Till now the concept of employee engagement was only limited to big corporations with a large workforce.

However, that notion is changing now and this change is brought in by none other than the millennials with their unique business ideas in the form of startups.

Well before beginning with the rest if you’re new to the term “Employee Engagement” then here’s what it means:

Employee engagement is the practice that packs in various activities related to employee welfare and job satisfaction for keeping their morale high and boosting their productivity. These activities include things like appreciation, rewards, perks & benefits and more based on the organisations’ preferences.

However, the present-day definition of employee engagement is not only limited to keeping the employees hooked to their work. It is also about providing them with the good employee experience which positively affects various factors like retention, burnout, work environment and more. And all these factors when combined ensure a highly engaged and productive workforce ready to give their best for the betterment of their organisation.

With the rise in the number of startups, it has now become very important for them to start practising employee engagement from their initial phases itself.

The reason why it’s an important affair for startups is that most of the times they have to achieve a lot with limited resources in hand. In such cases, the success of the organisation depends entirely on the work performance of your employees and co-workers. But again, with most of its operational funds invested in developmental activities, there hardly remains anything that can be used towards employee welfare and other related programs.

But it’s not the end of the road here.

There’s still a lot you can do for your employees to keep them motivated and engaged at work. And here’s a list of some of those cost-effective activities ideas that you can implement at your workplace right away.

Let’s begin!

Employee Engagement Ideas for Startups and Small Businesses:

1. Rewards and Recognition

We all love it when we are praised and rewarded for our work or achievements. It lifts our morale high and adds to our level of motivation.

Likewise, having a rewards and recognition program in our workplace is the first thing you can consider for keeping your employees motivated. Moreover, it forms the backbone of every employee engagement program.

Recognising your employees for their good work is one of the most basic and cost-effective ways of adding value to their work. Employees like it when they feel worthy and belonged to their workplaces. This feeling keeps them afloat even during the tough times at job and fuels their zeal to keep improving. At the same time, you can plan on incentivizing their efforts with some low-cost corporate employee benefits that won’t break your bank.

2. The Option to Work from Home

Many employees, especially the millennials who form the majority of the workforce in today’s date would see this option as the greatest benefit an employer can provide them with.

Employees perform the best when they enjoy a sound work-life balance. However, the fact that in today’s date everyone’s lives have become hectic isn’t hidden. And often employees fall prey to this when they need to balance their work and also worry about their personal responsibilities at the same time. This indeed creates a great amount of conflict within themselves, leaving them in no capacity to do their job properly.

But providing your employees with the option to work from home would be a very welcoming move here. This will allow them to commit to their personal duties without missing their work. Also, it’ll help them stay focused on their jobs when at the workplace without taking any stress about other things whatsoever.

3. Take their Opinions

Employee engagement is not only about motivating your employees to give their best at work. It also means making them feel belonged and an integral part of their workplace.

Your employees or co-workers in a startup don’t just work for you, they help you execute your dreams with their own aspirations linked to it. Therefore, it’s very important to take their opinions regarding their work or other issues in the workplace before jumping into a decision. And the best way to do this is by conducting one-on-one meetings.

The opinions that you receive from your employee will give you a much broader perspective on any issue or situation. Thus, helping you to come up with a viable solution and also add to your efforts towards employee empowerment.

4. Celebrate Employee Birthdays and other Milestones

Celebrating special occasions like birthdays, work anniversaries or others is very important for keeping your employees in a good mood.

However, amidst the busy schedule, these occasions often go overlooked. And this may sometimes lead to a negative impact on an employees’ emotions associated with his or her workplace.

But as an employer when you remember and celebrate your employees’ special occasions, it makes them feel happy. Further, it boosts the camaraderie shared by all within your workplace and also creates a positive work environment.

It is when your employees are happy you can expect the best out of them in every sense.

5. Focusing on Financial Wellness

One of the most common reasons why your employees might not be performing up to their mark could be related to their financial situation.

Often due to bad financial decisions employees run into various problems. And if these problems persist for a long duration or keep on happening, again and again, it might affect the employee’s ability to concentrate on his or her job. The same issue also gives rise to the problem of employee absenteeism which is really not desirable for startups or small businesses.

However, getting them some help in the form of sessions on financial wellness would be the best thing to do. This will not only help your employees stay away from financial jargon but will also project you as a responsible leader.

6. Be the Mentor

This one could be a very unique way of uplifting your employees’ spirit.

Every employee is unique having his or her own way of doing things. One may also be an expert in certain things not related to their work. And this provides a unique opportunity for employers for using it as a part of their employee development programs.

Here you can let your employees become a mentor and share his or her skills with everyone else in the workplace. These skills could be related to anything right from cooking to competitive coding. Doing this would help your employees learn new skills and also help sharpen the skill set of the employees sharing their knowledge.

7. Games and Other Challenges

Too much work makes Jack a dull boy.

Well, it’s not only Jack but even your employees go through the same when they’re entitled to the same monotonous work each and every day.

But adding some jinx to their daily work in the form of challenges or encouraging them to indulge in some indoor games would just do the job. Here, you can throw them some health challenges too and also plan on incentivizing such challenges to ensure their participation. Thus,

This will help you gamify your workplace that would keep up your employees’ spirit. Thus, ensuring a satisfied and engaged workforce.

8. Pet-Friendly Workplace

This point is one of the most desirable things by an employee. Many employees who own a pet often have to leave them back at home all alone. And when at work the worrying thoughts about their pets hinder the employees from paying attention to their work.

However, having a pet-friendly workspace not only solves this problem but it also lets the employees stay calm and happy when their pets are near them.

9. Organising Potlucks

Potlucks are another great way of promoting camaraderie amongst everyone in the workplace.

It is actually a food party where everyone has to contribute a homemade dish to share. Basically, it’s bonding at the food table. Also, organising potlucks is a much cheaper option than getting everyone out to a restaurant or so.

When teams sit down together for a meal, it creates a very different ambience where each and everyone can share things and learn from each other. And all this positively affects their overall productivity as a team.

10. Encourage Employees to Volunteer

Encouraging your employees to take part in voluntary services is another way to engage them. It’s sheer human nature that when we give something out of our own will, it returns back to us in the form of joy and peace to our mind.

You can encourage your employees to take part in community cleaning services or take care of elderlies at an old age home. It’ll help your employees rejuvenate themselves from the hectic schedule which they otherwise follow.

It is when employees have a free mind they can give their best at work. Also, it’ll lift your organisation’s image and earn goodwill for your brand.

This article was originally published in Inc42.

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