Six Effective Ways to Help Boost Employee Engagement

Without question, employees are among the biggest contributing factors to any company’s success. You want to attract and retain top talent and keep your existing employees fully engaged to improve job satisfaction and lower turnover. But how do you best boost employee appreciation at the workplace?

What can your busy organization (or HR department) do to increase employee engagement levels, help your workforce bring energy and enthusiasm to their jobs, and ultimately drive elevated organizational performance? When it comes to engaging workers, it’s helpful to begin with an engagement survey to gauge existing engagement and develop a survey action plan, a roadmap for the future.

The ways of appreciating employee performance can take various forms, including compensation, development opportunities, team building, and many other initiatives. 

While some employees will naturally find certain things more rewarding and engaging than others, the goal is to achieve a universally significant feeling of employee appreciation. This article delves into some of the more effective ways to do that.

1. Spot Bonus Programs 

According to the Society for Human Resources Management, nearly 85% of employees aren’t engaged at work – yikes! While many ways to engage employees aren’t complex, they are vital to the success of high-performing companies.

One popular engagement tool is using spot bonus programs, a terrific way to make employee appreciation personal. When individual employee performance demonstrates value, that performance should be acknowledged, reinforced, and rewarded. 

By recognizing the work an employee does that well contributes to corporate goals and objectives, managers can publicly highlight and recognize behaviors they appreciate. This can make employees feel good about their efforts and more engaged in their work.

Spot bonus programs can be the framework for encouraging employee behaviors that matter most to an organization – collaboration, initiative, teamwork, results, process improvements, resourcefulness, introducing money-saving measures, and so on. 

Many companies also let employees recognize deserving colleagues at any level of the organization, inside or outside their own work team. Some rewards are publicly displayable, like trophies or certificates, some are monetary awards or gift cards.

Other employer programs give points for spot awards that can accumulate over time and be redeemed for company-branded incentives so recipients can individually tailor the award to their interests. Whatever you may decide to offer, these programs are a great way to engage and reward employees. 

2. Professional Development 

Companies are built on a foundation of their workforce talent. Seek to create an environment that naturally enables every member of your workforce to achieve their full potential. While some employees may scoff at the idea of professional development activities they are still a useful tool to help continued engagement. 

First, make sure new hires are trained well during their onboarding process and then provide continual, additional training and development opportunities throughout their career so their confidence and skills grow.

Employees should be encouraged to continually develop their careers by seeking opportunities to build on and increase their existing skills. Whether you offer periodic online training, seminars or send employees to conferences to expand their knowledge base, continued professional development allows your employees a chance to stay engaged in their work. 

3. Teambuilding 

Helping your business teamwork as a unit and building a sense of community among team members is easier when the team gets to know each other better. Teambuilding examples that have been successfully implemented include board game lunches, book clubs, escape room outings, and group tours of local attractions. 

Perhaps managers could schedule monthly team lunches, recognize birthdays, encourage the team to enter a 5K walk/run together, or literally get employees pulling in the same direction with a tug-of-rope activity and other lawn games. The possibilities for group experiences are endless but can be powerfully meaningful to work teams.

Teambuilding encourages employees to work together, creating a bond that can help bolster their individual employee experience, nurture collective team success, and improve your company culture.

4. Diversity and Inclusion Programs

America is more culturally diverse than at any other time in our nation’s history – and is growing to be even more so. As the composition of the workforce changes, the inclusion of all employees is imperative. Fostering diversity at every level of your company and not just during the hiring process will have a profound impact on your employee’s involvement and satisfaction. 

Embracing the special skills, strengths, wisdom, and differences that each person brings to the workplace is especially important at ensuring an engaged workforce. Everyone needs to feel appreciated and safe when they go to work. Employee engagement is about all workers being fully included as team members.

Employee affinity networks, diversity and inclusion councils, inclusive corporate language training, and bias-reducing practices are among the many tactics that can build team spirit and help employees feel accepted, included, and welcome. Make sure leaders authentically embrace these efforts and model expected behavior – a mindset of inclusivity starts at the top. 

When employees within your various organizational constituencies feel involved and trusted, particularly those in historically underrepresented populations, overall engagement can increase. If needed, offer diversity training for your staff, as well as regularly checking in with your employees via surveys to ensure everyone feels respected. 

5. Sponsored Volunteer Opportunities 

In a world when so many aspects of day-to-day business take place online, make it a point to go offline as a work team to volunteer in your local community. It may seem counterintuitive at first that leaving the walls of the workplace can help boost employee engagement. However, giving employees an official outlet to share experiences can strengthen colleague relationships. 

If building company/community loyalty, and higher workplace morale is your goal then offering a chance to serve the community. Employees value volunteer opportunities embedded in a company’s culture and actions. In fact, the majority of employees surveyed say it’s “imperative” or “very important” to work at a place where the corporate culture supports volunteering.

Whatever worthwhile cause your team might support – be it Toys for Tots, the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Adopt a Highway, or something else – the goal is to help your employees feel good about sharing a common purpose as they help their neighbors. 

Volunteer opportunities can also help employees develop leadership or problem-solving skills while positively cultivating workplace camaraderie. Overall, volunteering can help elevate participants’ sense of meaning at work.

Many employers pay for a certain number of employee volunteer hours during work time annually as part of their benefits program. Studies show this is a perk that employees value greatly – and it’s also a strong differentiator when recruiting. Sure, employee volunteerism might be fun but its goals are serious stuff for teams, which is why it’s on the radar of so many employers. 

6. Service Anniversary Programs 

Appreciation is a fundamental human desire. Helping your employees feel appreciated, that they’ve had an important role to play in your organization’s success, can reinforce their sense of purpose and value. The employees who are most likely to put more into your company are the ones who feel personally invested in your company.

Take time to recognize employees’ service anniversaries, particularly milestone anniversaries, with tenure-based gifts and accompanying certificates – it’s a crucial opportunity for 1:1 recognition.

A handwritten note from a direct supervisor, thanking an employee for their achievement, can make a great deal of difference to an employee and further personalize their employment experience. An email or note from the CEO is a nice, added touch. 1:1 lunches, shout-outs in employee communications, and related efforts can help employees feel good, and appreciated for their work tenure.


It is said that employers don’t choose talent – talent chooses you. Simply put, your employee engagement program needs the same attention as the rest of your business programs. Your employees will respect your efforts and become more engaged. 

Make sure your company recognizes that continually doing even small things to appreciate employees can make a big difference in developing an active, engaged advocate for your organization. You’ve already made the first move by reading this article.