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5 Ways to Boost Engagement in 2021


A happy employee working from home
Image: Kawee -
With no end in sight for working at home, many workplace leaders are looking at another challenging year and asking themselves: What do we do to keep employees engaged in the new year? After all, the physical office isn’t just about putting in time 9-5, but a place for socialization, networking, and dare I say, fun — and with no return anytime soon, workplace leaders are going to have double-down on virtual substitutes.
Here are just a few ways I found to boost the employee experience:
1. Add gamification to the workday — During the holidays, many workplaces found ways to add a bit of fun to their virtual holiday parties with festive online meeting backgrounds and interactive trivia games. But why limit the fun to holidays?
Inspired by the world of video games, workplace gamification has been on HR’s radar for some time, helpful in recruiting talent and employee onboarding. For example, Marriott International job candidates play a virtual hotel simulation called My Marriot Hotel, and professional services firm Deloitte provides a virtual office tour and onboarding orientations via a video game-like interface, as shared in this HR Trend article. And for those without a game developer on staff, gamification providers like Funifier offer platforms that allow HR and other business leaders to customize games for teams with specific objectives (like sales).
2. Rethink upskilling/reskilling — Another area that seems ready for a revamp is employee training and support. The benefits of upskilling/reskilling have included improved productivity, higher retention rates, and increased profits. But they also can boost the employee experience. Training not only shows that a workplace values its employees, but it can boost morale— which is at historical lows — across the team and can create a better workplace environment, Indeed shared in this career guide.
3. Make wellness a 2021 goal — Following a year of record burnout, many workplaces are rethinking how they address the idea of workplace wellness. In the past, I’ve discussed wellness apps, and the potential upside (and downside) of them, but they can be a useful tool for quick mental breaks. Yoga apps like Yoga Studio: Mind & Body can be good for a quick workout/yoga session during the day. For those looking to focus on mental health, the MindDoc app serves as a mental health companion and provides guided meditations and resources for better sleep and how to address other mental health issues. These are just two examples, in a vast sea of wellness apps.
4. Use video meetings for casual run-ins — One thing that many people miss from office work is the casual run-in, the brief seconds of banter while refilling coffee, etc. While many workers are feeling video meeting fatigue, video technology can prove useful in creating the virtual run-in. Ad-hoc meetings are great ways for a quick check-in and video conferencing providers like Jamm feature a communal video meeting space, where people can join on the fly.
5. Provide the work happy hour munchies (and drinks) — And when all else fails, send a box of snacks. Subscription snack company SnackNation offers a range of snack boxes that workplaces can send to an employee’s home. For the virtual happy hour, SnackNation also offers a Sips + Snacks box filled with snacks and a choice of red or white wine.
These are just a few ways workplaces are keeping their employees engaged in 2021. What things has your workplace done to boost the employee experience in 2020? Drop your ideas in the comments section below.