4 Ways to Boost Employee Engagement with Team Celebrations


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Something as simple as pie can be the trick to boosting employee engagement. In fact, Frame USA created an internal program allowing employees to purchase pies to then participate in ‘pieing’ their manager in the face. The organization expected to raise money for charity, but what they didn’t expect was the boost it gave to employee engagement.

While Frame USA didn’t schedule this year’s event on Pi Day, these sorts of employee engagement incentives can be centered around all kinds of non-traditional holidays. This gives employees something fun to look forward to, while simultaneously boosting productivity and morale.

These tactics may seem silly, but can engage employees more effectively than traditional methods. Which is exactly why companies are offering up unique ways to celebrate in the workplace.

Here is a look at how to improve employee engagement through team celebrations:

Celebrate Silly Holidays to Combat the Mundane

Nothing beats the monotony of an ordinary workday like celebrating an off-the-wall holiday. Implementing fun themes is a great way to keep momentum going and boost engagement.

Consider celebrating Star Wars Day — “May the Fourth be with you” — a day created to celebrate the legendary Star Wars films. This is a great time to encourage employees to share in an interest from outside the workplace and find fun commonalities. It’s also a good time to open up discussions about how employees see the company evolving and coming up with fun new innovative ways to grow together.

If Star Wars isn’t appealing, consider some of the other silly days in May to celebrate and boost employee engagement: No Socks Day (May 8), No Dirty Dishes Day (May 18), Be a Millionaire Day (May 20).

Bonus Tip: Use May 20 as a day to incorporate investments reviews or teach tricks about savings and spending for employees. This is an effective way to show them their value (pun intended) through development opportunities, and engage them as a group.

Acknowledge Cultural Holidays to Enhance Diversity and Inclusion

Everyone has different beliefs and backgrounds, and it is important as an employer to recognize them. A great way to do that is to celebrate a cultural holiday. This will boost engagement around diversity and inclusion because everyone will feel accounted for.

Make a taco bar for lunchtime on Cinco de Mayo (May 5) to celebrate Mexican and Hispanic heritage. Recognize Ramadan (May 27) which marks the beginning of daylight fasting for the Islam religion. Or plan an intimate celebration for staff around Memorial Day.

Bonus Tip: It would be impossible to be able to celebrate everyone’s beliefs and still get work done. However, be sure you are extending the opportunity to everyone. Post a suggestion box allowing employees to request a celebration that’s fun or meaningful for them.

Then, if you can’t throw an entire day of fun, consider incorporating it in a more manageable way. Coordinate a themed, workplace, potluck luncheon. This won’t require much cost or time, but will aid in your inclusion efforts.

Observe Each Other’s Personal Moments

Celebrating personal moments with team members is an easy way to boost employee engagement. Everyone loves to celebrate their birthdays, the birth of a baby, or a marriage. Use these moments to boost office morale and show staff you value their personal lives.

Show them you care by decorating their workspace with streamers and banners. Print out funny or motivational pictures and display them around their desk. Offer a small gift like a coffee mug or some candy. This is an inexpensive way to show staff you’re thinking of them at an important time.

Bonus Tip: Create an employee birthday game: The Game of You. Do this by taking a bingo board and arranging silly facts about the birthday star. Then have staff gather during their lunch break to play.

Boost team morale by providing fun prizes for the winners like an extra 15 minute break. There will be no cost to you, but employees will appreciate the break from the mundane.

Praise Workplace Accomplishments

Employees are more likely to be engaged and perform better when their hard work is recognized. According to a February 2017 Gallup survey 37 percent of engaged employees are looking for jobs or watching for opportunities, as are 56 percent of not engaged, and 73 percent of actively disengaged employees.

Don’t let your staff fall into the actively disengaged employees category. Put forth the effort to openly celebrate a job well done. Hand out a tangible souvenir of success. This might mean a company t-shirt or throw blanket that solidifies the accomplishment. Emboss the souvenir with a catchy phrase like: ‘in it to win it,’ something that symbolizes hard work.

Bonus Tip: If you opt to give out awards, do so in front of the entire staff. This can include anything from employee of the month, a work anniversary, or a customer service recognition, etc. Make sure the awards are something to be proud of, like a trophy or carefully articulated certificate.

No matter what method you choose to celebrate your team, just be sure everyone is excited about the process. Incorporate team celebrations to commemorate unique holidays, personal moments, or hard work, and you will definitely see a boost in employee engagement.

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.