Employee Engagement Ideas & Strategies to Implement in 2022

Workers are rethinking what they really want and what matters to them. If employers want to keep and attract talent, they need to rethink their engagement strategies as well.
Jelena Leung
January 7, 2022

It’s 2022. Are your employee engagement strategies in line with the times?

Every company wants to attract and retain top talent. The challenge right now? After almost two years of working remotely, people are exhausted. The juggling of home life and work life from the same space, the lack of in-person connections, collaboration and camaraderie, and the ongoing uncertainty of the global pandemic have left employees feeling stressed and burnt-out. Many don’t feel supported and appreciated, or that their goals and values are aligned with those of their employer. 

Workers are rethinking what they really want and what matters to them. If employers want to keep and attract talent, they need to rethink their engagement strategies as well.

The Big Quit

During the pandemic, quit rates have skyrocketed. As workers rethink their careers, work conditions, and long-term goals, a tidal wave of resignations has washed across North America and around the world. 

An August 2021 survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 65% of employees were looking for a new job while 88% of executives said their company was experiencing higher turnover than normal.

A Fortune and Deloitte survey of 117 chief executive officers of Fortune 1000 companies in October 2021 found that:

  • 73% of CEOs say a labor/skills shortage is the most likely external issue to disrupt their business in the next 12 months, followed by 70% who cited the pandemic and future variants as the most disruptive.
  • 57% say attracting and recruiting talent is among their organization's biggest challenges, followed by 51% who said retaining talent as their biggest challenge. 
  • While only 35% of CEOs say they've expanded benefits in the past 12 months in order to bolster their ability to retain talent. 

In what has been dubbed The Great Resignation, AKA The Big Quit, experts predict that when the pandemic ends and life returns to ‘normal’, even more employees will leave their jobs as they re-evaluate their careers and work-life balance. And that turnover is not good for business.

Why is employee engagement important?

A July 2020 Gallup poll found that a thin majority of employees (51%) cite being “not engaged” in the workplace, and only 36% consider themselves “engaged”. 

Engaged employees:

Are more productive and focused on their roles.

  • Put in more effort and do their best work.
  • Are invested and interested in their work and organization.
  • Ask what they can do to improve the company.
  • Support a positive company culture.
  • Live the company’s culture and values at work every day.
  • Feel heard and valued by their employer. 
  • Understand how they are contributing to the company.
  • Are easier to work with — for management, colleagues, and customers.
  • Make for happier and more satisfied customers.
  • Are apt to be more passionate about what they do. 
  • Are less likely to quit their jobs and seek new employment.
  • Ask questions and participate in meetings.
  • Share news and ideas with their boss and co-workers.
  • Request opportunities for personal and professional development.
  • Trust their managers and superiors have their best interests at heart. 

And the list goes on. Having a comprehensive employee engagement strategy helps improve employee loyalty, increases productivity, elevates customer service, makes your business more profitable, all while increasing employee satisfaction and happiness. And who makes better brand ambassadors than happy employees?

The good news? The steps to improve engagement don’t need to be complicated; but they do need to be prioritised and practiced. 

Employee engagement strategies and ideas.

Nurture Internal Communication

We’ve all heard the adage that information is power. Communication is the flow of information, and the stronger its exchange is, the more powerful its benefits are for all involved. It helps set expectations, breaks down silos and improves collaboration, and reduces the chance of conflicts and misunderstandings among employees — and the more it flows back and forth, the more power it has to engage your employees.

  • Foster Feedback. Don’t assume employees are happy. Ask them. Clear, two-way, and welcome communication is vital to an organization’s success and their employees success and happiness. 
  • Check in often. More than ever, employees need more regular and frequent feedback — and that’s a good thing. Not only does this help keep them on course, which means less wasted time and higher productivity, it also makes them feel more valued, and therefore engaged. Both formal and informal group check-ins or one-on-ones are valuable engagement tools for managers. Use them weekly.
  • Let your people “in”. Employees want to be in the know. Share “inside” information with them, things like the direction of the company and challenges and opportunities the organization is facing. Involve them in the decision-making process and consider their feedback and ideas. Letting them into the circle of trust makes them feel like a valued part of the organization, which strengthens the whole team and raises engagement.
  • Make sure new hires get to know the whole team. New employees get to know their bosses and immediate team members fairly quickly, but it’s important for them to also get to know and build relationships with staff from other areas or departments. 
  • Set the tone with food. Not only is food nurturing, it provides an excellent bonding opportunity for those sharing a meal. From coffee and snacks to full on meals, making food part of your gatherings and meetings shows you value your employees, and that you have their best interest at heart. Ritual for Companies offers simplified solutions that fit all teams sizes and needs. 

Delegate responsibility, not just tasks.

Giving employees more responsibility does not mean piling on the tasks and to-dos. It’s about entrusting them with important projects and initiatives, and providing them with something meaningful and worth achieving. Humans are inherently goal-oriented. Giving them ownership —  and the opportunity to shine — can greatly boost their sense of purpose, morale, and engagement.

Provide training and continued learning.

Want to build a culture of trust and engagement? Set your team up for continued success with the proper training, skills, and insight they need to move forward and prosper, not only at their jobs, but after hours too.

  • Professional-led Lunch and Learn. From critical workplace soft skills, industry trends, or personal topics like financial planning, wellness strategies and mindfulness, bringing in outside speakers can be a great way of fostering a culture of learning and growth, improving morale, and empowering your team. 
  • Employee-led Lunch and Learns. Chances are your team members have a diverse set of interests and skills, both at work, and outside of it too. Invite different team members to host a work lunch ‘show-and-tell’ on a subject they are passionate about. This gives them an opportunity to showcase their expertise, and introduces other employees to new ideas. As a bonus, it also counts as a unique social and team-building event.
  • Mentor Your Employees. This may sound like a no-brainer, but some managers are too busy with their own work or find it too much trouble to help out their employees. But taking the time and effort to mentor employees pays off in dividends. Not only does it keep them engaged, it gives you the opportunity to develop a crack team that can eventually work more autonomously, which in turn, can make you look good to your superiors — and ease your overall workload. 

Practice Employee Recognition.

Engaged employees care about the job they are doing, and they want to know others care and recognize the effort they put in too. Recognizing and rewarding your employees demonstrates to them that the organization values their performance and hard work. This, in turn, boosts their confidence and further drives them to continue performing, making it an essential part of employee engagement. 

Host team lunches. 

What do power bowls, Pad Thai and cheesy pizza all have in common? When served as a team lunch option, they have the power to encourage organic conversation and provide opportunities for employees to bond. Company provided work lunches also provide a welcome mid-day break to both employees in the office, or working remotely.

Rather than catering large meals, consider corporate meal plans, available through Ritual for Companies, which offer many benefits:

  • No need to estimate how many people will be working remotely and from home on any given day, saving admin hours.
  • Eliminates leftovers and waste, saving money.
  • No need to coordinate around your teams’ dietary restrictions or preferences.
  • Employees can choose the exact meal they want from your list of restaurants in your area.
  • Employees get their own individual lunch, making it a safer option than buffets or family style serving.
  • Works with your set budget.
  • And more. 

Focus on health and wellness.

An alarming 77% of American professionals have experienced burnout at their current job. Numerous studies have shown time and again that employer health and wellness programs and policies not only yield higher productivity and engagement in the workplace, but also help reduce job stress and employee turnover. Any organization serious about employee engagement knows that starts with caring for their people.

  • Take breaks. Taking breaks helps us process information properly, helps prevent mental fatigue, and allows us to better focus. Encourage employees to get out of their chairs, rest their eyes from screens and move at least once an hour. 
  • Encourage flexibility. Giving employees flexibility is another way of showing your trust in them. Consider options to work from home part of the time, or work flex hours around family life and other interests. When you provide people with flexibility, they're more likely to be productive, happier, and more engaged in their work.
  • Give employees the right to disconnect. Disconnecting is another important step in work-life balance. Putting policies in place that limit late night or weekend emails, gives your employees official permission to turn off work and focus on relaxing and refreshing.
  • Offer wellness-focused perks. Unlimited vacation days, yoga classes or massages, meditation pods, catered lunches or coffee breaks, and healthy snacks in the lunchroom are examples of perks that make your office a more fun place to work, and boost mental and physical wellbeing.

Have some fun together.

All work and no play makes, well, a dull work environment — and it makes employees unengage. Incorporating some fun into the workplace brings many benefits: it can help break up the day-to-day monotony, reduce stress and burnout levels, improve employee relationships, build trust, break down silos between departments, and foster team building.

  • Celebrate your team. Birthdays, work anniversaries, baby or bridal showers, promotions and milestones — celebrating these occasions together will make team members feel connected, valued and appreciated.
  • Work in regular social events. Bring your team together on a routine basis with regularly scheduled events like Friday afternoon meet-ups, daily afternoon coffee and cookie breaks, game or trivia nights or other activities they can connect over.
  • Foster healthy team-building activities. Take some time off work for some fun together. Bringing employees together at off-site social events helps them build bonds with colleagues they may not get to interact with on a regular basis, further strengthening the organization.
  • Give employees ownership of events and planning. Employees will be more engaged with events if they are consulted or tasked with the planning. Besides, who knows better than them what kind of events they most want? Put out a call for volunteers, and consider setting up social committees by event type or by department to spread the responsibility around.
  • Make food part of your events. Whether enjoyed during or after an event (or even as the event itself!), food plays an important part in celebrating, bringing people together and making them feel more connected.

Developing a culture of ‘We, not Me’.

As employees seek a greater sense of purpose and connection at work, adopting the right engagement strategies will become even more crucial. However, it’s an investment worth making — the more employees become engaged, the stronger and more cohesive your culture, and thus your organization, will become. After all, being engaged means looking at work through a lens of ‘we’, not ‘me’. And that is how winning teams are made.

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Jelena Leung
Jelena is the Senior Director of Marketing at Ritual. Her expertise in marketing strategy and execution has spurred the growth of the many businesses and teams that she has worked with. As a marketing leader with more than 14 years of experience, she has obtained valuable knowledge and insights about marketing in the restaurant industry. She occasionally writes about the topics of human resources, restaurant marketing, employee retention, team building, and more.
Jelena Leung
Jelena is the Senior Director of Marketing at Ritual. Her expertise in marketing strategy and execution has spurred the growth of the many businesses and teams that she has worked with. As a marketing leader with more than 14 years of experience, she has obtained valuable knowledge and insights about marketing in the restaurant industry. She occasionally writes about the topics of human resources, restaurant marketing, employee retention, team building, and more.