When employees are engaged at work, it’s good for them and for your small business. Research from professional development company Dale Carnegie found that employees who are more engaged and excited about their jobs are willing to put in more effort to help their business achieve its goals.
Since the fortunes of a small business are tied to employee performance, it’s important to find ways to engage your team. Gatherings, recognition and other activities that bring your team closer together can help, particularly when they take place outside the confines of your office.
Here’s how to create a more engaged team.
Build Team Spirit
Team building outings can create trust, support camaraderie and fuel better collaboration — all because they give employees a chance to get to know one another. These types of events can also help you, as a small business owner, develop stronger relationships with your staff.
Escape rooms and improv workshops are team-building outings that have increased in popularity in recent years. Laser tag, go-kart racing and scavenger hunts are other activities that get people out of the office and energized. If you’re looking for more relaxed activities, take your employees to a play or sporting event, sponsor a cooking class or arrange for a trivia night.
Encouraging employees to participate in team sports boosts engagement and has a positive impact on health as well. Non-contact sports like softball, kickball and bowling can get staff up and moving while building better connections with co-workers.
For employees who are interested, set up teams to play in local sports leagues. If your budget allows, have T-shirts made for members to build team spirit. Ask employees who prefer not to play to come and cheer on the company team. You can also go for a more low-involvement approach to include those who may not want to play team sports. Organize a walking club that takes walking breaks during the workday or after work to get energy flowing and build relationships.
Employees want to be recognized when their hard work helps your small business reach an important goal. Acknowledging these contributions can go a long way toward increasing engagement. Making the effort to organize a celebration outside of the office demonstrates that you truly appreciate their work. This positive reinforcement will fuel future engagement.
Lunch or an afternoon event at a local restaurant or event space is a good way to express your appreciation. It also gives people a change of scenery and a break from the office. If your team can attend an evening event (without putting a crimp in family responsibilities), consider dinner at a nice restaurant. Either way, use the occasion to hand out awards to people who go the extra mile.
Offer Volunteer Opportunities
Helping those in need can bring people together with a common glow that comes from giving back. This kind of effort also communicates that your small business values the community, which may also make your employees more engaged.
You can organize a time for your team to work at a food bank, clean up local outdoor spaces or help a children’s organization. Be sure to tap into your employees’ ideas for volunteer events and consider doing an anonymous poll to select the event. Volunteering is a wonderful way to engage your team, but some team members may have strong feelings about the best cause to support. Avoid any organizations with religious ties or anything controversial.
Once you’ve decided on a volunteering activity, ask a few employees to serve as ambassadors if they are interested. This ensures all relevant details are communicated and that those who want to participate will have the chance to.
Provide Professional Development
Give employees the chance to enhance their skill sets outside the office. Encourage them to attend professional development events, such as local seminars, workshops and continuing education classes. They can put their newly acquired skills to the test in their roles, helping fuel your small business growth.
Also, invest in sending employees to conferences and events that pertain to their role and your industry. It not only offers them an opportunity for professional development, it helps to increase awareness by getting your business name in front of others.
After your team out-of-office activities, ask your employees how they enjoyed them and get their feedback on how future events could be changed or improved. Taking their opinions into account is one of the best ways to ensure you continue to hold outings that spur employee engagement.