20 Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

June 27th, 4:23 pm

20 Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas for 2021

Employee engagement is an essential piece in driving employee satisfaction. Employees who are engaged, motivated, and connected with their employers will likely decide to stay in the organization. This is all the more true for your remote teams, where it's more important than ever to build connections and intentionally make an effort to create an engaging work environment.

In this article, we've listed fun virtual employee engagement ideas to give you inspiration on how to engage remote employees.

This list contains the following:

  • fun virtual employee engagement ideas
  • virtual holiday employee engagement ideas
  • virtual easter employee engagement ideas
  • work from home engagement activities

List of Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas

1. Conduct Virtual Town Halls

Turn this traditional citizen engagement activity into a fun one in your virtual space. A town hall is one way the leadership can connect to the rest of the organization, provide company status, and answer pressing questions. The key here is to make it casual and simple. More importantly, make it easy for your employees to join. Ideally, they'd have to press a button, and that's it, so investing in a reliable video-conferencing platform is essential for this to work.

Start with an icebreaker to grab everyone's attention, celebrate small wins, and don't forget to thank everyone for their contribution. When speaking, it should be brief and direct to the point to not bore the audience. At the heart of it is the Q&A segment. Ensure that your employees can raise questions quickly by either voicing them out or submitting them via email or chatbox.

2. Maximize Virtual Coffee Breaks

When you can't have in-person coffee runs, why not have virtual coffee breaks instead? Typically, ranging from just 10-30 minutes, these are intentional breaks to foster relationships or ask one to take a break. Discussion around coffee breaks can vary from what you ate for breakfast to your hopes and dreams. It's about anything under the sun. It doesn't always have to involve coffee, tea, or anything with caffeine. You can switch it up with games too.

Click this for more virtual coffee break ideas.

3. Play Office Olympics

All work and no play makes one stressed and burned out. If that doesn't come with some truth to you, then you are probably in denial. Working remotely may sometimes blur out the lines between work and personal time, so take a break and have fun when you can. One way to do this is by playing online office games or competitions like your standard office Olympics. You can get creative by organizing a virtual amazing race, minute-to-win-it, or esports!

Check out our list of virtual Office Olympics ideas for more inspiration.

4. Hold Mindful Mondays

You know that almost familiar meme about dreadful Mondays or manic Mondays. What if you don't have to make the first day of the week less desirable? For every other week, huddle up with your teams and do a mindful Monday session for 30 minutes or one hour. The idea is to give each of your team members time to regress and unload some of their emotional baggage before they face the hustle and bustle of the current work week. It's a place for them to share and find comfort with the rest of the group. This activity will need a facilitator to lead the session and engage everyone.

5. Do a 99k Challenge

Employee Engagement Ideas

The road to a fitness journey is a single step, but to make it worthwhile, you'd have to make it to 99. This fitness challenge is straightforward. In a month, challenge your team to reach 99 thousand steps combined. Each team member must contribute several steps and whoever reaches 99 thousand steps or more at the end of the month gets to win a prize. Steps are recorded from their smartwatch or the health apps on their phones. They can either do walking, jogging, or running on the treadmill to gain these steps.

6. Build a Mental Wellness Program

Talking about mental wellness and its importance is a good start, but it's not sufficient. If you want to make that talk walk, you need to build a solid mental wellness program in place. You can start by equipping your managers with training on how to handle mental health emergencies. You can also partner with mental health organizations and conduct virtual mental wellness sessions with professionals as your speakers. In this way, you are also providing your people with the resources they need to improve their mental health.

For more ideas, read our article on how to support mental health in the workplace.

7. Ugly Holiday Sweater Themed Meeting

Who doesn't love themed meetings and the chance to dress up after your work jammies have all been used up? For your holiday meetings, try asking your employees to dress up in their ugly holiday sweaters. In one part of your meeting, shine a quick spotlight on everyone to see what they're wearing and using a quick poll, everyone will cast a vote on who wore the ugliest sweater among everybody. This activity is quick and easy and will be more fun if you insert a prize on whoever wins the Ugliest Sweater Badge!

8. Digital Perks and Rewards

One of the ways you can keep the loyalty of your teams is through rewards and recognition. As an employee, it's always a satisfying feeling when your efforts are recognized and praised. While you may not be able to give out tangible items as frequently as you can, mainly if your teams are distributed on far-off locations, you can still reward them digitally. Digital rewards are not new, and before remote work became immensely popular, it was implemented by some companies as part of their engagement efforts.

These rewards can be in the form of points that they can later check out for gift cards, shopping vouchers, tour tickets, discount coupons, etc. It may also help if you have a digital rewards platform in place, whether built in-house or outsourced through an external agency. What ultimately matters is that the rewards are appealing and relevant to your employees.

9. Have Fun with Slack Apps

Employee Engagement Ideas

If you're working remotely, you know about this app. Slack is by far one of the most popular and widely-used messaging apps, not just by remote teams but even those working on-site or in a hybrid workplace. It's not just for communication purposes, though. You can make the app your virtual watercooler space using its wide array of available apps for recognition, engagement, or collaboration purposes. Some examples are the Meme Bot, Trivia, Donut, and many others.

Click here for more ideas on fun Slack apps.

10. Allow Flexible Schedules

There is no denying that one of the best things about remote work is its flexibility. In a 2019 FlexJobs study, respondents said they'd be more loyal to their employers who offered flexible work options. If your teams are mainly output-based and are not client-facing, you may want to consider allowing them to work on flexible hours. This is good news for your employees with children at home, those with elderly parents to take care of, or even those who enjoy the flexibility. Here are some ideas on work flexibility:

  • Location flexibility
  • Compressed workweek
  • Part-time schedules
  • Job Sharing
  • Flextime

11. Provide Workspace/Connectivity Allowance

If you've been working remotely for a while, chances are you're missing the comfortable and ergonomic workspace in the office. There's a reason why it's always a good idea to invest in the right work equipment such as a work table and an ergonomic chair. If your employees haven't yet, you may provide them with these as part of your company perks in the form of a one-time allowance. Another form of benefit that you can give though is an internet or connectivity allowance. This is relevant since their work wouldn't be possible without an internet connection. It goes to show that a connection now is a basic need for them to perform their job.

12. Organize an Online Marketplace for Work Tools

If you are not keen on providing a workspace allowance, why not make it easier for your employees to look for these items through trusted partners and possibly at discounted prices. You can incorporate this into your perks program, and your employees may be exposed to special offers, coupons, and exclusive marked down prices. This is also good for your company's network and a win-win situation for you and your partners.

13. Book a Comedy Show

Employee Engagement Ideas

For a unique experience with your teams, why not book a comedy show as part of your happy hour activities. You can also include this as a segment in your company parties or as a stand-alone event. This is one way for your employees to loosen up and relieve their stress from work. After all, isn't laughter the best medicine?

Click here for more ideas on comedy and improv shows.

14. Virtual Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt

If you can't do the popular easter egg hunt on the holidays, then be creative and replicate them in your virtual space. All you need is to create clues and a reliable video-conferencing platform, and you're all set. Tailor your clues to be Easter-related, like asking people to show bunny ears, or purple eggs, or holding up a carrot. To motivate your employees to join, bring in a prize to those who complete the tasks or bring all the items the fastest.

15. Encourage quarterly or annual feedback.

Receiving constructive criticism is always an excellent way for one to improve and become a better individual. Feedback doesn't mean something is wrong. Most of the time, it's a form of showing care and attention towards a person, whether a direct report or a peer. Encourage a culture where feedback is given and appreciated, then you won't worry about the possibility of backstabbing and negative non-confrontational approaches.

You can course this through your annual mid-year conversations or a tool like your HRIS. One example is Workday, an HR software with feedback features wherein one can post positive appraisals to another person's profile. They can also include badges for 'continuous improvement', 'above & beyond, 'drives for results', and other performance highlights.

16. Send out care packages.

Digital rewards may have a modern and techy appeal, but there's nothing more heartwarming than a customized care package delivered straight to your employees' doorstep. You can send one to those who are sick time-off or someone in your team who's going on a rough time. The contents of the package can be anything suited to the employee's situation like vitamins, swag kit, extra masks and sanitizers as a pandemic kit, or a workstation kit with mouse pads and radiation glasses.

17. Create a self-paced virtual onboarding orientation

Employee Engagement Ideas

Most of these listed may apply more to your existing employees, but you don't want the new members of your tribe to miss out on the fun, do you? To help them assimilate into your company culture, why not make their employee onboarding experience more seamless and more accessible. This is where a self-paced virtual onboarding orientation comes in. With this type of experience, new hires will be able to go through each onboarding checklist at their own pace, rather than listen for long hours to a facilitator. Of course, pair up a self-paced learning system with a trainer who will be on standby if there may be further questions.

Check out our article on virtual onboarding ideas for inspiration.

18. Promote volunteering or donation platforms

Increase your employees' feeling of belongingness and purpose by giving back to your community. When they feel that they can make a difference through your company, their passion for work adds up. And when you belong to an organization that can impact, you feel proud to be part of that team. To provide your employees with these avenues, you may conduct virtual fundraisers as virtual fun runs for a cause, online auctions, or via payroll donations.

19. Nominate employee engagement champions

Gone are the days when engagement used to be solely the responsibility of HR units. Now, more and more organizations are looking at involving the very people that will receive these engagement activities. One of the benefits of having engagement champions in every team is empowering your employees to decide and plan activities on how they want to be engaged. You also get to create a relationship with the people on the ground and provide them with a space for their opinions to be heard, engagement-wise.

20. Do social media contests

There are two things that social media can give you for your engagement activities: wider and easier participation and employer branding. For participation, you can utilize photo or video contests with customized hashtags to track winning entries. Since social media is a public place, your activities will also be visible to people outside your organization. It can be part of your employer branding and enable your potential talents to see your culture.

In Summary

Whether you're a small or big organization, keeping your employees engaged is one of the essential lookouts for any business. Engaged employees are easy to work with, collaborative, and committed individuals. They are your drivers for success, and they help you maintain a positive working environment. With these ideas, you are well on your way to creating happy, contented, and engaged teams of your own.

FAQs:

How do you keep virtual employees engaged?

Keeping your virtual employees engaged may not require the same effort as your on-site office. There are no casual run-ins or chance encounters. Instead, all your actions are intentional if you want to make a relationship with them. Fostering personal connections by keeping your communication lines open, making them feel heard and valued, organizing virtual engagement activities for them to bond with others, encouraging them to prioritize their health and their wellness are some of the ways you can be engaged and motivated to work with you.

What are virtual employee engagement activities?

Virtual engagement activities are online activities intentionally designed to connect with employees that are working remotely. These activities may either be in the form of casual hangouts, games, or recognition activities. Some of these activities not just keep your employees engaged but also help them build relationships. Ultimately, the goal is to create a positive working environment where employees are happy about their work and drive desirable company culture.

How do I make my employees feel connected?

Employees feel like they belong when they sense a connection between themselves, their work, the people around them, and their organization's values. With these principles, it's essential to think of your organization as a community of talents working together with one goal. When your perspective is about creating a positive community, your drive to constantly reach out and connect with your employees will follow.

How would you motivate your team to work from home?

The act of influencing a remote team is intentional, especially when you need to create moments with specific goals. Here are some ways to do that:
  • Start by thinking about what kind of culture you want to promote.
  • Keep an open and flexible line of communication.
  • Empower your employees by giving them an assignment or interim roles (like as employee engagement champions).
  • Encourage a culture of constructive feedback.
  • Recognize both your teams small and big wins.

Get remote-work tips delivered straight to your inbox

Related articles