17 Fun Employee Engagement Activities & Ideas for 2022

Home » Resources » Employee Engagement ActivitiesUpdated: September 27, 2022

You discovered our list of fun employee engagement activities.

Employee engagement activities are exercises that increase employee motivation and positive feelings about the work environment. For example, animal therapy, sunny day funds, and departmental swaps. The purpose of these ideas is to vary the work routine and make employees interested in and passionate about work. These activities are also known as “team engagement activities”, “staff engagement activities” and “employee engagement exercises.”

These activities align with employee engagement best practices and workforce engagement strategies, and are similar to virtual engagement ideas and tips for employee motivation.

This post includes:

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Here is the list!

List of employee engagement activities

From door prizes to mental health fairs to departmental exchange programs, here is a list of ideas to engage the workforce that will make your crew excited for Monday mornings.

1. Museum of failures

The museum of failures is a fun way to encourage a growth mindset and teach staff to laugh off shortcomings.

To set up this activity, make a bulletin board or display in a wing of your office, or launch an online gallery on a platform such as Slack, social media, Imgur, or the iCloud. If employees turn on notifications for these apps, then colleagues can react over new additions in real time.

Colleagues can share pictures and anecdotes about embarrassing moments such as accidentally melting the spatula in the oven, sending a text message to a wrong number, or spilling coffee. Teammates can also describe work-related errors, and receive comfort from colleagues or prevent coworkers from making the same mistake. Bosses and managers can also contribute to show that leadership has a human side and is not immune from error. The museum of failures builds camaraderie among teammates and promotes a culture of humor and growth.

2. Community mood ring

Mood rings supposedly change colors to broadcast the wearer’s emotions. In reality, the rings react to body heat, not feelings. Yet being able to guess a colleague’s state of mind would be useful, especially when you need help, or hope to sell a couple of boxes of your kid’s Girl Scout Cookies.

To do this exercise, introduce a community mood ring policy that encourages check-ins with teammates. You can hand out flip books or signs with basic emotions like focused, stressed, happy, lonely, confused, or excited. Employees can display their current mood to let coworkers know to stay away or stop by for a chat.

For virtual offices, you can label an online chat group or Slack channel “mood ring,” and invite employees to drop in emojis or GIFS that describe their present state of mind. Throughout the week, you can post check-ins to encourage teammates to share.

This activity can be a great way to spark conversations and incite connections. Folks may not want to admit to having a bad day, however a community mood ring challenge normalizes asking for help and being honest about feelings.

Check out this list of check-in questions for employees.

3. Office animal therapy

Most folks love pets. Midday puppy and kitten cuddle sessions can be an excellent motivator to drum up excitement and boost your employees’ moods. Simply ask staff to bring cute pets to the office, or partner with a local animal group and turn the afternoon into a charity event.

Remote offices do not have to miss out on the fun. You and your virtual team can invite pets for a webcam cameo as one of your remote employee engagement activities. If your company’s cats are camera shy or just plain uncooperative, then get your fuzzy buddy fix by watching an animal livestream.

For more fun with animals, check out this list of office pets.

4. Employee Engagement door prizes

If you ever found yourself wishing for a reward just for showing up to work, then you will love this activity. Door prizes are awards won for attending an event. Typically, every guest receives a ticket upon entry, and organizers pull a random winner during the course of the event.

On any given day, you can use this exercise to award punctual employees. To gain a chance at the raffle, employees must arrive to work on-time. You can either station coworkers to hand out tickets at every building entry, or check the electronic time clock records. This contest incentivizes employees to be prompt because staff will never know what day you decide to hand out prizes.

Check out more workplace competition ideas.

5. Knowledge swaps

Your employees are a treasure trove of knowledge, from industry best practices to random  trivia. Coworkers can learn a lot from each other, and you can encourage the lessons by planning a knowledge swap.

Here are different ways to structure this activity:

  • Turn a lunch and learn into a speed dating event where employees move between coworkers and learn a new subject or skill at each station
  • Start a classifieds board where teammates can advertise and solicit lessons on different topics, such as guitar playing, coding, or real estate advice
  • Assign a different colleague to teach a short lesson every week
  • Feature your coworker’s knowledge in a weekly internal email
  • Install a “fact of the day” board or online message board and assign a random team member to supply the educational tidbit

Or, you can design your own version of the exercise. The important part is to encourage teammates to see each other as resources, so they are more willing to ask each other for help.

6. War of the jars

War of the jars is part charity, part team bonding idea. This activity takes inspiration from the creative cafe tip jars that entice more folks to tip by using dollars as votes. The jar has two sides. On each side, write the names of a pop culture rivalry. Examples may include Coke vs Pepsi, NSYNC vs the Backstreet Boys, or dinosaurs vs unicorns. You can set up the jars on your reception desk, human resources office, or a high-traffic area of the building. Or, you could make an online tip jar by following this YouTube tutorial.

Employees will vote for their preference by sticking dollar bills in the corresponding  jar. At the end of the week, count the money in both jars, announce the winner, and donate all proceeds to a chosen charity.

For question inspiration, check out this list of This or That prompts.

7. Employee Engagement sunny day fund

Many companies have rainy day funds to offset times of hardship, such as budget tightenings, furloughs, or personal tragedies. Having a safety net for the bad times is good, however squirreling away money to celebrate the good times is also highly beneficial. You can start a sunny day fund to finance festivities like birthdays, graduations, promotions, and project completions. Perhaps you want to randomly treat your staff to ice cream during the first 60 degree day of the year, or maybe you all want to try ax-throwing together. Sunny day funds reinforce wins and general positivity, and teach teams to celebrate together.

8. Mental health fairs

Workplaces have championed physical health initiatives for decades, yet have only recently caught on to the importance of mental health. You can promote psychological wellbeing within your office by hosting a mental health fair. Mental health fairs are events that teach proper emotional hygiene practices and distribute self-care goodies. These special days are one of the best employee engagement activities related to health.

Mental health fair ideas:

  • Group meditation sessions
  • Team building workouts
  • Massages and aromatherapy
  • Adult coloring book station
  • Emotional support animal visits
  • Demolition rooms, where employees can destress by smashing plates or banging rocks with a sledgehammer
  • Buffet of brain-boosting nutrition-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, fish, and nuts
  • Informational session about the company health plan’s mental health support options
  • Confessional-style short therapist consults
  • Testimonials from mental health-themed motivational speakers and advocates
  • Lecture, Q&A session, or learning session with a psychologist
  • Tips on managing workplace stress
  • Self-care kits full of items, like stress balls, tea, lavender oil or candles, sleep masks, fuzzy socks, tissues, fidget rings, and books

While anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues, you can also include information about other conditions, such as personality disorders, delusional disorders, and obsessive compulsive disorders.

An effective mental health fair is fun and amusing yet provides valuable insight and information. These fairs can be highly useful for destigmatizing mental health and encouraging employees to seek help when needed.

Here are more employee wellness ideas.

9. Re-orientations for Employee Engagement

Human resource professionals often tout the importance of onboarding new hires, yet neglect to mention or consider that a company might undergo dramatic changes throughout the course of an employee’s career. Organizational shifts often involve just as much learning as new jobs yet are rarely given the same level of focus and time as onboardings.

You can host re-orientations that treat existing employees as fresh, incoming classes. These events provide a clean slate, so colleagues can approach work from a new perspective.

Re-orientation ideas:

  • Send out biographies of all team members, so everyone in the company can learn about colleagues’ skills and accomplishments
  • Host informational sessions with interactive elements, such as question and answer sections
  • Plan fun and interactive team building activities and games
  • Provide complimentary meals and snacks
  • Organize breakout meetings with different departments
  • Enable conversations between employees and the C-suite
  • Highlight changes in the company through a fun approach, like a quiz or scavenger hunt.
  • Schedule entertainment and opportunities to unwind
  • Invite colleagues to share short video clips explaining why they choose the company or why they choose to remain at the company, and edit the footage into a montage to show at the end of the week

Re-orientations ensure that all employees are on the same page and refocus attention and approaches to align with a company’s new priorities and objectives.

For tips, check out these books on change management and books on onboarding.

10. C-suite meet and greets

Meeting with executives in small groups or one-on-one can help employees feel valued and heard. The activity can also benefit higher management, as the interactions provide insight into the experiences of the average worker. Not to mention, spending time together fosters a sense of connection that makes the workplace more pleasant for both parties.

Executives and employees can mingle in a variety of arrangements:

  • Small group lunches
  • Video game playing sessions
  • Virtual coffee breaks
  • Town halls or focus groups
  • Informal interviews where parties answer icebreaker questions
  • Strolls around the office or the block
  • Open office hours

Upper management can also make a point to meet with fresh hires during the first couple weeks of employment to offer a warm welcome and make the new teammate feel valued.

Feel free to check out executive team building ideas too.

11. Community tie-ins

Though creating a sense of organizational community is important, linking the workplace to the wider community can also be beneficial. Social responsibility plays an increasingly larger role in the corporate landscape. Plus, building rapport with the surrounding community can help workers understand and connect more deeply with clients.

A few ways to launch community tie-ins include:

  • Embrace the local sports teams by allowing employees to dress in team colors on playoff days, offering tickets to games and matches, and treating staff to goodies like donuts or bagels to celebrate big wins.
  • Volunteer for a community service project
  • Sponsor a local organization such as a school dance team or an a grocery coop
  • Invite local restaurants to provide samples, either on a rotating basis or all at once, food-fair style
  • Visit with local representatives and city celebrities
  • Launch an employee local photo contest
  • Design or sign up for a scavenger hunt around town
  • Celebrate citywide events by buying a booth, or attending as a group. You could partner with the hosting organization and offer employees discounted admission for the event or perks like access to VIP areas

These tie-ins are a great way to bolster a sense of community inside and outside of the company, and tend to be popular employee engagement activities.

Remote teams can participate too. Virtual offices are part of one of the biggest communities of all, the world wide web. You and your online team can join in virtual events and online culture by signing up for webinars, responding to social media challenges, or visiting interactive websites, like forums.

12. Customizable onboarding programs

Every new hire is distinct and exceptional, and you should honor that uniqueness by providing a customizable onboarding experience. No two employees are clones, which means that no two workers will benefit from or experience the same program equally. Instead of subjecting every newcomer to a uniform onboarding process, offer options, so the employee can design their own agenda.

Perhaps a more extroverted new hire wants to meet and socialize with as many coworkers as possible, while an introvert prefers to meet colleagues slowly, one by one. One worker might opt for some extra skills training, while another prefers to brush up on company logistics and policies.

Onboarding sets the tone for the employee’s experience, and a customizable onboarding program lays the groundwork for a collaborative and respectful journey.

13. Perk petitions

There are limitless ways to engage employees and offer work perks, and companies often have more ideas than ways to implement those ideas. Usually, leaders decide which courses of action best suit and motivate the organization’s employees, yet that choice often comes down to an educated guess.

You can put the power of picking perks into the hands of your people by launching a petition system. On a web forum or a bulletin board, employees can propose improvements for the workplace. Examples might include a pizza vending machine, a daycare program, or an updated work from home policy. Other employees can vote on the ideas. If a proposal gets enough support, then management can fund the project. Or, employees can find like-minded colleagues to crowdsource a new addition, such as an espresso machine for the breakroom.

Staff members can also propose low-cost employee engagement activities. For instance, teammates may coordinate a company spirit week or challenge colleagues to give out three compliments.

Here is a guide to worker perks and benefits.

14. Out-of-the-box team building activities

While the concept of team building may not be unique, you can delight and energize your group by choosing an unexpected activity for your team outing. For instance, perhaps your team builds playhouses for underprivileged children. Or maybe a teenager schools the staff on slang and current pop culture during a lunchtime workshop. You and your remote team could even toast marshmallows over a tealight and share summertime memories at a virtual campfire.

More remarkable team building ideas include:

  • Task teams to create their own board game
  • Take a standup comedy class and host your own open mic
  • Go urban exploring (just be sure not to trespass and cause a headache for your legal department!)
  • Ninja warrior gym visits
  • Human chess
  • Rubber duck races
  • Puppet-building workshop/puppetshow
  • Visiting a sanctuary with unusual animals
  • Ice-cream making classes
  • Lip-dub famous movie scenes

Embracing a creative team building exercise shows that you put thought and care into your crew’s experience.

15. Clock-it lists

Clock-it lists are similar to bucket lists, only instead of being a collection of “things to do before you kick the bucket,” the entries on this collection are items to accomplish before you clock out.

You can instruct that participating teammates must complete clock-it lists in a single day or over the course of a week or month.

Here are examples of items you can include:

  • Get a high five from the CEO
  • Make a new work friend
  • Help another department
  • Eat lunch with a coworker
  • Attend an optional training
  • Stretch at my desk
  • Bring a treat for a teammate
  • Compliment a colleague
  • Learn a new fact about the company

To verify the activities, players collect witness signatures. Upon completion, employees present the list for a reward or chance at a prize.

16. Departmental exchange program

High schoolers often participate in international exchange programs that swap students between countries for the sake of deeper cultural understanding.

Similarly, your staff can gain a deeper understanding of the organization as a whole and obtain cross functional skills by participating in a departmental exchange program. To structure the swap, ask each department to opt out if they do not want to participate. When you gather a sufficient number of teams willing to welcome a shadow, notify the company and start accepting participants. When an employee expresses interest in taking part, coordinate a day or a block of hours for the worker to visit the new department and learn the ropes. This program is a great way to promote cross departmental respect and foster inter-organizational friendships.

17. Happiness allowances

Employee engagement activities aim to boost employee satisfaction and wellbeing. Happiness allowances provide a stipend for employees to treat themselves to something that makes them happy. The easiest way to coordinate this allowance is to collect and reimburse employee receipts. You can provide guidelines, so employees understand what expenses the company will or will not cover.

Monetary bonuses often go towards bills and other obligations. By requiring staff to splurge on themselves, you ensure that teammates will enjoy a treat. Employees will connect that little burst of pleasure with work, and the serotonin high will last much longer than cold hard cash.

Conclusion

A fully engaged workforce results in lower absenteeism and turnover. By fostering higher levels of satisfaction and productivity, you conserve company resources and bolster the bottom line. Considering that many employee engagement ideas are free or low-cost, these activities are in an organization’s best interest to invest in.

Feel free to also read up on the importance of employee engagement and employee engagement theory, plus these employee engagement statistics.

Next, check out this list of volunteer program ideas for employees, these ideas for work social committees and this list of ideas to boost employee satisfaction.

FAQ: Employee engagement activities

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about employee engagement activities.

What are employee engagement activities?

Employee engagement activities are fun and enriching initiatives that urge employees to take a more active role in the organization. These activities increase motivation, re-energize the workforce, and foster positive feelings about colleagues and company life.

What are the best employee engagement ideas?

The best employee engagement ideas are simple in nature and appeal to a wide audience. Effective exercises spark the growth of teammate ties, positive energy, civic-mindedness, healthy habits, and knowledge. The best employee engagement activities include mental health fairs, departmental exchange programs, and out-of-the-box team building activities.

How do you plan employee engagement activities?

To plan employee engagement activities, you must first decide on an objective. Perhaps you want to foster employee bonds, encourage on-time office attendance, or make staff feel supported by leadership. Once you know your aim, find an activity that accomplishes that goal. For instance, perhaps you host a competition or launch a new benefit program. Be sure to announce the exercise through multiple methods, such as email, flyers, and manager mentions during meetings to attract maximum participation.

How do you measure employee engagement activities’ success?

To measure the success of your employee engagement activities, you must first have a goal in mind. Before the activity, take a benchmark reading, so you can observe your employees’ behavior afterwards and notice any improvements.

Metrics such as staff turnout, participation, enthusiasm, feedback, and reviews, as well as return on investment, can measure the effectiveness of the enterprise.
Why are employee engagement activities important?
High levels of employee engagement correlate with innovation, job satisfaction, brand reputation, and worker retention. Engaged employees commit to their companies and perform to the highest standards. While employee engagement activities inspire workers to connect meaningfully with company culture and the work community, these initiatives also signal to staff that management cares about the employee experience.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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