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Employee Engagement Tactics & Appreciation Ideas – Everything You Need to Know

By Michael Heller Employee Engagement

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Updated March 2018

How to Increase Employee Engagement Tactics

What You’ll Learn In This Guide

  • How to build employee engagement and appreciation tactics that work for you
  • The benefits employee engagement and appreciation have on your business
  • How to encourage employee appreciation and feedback in your workplace

With new generations flowing into the workplace, employee appreciation and engagement has been on the rise. What better time than the present to start kicking off some of these strategies and see what works for you? After all, 58% of employees say “giving recognition” is one of the leading engagements they want employers to prioritize. Start simple and test run a few of these immediate tactics:

  1. Get healthy.

    Provide healthy snacks in the office kitchen and encourage 20-minute department walks every day. Employees who diet and exercise regularly perform 11% higher than their peers who do not.

  2. Host motivational coaches.

    Host a small speaking or coaching event for individual departments on a rotating schedule. This is a great way to build teamwork exercises and get employees involved with outside motivated leaders. Start with lunch or appetizers and learn and grow from there!

  3. Ask for feedback.

    When you’re engaging with multiple teams and people a day, it’s important to stay close to your vital team members. Encourage a culture of 360-degree feedback so everyone has a chance to plug their thoughts on how things are working for them as individuals. (Read everything you need to know about going 360 to learn more.)

  4. Give them more work. Yes, really!

    Nothing shows your appreciation and trust in an employee than delegating them more tasks or responsibilities.

  5. Turn it up.

    Play music in the office – this may not always be possible, but bump some tunes when the time is appropriate. This brings elements of joy to the office, while increasing motivation, learning, attention and memorization in the brain.

These techniques are just the beginning to an awesome culture of engagement. Expand your list with more employee engagement ideas.

Use these employee engagement tactics to increase happiness, retention and more at your company. Click To Tweet

How Employee Engagement Drives Business Success

It’s simple. Engaged employees means higher productivity rates in your office. We don’t mean small, nice-to-have increases, but big time boosts. Gallup studies show companies with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher EPS compared to their competitors. Even better? Work units in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 22% in profitability and 21% in productivity. How does management get there? How do we create that initial spark to get the ball rolling on engagement? Keep These in Mind:

Build on employee strengths.

Management teams that focus on individual employee strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity rates. Don’t overcomplicate. When someone hands something in that exceeds your expectations, or requirements, say something. When delegating tasks to specific employees, communicate why you gave them those tasks. For example: “Susan, I know you love working directly with our clients and we’ve been hearing a lot of great feedback about your approach and organization style, please make headway with our client reports this month and show our new employees your process.”

Increase communication frequency and accuracy.

Poor communication will (and maybe already has) cost your company cash. David Grossman reported that poor communication to and between employees in the workplace cost the average company $62.4 million a year. This happens in emails when important members of the team don’t get included, when meetings are held with exclusive members and when follow-up meetings aren’t with the rest of your teams, etc. Build communication guidelines and integrate them into each employee’s job responsibilities. The more clear each person’s communication style is, the closer to one idea, concept or direction everyone will be on each task or project.

Keep managers in the loop.

Invest time in those who lead your teams and departments just as much as you would individual employees. The benefits trickle down the stream – employees working with engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged themselves. Imagine the strength you can build!

Appreciate your teams.

The number one reason American employees leave their jobs is lack of appreciation. This doesn’t have to slash the company budget either – saying “thank you” for working on tasks that are not within the bounds of an employee’s regular work, or providing volunteer opportunities to those who have expressed interest are great starts to offering skill development.

How to Increase Employee Retention

As HR leaders, it’s our duty to understand both what makes our employees tick and what excels them. Without this knowledge, your organization’s ability to compete will plummet. When engagement suffers, innovation and the ability to inspire teams decreases. Does your front door seem to be turning into more of a revolving door? Review your ongoing performance plan to identify and tackle the main source of high turnover issues with the following thoughts in mind:

      • Engage hellos with values.

        Within the first 30-days of employment, new hires are testing to see if your leaders and teams will live up to what was communicated during the recruiting process. Organizations and HR teams work so hard on the employer brand messaging, the sourcing and talent attraction process, but often fall short once employees actually get in the door.

        This is an immediate opportunity to create an engaged new hire. Hewitt studies show a direct correlation with cultural alignment and engagement having an impact on company financial performance. Keep your organizational goals and values deeply ingrained with the onboarding process, just as it was in the recruitment process. This helps communicate your core values to new hires from the start to kick off well-performing employees.

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    • Reward and recognize.

      How do you determine how teams and individual employees should be rewarded and recognized? T-shirts and company swag are nice, but for teams who put in a whole week of work dedicated to one project, that probably won’t cut it. Think about what drives organizational success with your teams. What’s their love language? Align your rewards and recognition efforts with those specifically to match their needs. Follow through in a timely manner to reinforce the behavior you desire as a leader.

    • Keep feedback moving.

      Some actions or wins can’t wait for the annual review to roll around to be recognized. Be honest with yourself – will your team of leaders really remember every great success each team member or department has at the end of the year? Heck, after a long week of hustling through projects, calls and tasks, can you remember what you did all week?
      Take time to provide real-time feedback, and do it regularly. It doesn’t have to be long or documented, filed, recorded, presented, etc. Shoot an email, make a quick “appreciation call,” or even send a text or chat to someone who did an excellent job on something. Don’t keep your teams guessing if they’re doing a great job or falling short. Recognize their struggles and strengths, give a pat on the back and a quick note of encouragement. Sometimes that’s all a person needs to turn a terrible day into an okay day.

    Here’s a simple employee engagement and appreciation tip from a leading company:

    Relatio is an IT company based in California with a mighty welcoming committee thanks to their “extremely collaborative CEO.” Relatio is a proven example of what happens when you have an inclusive onboarding process in place. Organizations with standard onboarding in place experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% higher retention rates.

    Build a welcoming committee that leads your new hires through every process, every communication style and tendency, every drill and every room of your organization. Start by preparing an onboarding packet for each new hire and assign them an onboarding mentor to lead them through their first few weeks with your team. This ensures the new hire is directed through the company and has someone they can turn to for questions at any time. Get more employee appreciation ideas from these leading companies!

    Finding Simplicity in Employee Appreciation Ideas

    66% of employees report they would likely leave their job if they didn’t feel they were being appreciated by managers and leaders. We know this isn’t new in the industry, but how are workplaces doing it? Are the ping pong tables, snack bars and weekly lunches really worth it or just another payment weighing down the budget? Making your employees feel valued can be complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Weave in a little simplicity with these ideas:

    • Present your teams with opportunities.

      What kind of learning and development opportunities are on the table for your teams, if any? 91% of high performing teams report working for employers who offer some type of learning and development opportunity. Offer a conference stipend to department leads once a year. This gives them the freedom to choose a work-approved conference to attend each year and helps bring new ideas and innovation strategies to your departments.

    • Fill conversations with challenges.

      Has Bob from accounting been stuck in the same rut for 10 years without a change in duties? Does he care? Have you asked him? Think about weaving questions into your performance reviews that challenge employees to try new things each quarter. Flexible responsibilities not only provide skill development, but allows employees to drive their career with you. Maybe Bob has been an excellent accountant for 10 years, but does he want to dip into new departments or small projects?

    • Show their team counts on them.

      Nothing bogs down employee engagement levels like letting your employees know they’re 100% replaceable. Employees want to know they can contribute something unique to their job that nobody else can. Take feedback you hear from outside sources (or even clients) directly to the employee to let them know their unique approaches aren’t going unnoticed. A simple boost in confidence can reassure someone what they’re doing is excellent, and might even encourage them to try new techniques to make their performance even greater.

    How to Give Employee Feedback

    The best way to help your employees thrive is through ongoing, real-time feedback. This on-the-spot approach is proving the annual performance review way wrong. Employees need to know how they’re progressing on projects and developing in real-time, not six months from now.

    Read more about the positive turnouts of real-time performance management!

    New processes take a long time to implement, but here are six steps to get started on a real-time feedback plan with your teams:

    Be specific.

    Effective employee feedback is specific. Employees want to get something out of your feedback that they can act on. If you keep telling Jonathan from Design he’s not communicating well with his team, how do you expect him to fix it the way you want him to? Provide goal-oriented feedback and tie it to an action.

    “Jonathan, I’d like you to work on your communication style with team members by telling them when you’re working remotely and when you plan to take a break. This way we all know when to get a hold of you, or when you’re going heads down.”

    Make it happen.

    Real-time feedback ensures changes get made the day things happen instead of days or weeks down the road. Implementing a real-time feedback flow of communication lowers turnover rates by 14.9%, and it informs your team members of their good or wrong-doings right away so they don’t have to scrape their brain later.

    Be prepared.

    Don’t schedule a performance conversation without preparing yourself. You want your employees to take these meetings seriously and actually gain insight from them. Write down a list of strengths, weaknesses, improvements and potential goals to work on as you see them. 67% of employees feel engaged when their manager focuses on their strengths and positive characteristics. This is the perfect medley for a conversation that drives actual results.

    Be constructive.

    Mentor and lead your employees by showing them how to improve instead of just telling them. In fact, 57% of employees prefer corrective feedback instead of praise. Be tactical in your communication when guiding employees through processes. Tell them specific details on what went wrong, and based off your experience, how it can be bettered. This shows you support them and allows for brainstorming between you and your employees. Two brains are better than one!


    Require your employees to prepare questions and feedback before their reviews, just like you do as the leader of the meeting. Their individual insight is just as important to the improvement of company processes and direction as your feedback is to them. Build off each other’s concerns, so your conversation is mutually beneficial. Set goals based on what hasn’t worked, and what has gone exceptionally well. This helps you both understand how one another work and what you each expect in the future.

    End on positivity.

    Negative feedback is vital for character building and gaining a basic understanding of what isn’t turning the wheels for anyone, but ending on a positive note is the most important. This helps invigorate your performance conversations with balance. After both parties have given their sides of feedback, asked questions, and expressed concerns, finish the conversation with the “what’s next” piece. Goal-setting focuses the attention on improving behavior, in turn improving engagement and motivation to work toward something new.

    Are you a good leader or a bad manager? Download this guide to assess your leadership effectiveness!

    Simple but powerful employee engagement and appreciation tips in our latest guide: Click To Tweet

  • How to Keep Employees Motivated at Work

    Did you know?

    • 58% of employees say that giving recognition is how leaders could do more to improve engagement.
    • 50% of employees believe being thanked by managers not only improves their relationship, but also built trust with their higher-ups.
    • 69% of employees would work harder if they felt their efforts were better appreciated.
    • Only 14% of organizations provide managers with the necessary tools for rewards and recognition.
    • Companies with recognition programs that are highly effective at improving employee engagement have 31% lower voluntary turnover.

    The sun is shining through your office doors and vacation days are blocking up the calendar. It’s tough to keep your employees (and sometimes yourself) motivated through those sunny months. In fact, workplace productivity commonly drops 20% during this time of year. Tricky, but not impossible. Try these three tactics to get your workplace turbo-charged for summer business.

    • Call back to culture.

      The office is looking a little sparse with many people coming and going on vacation, but there is no wrong time to think about company culture building. Whether you have 20 employees or 150, make an effort to engage your teams. Tight communication is always a vital staple to office culture, but when attendance is unreliable, it can make shifting responsibilities and deadlines a little shaky.

      Incorporate daily huddles or required morning meetings with teams or departments to stay extra on top of your team’s needs and shortcomings. Get creative with it and have each team or member (depending on company size) tell a funny joke, say something their most excited to do that day or give a fun fact with their list of work updates to shake up the meeting and make it interesting.

    • Align priorities.

      Before summer months or busy personal time off for the holidays, make sure to align priorities with your teams, both new and old. According to Gallup studies, only 4 out of 10 employees know their company’s brand and what the company stands for. Even if your seasoned employees have heard the company policies, restrictions and expectations a thousand and one times, it’s never a bad idea to resurface the “rule book” before the office flees for beach hour.

      This is also a great time for HR to evaluate company policies to ensure they still align with company goals and shifts. Have you heard from several team members the communication policy could use touching up? Pick through the rule book with a fine-tooth comb and have each team members sign the new agreement before summer time hits. This keeps everyone’s mind in focus and ready for another knockout season!

    • Explore the outdoors.

      We all need a break from the desk and computer screen to catch an extra dose of Vitamin D before the sun disappears. Give employees the opportunity to take a 20-minute group walk every day as an added benefit for working hard through the summer days. This takes the pressure off and actually results in higher productivity, engagement and quality of work.

    How to Start Effective Performance Coaching

    What is performance coaching? The concept is defined as the continual process aiming to build and maintain effective employee and supervisory relationships. When managers and leaders are advocates for their employees, they can more easily develop and encourage their employees to be high-performing, engaged players on the team.

    Read more to see the incredible payoffs of having an effective performance coaching process in-line!

    So what do you think? We’re going to keep adding to this page until we’ve compiled the largest collection of employee engagement, feedback and appreciation content out there! What do you want to see added?

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Michael Heller

Posted By Michael Heller

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