-The Engagement Proposal

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

9

The Engagement Proposal

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To help participants understand what questions they need to be prepared to answer when proposing that the concept of employee engagement be introduced into the organization

Description

A list of questions is presented that might be typical of the type of questions that might be asked by the leadership of the organization when considering employee engagement.

Resources

Handout 9.1

Presentation

Explain to participants that:

— Suggesting that employees get more engaged at work is sort of like “popping the question” to a prospective fiancée. There may be many reasons why either the organization or its employees might be reluctant to make such a commitment.

— First of all, in either situation, this proposal requires a total commitment on the part of everyone involved. This isn’t something that can or should be taken casually.

— Everyone needs to understand that employee engagement can become a powerful force in an organization. Once proposed, ending such an arrangement may be like trying to stop an avalanche.

 

10-In Search of Engagement

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

10

In Search of Engagement

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To make participants be more aware of ways in which employee engagement may already exist in their organization

Description

Participants are asked to identify where employee engagement already exists in their organization.

Resources

Handout 10.1

Presentation

Introduce the activity by explaining to participants that the idea of employee engagement may at first seem like a vague concept that may only be theoretically possible in the most ideal circumstances.

Explain to participants that:

— Employee engagement may not be as rare or elusive as one might think. Employee engagement may be all around your organization.

— You may just never have identified it as such or recognized it when you saw it even though it’s all around you.

— Think of employee engagement as being that level of commitment that someone demonstrates each and every day to perform his or her job to the best of his or her ability—you will undoubtedly find many examples of employee engagement already at work.

 

11-Five Steps to Engaging Your Workforce

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

11

Five Steps to

Engaging Your Workforce

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To explain the steps that should be taken to begin to engage your workforce

Description

Five steps to begin engaging employees are presented.

Resources

Handout 11.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining to participants that engaging your workforce can seem like a big challenge, and it is. But there are certain steps that you can take to help you get started and headed in the right direction toward your employee engagement goals.

Distribute a copy of Handout 11.1 to each participant.

Review each of the five steps with participants. The steps as described are simple and can be easily explained as presented.

Debrief

After reviewing these steps, ask participants if there may be other steps that they might feel would also be important in introducing employee engagement. These five steps are not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but rather a beginning point.

 

12-Employee Engagement:It’s Common Sense

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

12

Employee Engagement:

It’s Common Sense

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To emphasize that common sense is part of employee engagement

Description

This activity highlights a number of concepts relating to employee engagement that are really nothing more than everyday common sense.

Resources

Handout 12.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining to participants that when you think about it, employee engagement is really all about common sense:

— You don’t really need to have a textbook or a management consultant come in to tell you that engaging your employees more is a good thing to do. It is really a matter of common sense.

Distribute copies of Handout 12.1 to participants.

Review each of the common sense points included in the handout. Encourage discussion with participants on each of these points.

Ask participants why they believe each item is really just a matter of common sense and a good thing to do under any circumstance.

 

13-The Engagement Process Model

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

13

The Engagement Process Model

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To introduce the idea that following a process helps achieve desired results

Description

A process model based on employee engagement is presented in the activity. In this process model, many of the inputs that go into employee engagement are identified as well as the outputs or results.

Resources

Handout 13.1

Presentation

Explain to participants that a process model can be useful to help illustrate visually how a process works:

— A process model shows both inputs and outputs in any process. An analogy might be a manufacturing process in which inputs are such things as raw materials, labor, energy, etc., to process outputs in the form of finished products.

— An employee engagement process operates in very much the same manner.

— There are certain inputs that go into the employee engagement process that result in certain outputs.

Distribute copies of Handout 13.1 to participants or make an overhead transparency of the handout to display.

 

14-The Engagement Journey

PDF

Part II–Getting Started to Engage Employees

14

The Engagement Journey

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To emphasize the concept that employee engagement is a long-term initiative and that undertaking such an initiative should be viewed as a long journey

Description

Beginning an employee engagement initiative is compared to going on a long journey. Participants are asked what they believe they would need to prepare for such a journey.

Resources

NA

Presentation

Explain to participants that:

It is important to understand that creating a workplace with increased employee engagement is not a goal that is quickly or easily reached.

Rather this is a journey that must be taken one step at a time.

Trying to take shortcuts or skip important steps can prevent you from reaching your ultimate goal.

When embarking on a journey, it typically takes a long time to reach your final destination.

It you are in a big hurry or are looking for immediate paybacks or results, then employee engagement is probably not the right thing to try to introduce into your organization.

 

15-Coaching Engagements

PDF

Part III–Leading Employee Engagement

15

Coaching Engagements

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To emphasize the need for effective leadership in the form of coaching for engaged employees

Description

The concept that engaged employees need effective coaching is presented. Participants are asked to think about and identify the great coaches in their lives.

Resources

Handout 15.1

Presentation

Explain to participants that:

— Engagement isn’t something that just happens on its own without the influence of others.

— Engagement lends itself extremely well to the concepts of coaching. Engagement provides the opportunity for effective coaches to have their greatest impact.

— Great coaches help others help themselves to reach challenging goals. They guide and correct, inspire and motivate.

— Engaged employees still need guidance, support, training, direction, leadership, and perhaps most importantly great coaching.

— Coaching is a special type of leadership that enables employees at all levels of an organization to reach their greatest potential.

 

16-From Boss to Coach

PDF

Part III–Leading Employee Engagement

16

From Boss to Coach

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To explain the changes in the way leaders must lead engaged employees

Description

The concept of moving from a leadership role based on the traditional boss role to that of a coach is introduced in this activity. A model is presented showing this change in leadership style and approach.

Resources

Handouts 16.1 and 16.2

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining to participants that of all the changes that come with engaging employees, the new role of the boss or supervisor is perhaps the greatest challenge.

Explain to participants that:

— The concept of employee engagement doesn’t mean that effective leadership is no longer necessary in an organization.

— Nor does it mean that leadership roles are diminished in any way—in fact these roles become even more important. Nor does it mean that those in leadership positions will be given more to do—they probably already have enough to do.

— What employee engagement means to supervisors or bosses is that their traditional roles and responsibilities may change.

 

17-Motivating Engaged Employees

PDF

Part III–Leading Employee Engagement

17

Motivating Engaged Employees

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 30 minutes

Purpose

To provide a model for motivating engaged employees

Description

A simple model is presented for motivating employees to become more engaged in their jobs. The model is based on the letters in the word MOTIVATED.

Resources

Handout 17.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining that motivating employees to become more engaged in their jobs and in the success of the organization can be a big challenge in itself:

— Motivation can be an elusive concept.

— What motivates one individual may actually be a disincentive to another person.

— The question is How can you find the key to motivating your employees to be more engaged?

— Often following a motivational model for engagement can be helpful.

Distribute copies of Handout 17.1 to participants or make an overhead transparency of the handout to display.

Debrief

Discuss how the concepts presented in this model could actually help motivate employees be more engaged at work. Point out that almost all of the eight concepts in this MOTIVATE model have something to do with communications, emphasizing just how important communications is to motivating employees to become more engaged.

 

18-Engagement Obstacles

PDF

Part III–Leading Employee Engagement

18

Engagement Obstacles

Activity Description

Time Guideline: 45 minutes

Purpose

To identify what obstacles might currently exist in an organization that are actually deterrents to employee engagement

Description

Participants are asked to identify what potential obstacles might exist in their organization that could limit or prevent employee engagement from happening.

Resources

Handout 18.1

Presentation

Begin the activity by explaining that getting employees more involved in their job is a concept that has been around for years and will never go out of vogue or style.

Explain to participants that:

— The principle of asking your employees to be more involved or engaged is really about respect; it is a matter of respecting your employees’ knowledge, ability, integrity, and interest in their jobs.

— If initiatives such as employee engagement fail to get accepted in an organization, it is usually a result of the management systems in place, not the employees themselves. In other words, organizations establish work environments that create obstacles to employees becoming more engaged, not vise versa.

 

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