a group of funny employees at the park

Have you noticed the energy at the office dwindling? It seems like an ominous gray cloud has been parked over everyone’s cubicles for months and there is no sign of it breaking up. Sounds like your company is in desperate need of some creative employee engagement activities. 

In an era where people spend one-third of their lives working, it’s crucial to keep employees engaged. Introducing elements of fun in the office increases productivity, raises employee satisfaction and happiness, and improves loyalty. Overall, engagement impacts the company’s operations. 

Understanding the needs of your employees can boost morale, ultimately creating a work environment that everyone wants to be a part of.

No one says work has to be serious all of the time, nor should it be. So to help you add excitement to your company’s routine, I’ve put together a list of my top 10 creative employee engagement activities.

10 Employee Engagement Ideas

1 – Cook Off 

What’s more enjoyable than food and a little friendly competition? It’s as easy as adding to the company potluck. Cook-offs can be a great way to encourage creative employee engagement. It can also be a fun way to exercise team building.  

The great thing about a cook-off is that there are so many different ways to host one. You can have your employees bring in pre-made dishes, or you can spice it up by having a showdown. Preselect ingredients so everyone has to figure out what to make from those given ingredients. A few examples of office cook-off themes are chili, wings, and cookies.

Of course, there is some planning involved for something like this, but easy to do if you have the resources. You just have to pick a date, find a location, notify your staff and figure out the awards. First and foremost, put together a team of people to help organize the event. If it goes well you could make your company cook-off an annual event! Food always has a way of bringing people together and building camaraderie. Almost every city has cooking programs that do corporate events so you can find a professional supplier-facilitator for this too.

2 – Trivia Night 

Trivia competitions have been becoming more popular in the last few years. It seems like every restaurant and bar has one or two nights a week that they host trivia. Hosting your own company trivia night can be another great way to encourage creative employee engagement. You can follow the venue model and host a weekly trivia night or even a tournament if you have quite a few teams involved. 

There are so many ways you can go about hosting your own trivia night. You can use board games and apps, or you can take on the challenge of writing your own trivia questions. If you have it in the budget, there is always the option of hiring a professional trivia host to write questions and emcee for you.

3 – Coming Together with Music and Song

Music has to be my favorite creative employee engagement activity. I am a bit partial since I’ve been helping companies with Team Building Through Song® for years. But there is no denying that its fun to be a part of the energy music creates! Everyone might have different musical tastes, but no matter the genre, music evokes emotion – and what drives us more than emotion?

Through our team building process, you can have a large group write a song together, or break off into smaller groups for some competition. Once the songs are written, we record! Everyone participates, whether they offer lyric ideas, play instruments, or sing. It’s a great opportunity for everyone to come together to share ideas and create something magical.

4 – Scavenger Hunt

What could be more engaging than to bring out the kid in you and everyone on your team! Scavenger hunts can bring us back to childhood, but they can also be high tech and challenging. It can be as quick as a 15-30 minute jaunt around the office. Or you can create your own amazing race and have your staff spend all day driving around the city to find the next clue. Scavenger hunts are fun because they are incredibly customizable. And they give you the perfect opportunity to break everyone up into teams. 

5 – Office Decorating Contests 

It’s time to break out the scissors and glue, you’re going to get crafty with this one. Office decorating contests are a fun way to boost employee engagement year-round. You can plan one for every holiday or season!

When planning, make sure you are giving clear guidelines for what is acceptable decor. Even though you should let your employee’s creativity run wild, there are probably limitations to what they can tape to the walls of the office. 

The wonderful thing about decorating contests is that you can always make something out of nothing. This can be a metaphor for solving problems in your work life.

6 – Escape Rooms

Escape rooms have been popping up everywhere. You get an hour to escape from a room that your team has been locked in. In that hour, you have to think laterally while working together to finish puzzles and find clues that will help you escape. Exhilarating, right? Don’t panic! If you get stuck, there is always a professional whom you can ask for clues. 

Quite often, the escape room venues have limited capacity. If you have a large number of participants, it’s in your best interest to call ahead and book a day when enough rooms are available. They typically allow teams of 6 to 8 people. The themes of the rooms are ever-changing, so there is always a reason to go back and try another room. Go find an escape room near you and put your staff to the test. 

7 – Indoor Skydiving

Have you ever asked yourself what is it like to fly? Indoor skydiving is pretty close to it! If you have a team of thrill seekers, indoor skydiving is the perfect employee engagement activity for your company. 

Not to worry, there are highly trained professionals that put you through a crash course of hand signals and techniques for when you go into the wind tunnel. There’s nothing like the rush of adrenaline pumping through your veins to put some pep in your step. Plus you get a certificate with your name on it after you have completed your flight. It may be a little scary at first, but nothing that you can’t overcome with your work family cheering you on. 

8 – Sailing Classes 

Sailing is the epitome of working together to accomplish a task. If you’ve ever sailed, you know how it feels to have the wind rushing through your hair and the taste of sea spray on your lips. It’s quite magical to be able to use the sheer force of the wind to take you places. When it comes to sailing, communication is key so it’s great team building! Whether you are jibing or tacking, there has to be constant communication so your team knows what to do at their station. 

This fun activity is not just a quick exercise. You’ll have to dedicate at least a day with your team. Check out the American Sailing Association website to see if there are any classes near you.

9 – Local Tours 

If you’re looking for a low key but informational engagement activity, why not find a local tour to try? This could be a brewery, museum, or ghost tour. Most of the time they are relatively short and easy to get people on board for. Sometimes it’s fun to have experiences together that don’t require any high-energy tasks to complete. The most energy that may have to be exerted is walking.

10 – Community Service

Is your team passionate about a cause? Take a day to give back to your community. There are plenty of local volunteer opportunities out there that will make your team feel like they are creating their own positive impact on the world. This could be anything from cleaning up a park to working in a soup kitchen. The opportunities are endless when it comes to helping out your community. At the end of the day, you all will have a shared sense of enlightenment and purpose. 

A planning tip is to get input from your team about everyone’s interest for community service. This will help you come up with a list of organizations to volunteer with.

Bonus Ideas

1. Pet Pageant

If your team is a little bit shy, a pet pageant is a great place to start building engagement in an easy, low stakes way. To create a pet pageant, all you need to do is place a large cork-board in an easily accessible area of the office. Each employee brings in a photo of his or her pet, along with an index card with a description of the pet to pin up next to it. Make sure everyone writes their name on the index card as well, so other team members can identify who’s pet they are looking at. 

Once everyone has a chance to put their pet up on the board along with a story or detail, give everyone the chance to vote on their favorites. Make sure to include several categories so there can be lots of winners (i.e. – cutest, funniest, best smile, best hairdo, best story, etc). Have a pet pageant party for the office where the winners are announced. You might even have the party outdoors so that your team can bring in their pets to enjoy the party. People will bond over pets, building a sense of belonging for all.

2. Shout-Out Boxes 

Assign each of your employees a co-worker to make a “shout-out box” for. You can make this activity creative by providing craft items like stickers, glitter, markers and paint. This is a great opportunity to let your inner child out to play. Add music and snacks to make the atmosphere festive and playful.

Once the boxes are finished, display them in an accessible area. Encourage everyone to leave each other anonymous notes of kindness in each shout-out box. Your team can acknowledge each other for a job well done, or even just say something as simple as “thanks for being kind today.”

Make sure to bring up the boxes at meetings to keep the note making ongoing.

Take Action To Boost Employee Engagement

Now that you have a few ideas to restore your team’s passion, it’s time to start planning! Whether you use one of these ideas I’ve provided or come up with your own; taking time to celebrate shared fun experiences with your workforce will most definitely pay off. 

Take action and start planning activities for your employees to break up the dark cloud now! Your team will thank you. 

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.