For some companies, employee engagement seems overwhelming. They hear about surveys, programs, new terms, and do their best to keep pace with changes and emerging trends in HR. We don’t want to oversimplify—because there are a lot of factors that go into engagement—but sometimes it’s important to get back to the basics. At its core, employee engagement is just about fostering connection between workers and the company they work for. There’s no better way to do that than through employee engagement games.
Employee engagement games are exactly what they sound like. They’re games that encourage staff to work together, build relationships, foster connection, and engage in activities that they wouldn’t ordinarily participate in at the office. They give workers a different outlet to interact with their peers, and engagement games can have a lasting impact on the relationships and culture at a company. In this blog post we’ll share some of the games that you can take advantage of, as well as some of the reasons why employee engagement games are so impactful.
What employee engagement games should your company play?
We’ve got some broad suggestions that we can share, but we won’t prescribe a specific set of games for every company. Each organization has a unique culture, as well as different personalities and interests that will impact what games would be the most impactful for them. For example, workers at a marketing agency may want to play in much different games than workers at a gaming company. Expectations will vary greatly by industry and culture.
Before you start with any employee engagement games, we recommend doing brief surveys to get a feel for what your workers would want to participate in. It’s common that employee outings take place of an ordinary work day, but sometimes workers will try to skip the team event day if they don’t feel very connected to the group or activity. Your goal is to make sure that you have as high of a team participation rate as possible. Since these engagement games are meant to foster connection, they’re usually geared toward smaller groups and cohorts at an organization. These smaller group sizes mean that you’ll have a better chance of really finding out what games appeal to your team. Your best bet may even be to give a range of options and let everyone vote on them.
So, what are some of the common employee engagement games?
The right engagement games are ones that even a group of friends who have known each other for years would play. The goal with games is to break the ice, get employees to let their guard down, and make sure that any of the ordinary workplace dynamics and politics aren’t interfering with the bonding event. Here’s some games to consider, many of which may be familiar:
- Escape rooms
- Sport tournaments (like dodgeball, sand volleyball, etc.)
- Scavenger hunts
- Ax throwing
- Art or cooking classes
- Trivia, board games, or bingo
- Secret santa or gift giving (like for birthdays)
- Guess the baby picture game
- Volunteering somewhere in the community
- Two truths and a lie
- Three-legged race
- Puzzle race
- PowerPoint party
- Guess who
- Improvisation games
- Karaoke night
- Arcade games
- Golf or disc golf
As you can see, we did list a few options that aren’t games (like gift exchanges, volunteering in the community, and others). We included these options, because though they aren’t games, they accomplish the purpose that employee engagement games are after—fostering connection among workers.
It’s also important to remember that these games and suggestions don’t only need to be done one time. If anything, it’s best to have these activities throughout the year. You can find out what works best for your team and what workers are looking for, but a quarterly or bi-quarterly cadence is a great way to start out. Some activities (like gift giving for birthdays) can be done throughout the year. If there’s a way for you to include certain small activities throughout the year, you’re especially like to build an additional sense of community and connection among your employees.
Is there anything to consider while planning employee engagement games?
There are some things to keep in mind while you’re planning employee events and surveying workers to see what their preferences are. We mentioned considering personality types and company culture earlier, but you should also consider:
- The timing of events: You want to plan events during a time of the year where it’s most likely that the majority of workers will be around. This means that you should especially avoid major holidays or periods that are likely to include lots of people on vacation (like spring break or certain parts of the summer). If you can, it’s also ideal to plan your event during working hours. If the event is built into part of the working day, you’re much more likely to get a high rate of participation.
- Find a way to include workers that are remote or in different cities: If you work on a team where workers are spread across locations, it may be unlikely you’re able to get everyone together. Some companies plan for yearly or quarterly offsites to get everyone at one location, but that isn’t feasible for everyone. If you do have workers that are remote or in different locations, try to include one remote-friendly event, and schedule a team event in every city where there’s a hub of workers. Each hub can then decide on their preferred event and report back to the larger group about how everything went.
- Don’t expect workers to pay: This is very important and one of the main things to remember. The purpose of employee engagement events are so that workers are only focused on having a good time, getting to know each other better, and stepping out of their daily work routines for fun team bonding events. Employees won’t be very excited if the cost is shouldered by them. That will make it feel much less like the company is sponsoring something. It’s one thing to give workers a budget they can work within, but don’t expect them to pay for the event. (They can of course go out for dinner or drinks after the event for some extra socializing.)
As you can see, employee engagement games and events are exciting, fun, and something to look forward to. You just have to remember to be thoughtful, considerate of employees’ time, and to not let games and events be rare occurrences. Workers want opportunities to connect, and building those opportunities into your yearly planning will pay huge dividends on employee morale, connection, and company culture. Lots of job seekers specifically look for companies that excel in those categories.
Are you looking to talk to an employee engagement specialist?
Whether you want to brainstorm more engagement games, events, or strategies, Workify is here to help. We can also help you create an engagement program and fine tune your employee experience surveys. All of our surveys are connected to our Engagement Intelligence Platform, giving you the latest in employee listening and making it almost feel like you have an in-house analytics team.
All of our programs and surveys are also backed by I/O psychologists and our team of specialists will help you navigate our Engagement Intelligence Platform so that you understand all of your data and know what to do with it. Connect with us today to learn more and get started.