What Unique Employee Engagement Initiatives Positively Impact Company Culture?

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    CHRO Daily

    What Unique Employee Engagement Initiatives Positively Impact Company Culture?

    Discovering unique ways to boost employee engagement is crucial for nurturing a vibrant company culture. We've compiled fifteen innovative initiatives from CEOs, Chief People Officers, and other leaders, ranging from celebrating with friday high fives to sharing client impact for team motivation. These insights offer a glimpse into the creative strategies that have successfully fostered a sense of community and motivation within their organizations.

    • Celebrate with Friday High Fives
    • Empower Choices in Team Restructuring
    • Implement a Culture Playbook
    • Foster Peer-to-Peer Learning
    • Embrace Humanity in the Workplace
    • Unite Teams with 'Check Bulk Action'
    • Socialize with After Work Parties
    • Exchange Skills in 'Skills Swap' Program
    • Personalize Employee Assistance Programs
    • Spark Innovation with Quarterly Pitches
    • Encourage Creativity with 'Innovation Hour'
    • Celebrate Diversity with 'Culture Club'
    • Promote Self-Leadership for Work Joy
    • Support Mental Health and Recognize Effort
    • Share Client Impact for Team Motivation

    Celebrate with Friday High Fives

    Friday High Five - Every Friday at 9 AM, we have a company-wide ritual called the "Friday High Five." It's a unique employee engagement initiative that has fostered a positive, appreciative culture within our organization, and it is all done via MS Teams.

    The concept is simple - anyone in the company, from executives to front-line employees, can give a public "high five" to a peer or manager who went above and beyond that week. It could be for stellar work on a project, providing exceptional customer service, embodying our company values, or going the extra mile to help a teammate.

    The Friday High Five has had a profoundly positive impact on our culture in several ways:

    1. It promotes an attitude of gratitude and appreciation, reminding us to acknowledge the efforts of others regularly.

    2. It boosts morale and motivation as people feel their hard work is being noticed and valued.

    3. It reinforces our company values by shining a light on those exemplifying them through their actions.

    4. It fosters a sense of community and connection as we learn about the successes happening across teams.

    5. It provides an opportunity for real-time recognition, which research shows is a powerful driver of engagement.

    What began as a simple practice has become a beloved tradition that brings our distributed workforce together every week.

    Nicole Smartt Serres
    Nicole Smartt SerresSMB Advisor & Investor

    Empower Choices in Team Restructuring

    Working with a software engineering team after a major release, we were preparing to transition the software from on-premises to the cloud—a journey that would require some dramatic changes to the team and how it was organized. We wrote three strategy memos—business, technical, and organizational—shared them with everyone, and then had deep discussions with the next two layers of leadership. One of the key components of the people memo was giving people the option to share what team they wanted to be on in the emerging organizational structure. Rather than do it 'to them' in the proverbial smoke-filled room, we had an actual survey process. People made their top three choices, and we were able to get most people their first or second choice, in particular top talent. Survey results went through the roof, and turnover remained low.

    Nathan Deily
    Nathan DeilyChief People Officer, nth Venture

    Implement a Culture Playbook

    During a turnaround situation, we implemented a Culture Playbook. It was about far more than just following a set of recommendations—it was about fundamentally reshaping how an organization operates at its core. The thoughtful rollout drove profound positive impacts on our company culture.

    First, it realigned the workforce around a unified vision for success. Too often, misalignment and confused priorities cause cultures to become fragmented. The Playbook provided a clear, motivating set of strategic objectives that everyone from the C-suite to the frontlines could rally behind. This collective sense of purpose was a powerful cultural catalyst.

    Next, the Playbook redesigned antiquated workflows and processes in a way that restored meaning to people's day-to-day work. When employees saw how their efforts laddered up to tangible goals, it instilled a rejuvenated sense of impact. Clearing away inefficiencies also reduced burnout and frustration.

    Critically, the Playbook implementation distributed ownership and accountability for cultural change throughout the organization. It wasn’t another top-down initiative but a grassroots transformation where people had a real voice. As they helped co-create the new cultural norms, buy-in and emotional investment soared.

    The Playbook enabled more fluid cross-functional collaboration by aligning different groups around common systems and metrics. This tore down damaging silos and promoted teaming behaviors.

    Perhaps most powerfully, the successful rollout provided the company with a commitment to continuously improving and truly valuing its people's experiences. Earnest follow-through on the Playbook demonstrated leadership's resolve to make the workplace an engaging, fulfilling environment that finally delivered our first three quarters of profitability.

    Ultimately, the Culture Playbook served as a catalyst for an invigorated, cohesive culture united by shared purpose, sustainable practices, and deeper employee belonging. It was both a strategic realignment and a human revitalization under one transformative blueprint.

    Lorna Hagen
    Lorna HagenManaging Partner, Culture Playbook Partners

    Foster Peer-to-Peer Learning

    One unique employee engagement initiative that had a positive impact on company culture was a "Peer-to-Peer" learning program. Empowering employees to share their skills and expertise by organizing employee-led workshops, lunch-and-learn sessions, or TED Talk-style talks was extremely valuable in transforming our siloed company into a learning organization. These employee-led sessions (with leadership/manager-level sponsorship) included everything from coding tutorials to agile project management lunch-and-learns to mindfulness sessions.

    Encouraging employees to teach each other not only fosters a culture of continuous learning but also strengthens bonds within the team, promotes inclusivity, and facilitates information flow and knowledge sharing. It reinforced the idea that everyone plays a valuable role in reaching the strategic goals of an organization and that diversity of thought and experience is celebrated and encouraged. It also encourages employees to develop a deeper understanding of how their roles fit into the larger organization and appreciate the contributions of their colleagues in other functional areas.

    Hamsa Suresh
    Hamsa SureshEntrepreneur-In-Residence, Future of Work

    Embrace Humanity in the Workplace

    We first regard employees as humans, acknowledging that when they see themselves as human beings, they naturally extend that humanity to their interactions with colleagues. This shift in perspective, from viewing each other as mere workers to recognizing the full spectrum of human experience within the workplace, is transformative. It leads to a culture where empathy, respect, and genuine connection thrive. As a result, employee engagement skyrockets as individuals feel valued, understood, and supported in both their professional and personal growth.

    Andrew Barry
    Andrew BarryCEO, Curious Lion

    Unite Teams with 'Check Bulk Action'

    We recently introduced a 'Check Bulk Action' initiative, a monthly challenge where teams collectively tackle a large-scale project outside their usual scope. It's a voluntary program that encourages employees to brainstorm and implement a significant change in any area they're passionate about, be it in operations, community outreach, or even workplace improvements.

    The impact was immediate. Teams became more cohesive as they worked towards a common goal, breaking down silos and fostering a sense of camaraderie. It wasn't just about the work; it was about creating something meaningful together. This shared purpose sparked conversations, laughter, and a wave of fresh ideas that enriched our company culture.

    Most importantly, 'Check Bulk Action' became a platform for recognition. Employees saw their ideas come to life, and their achievements were celebrated company-wide. This not only boosted morale but also instilled a sense of ownership and pride in our collective work environment, making our office a place where everyone feels valued and eager to contribute.

    Phil McParlane
    Phil McParlaneFounder & CEO, 4DayWeekJobs

    Socialize with After Work Parties

    After conducting a global employee engagement survey, we discovered that we need to step up our game when it comes to communication and collaboration. So, we came up with an awesome solution - the 'After Work Party' concept! This idea has been such a big hit that we've even digitalized it during the COVID-19 crisis. It's now a fantastic platform that helps to strengthen the network within the company and boost communication and collaboration. Encouraging employee engagement through initiatives like the After Work Party helps to create a positive work culture and foster a sense of community and camaraderie. By promoting socialization among colleagues in a relaxed and informal setting, we can build stronger relationships among team members, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity.

    Nouman Aziz
    Nouman AzizEmployee Experience & Culture Expert, KSB Company

    Exchange Skills in 'Skills Swap' Program

    A unique employee engagement initiative we implemented with great success was a 'Skills Swap' program. In this program, employees were encouraged to share their expertise or hobbies with their colleagues through workshops or informal sessions. For example, an employee skilled in graphic design might offer a workshop on basic design, while another colleague skilled in meditation could lead mindfulness sessions during lunch breaks. Employees were free to present topics they were passionate about, which spread a sense of empowerment and community. This initiative not only provided opportunities for skill development and personal growth but also strengthened bonds between team members. It showcased diverse talents and interests within the company while promoting a culture of continuous learning. Moreover, this program had a positive impact on the company culture. It enriched our workplace environment with shared knowledge and experiences.

    Saikat Ghosh
    Saikat GhoshAssociate Director of HR & Business, Technource

    Personalize Employee Assistance Programs

    At Omniconvert, we took a unique approach to boost employee engagement and positively shift our company culture. We rolled out personalized assistance programs tailored to meet the individual needs of our team members. This initiative provides a range of support, including mental health resources, opportunities for professional growth, and adaptable work schedules. Our aim was to create an environment where our employees feel supported both personally and professionally. This move has led to a stronger, more connected team and aligns perfectly with our goal of improving Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

    Valentin Radu
    Valentin RaduCEO & Founder, Blogger, Speaker, Podcaster, Omniconvert

    Spark Innovation with Quarterly Pitches

    We recognized the need to combat isolation in our fast-paced environment. Our unique 'Project Spark' initiative tackles this. Employees submit ideas across departments every quarter to address challenges, from workflow improvements to customer service strategies. The fun part? They pitch these ideas in a 'Shark Tank'-style competition! It not only empowers employees but also fosters friendly competition and excitement. We are winning ideas, resources, and a budget, with the presenting team leading the project. This ownership breeds accomplishment and demonstrably boosts morale and engagement. 'Project Spark' isn't just about efficiency gains; it breaks down departmental silos, encouraging collaboration and a unified company spirit. It's a fantastic way to unleash our collective creativity and empower employees to shape our future.

    Dhari Alabdulhadi
    Dhari AlabdulhadiCTO and Founder, Ubuy Kuwait

    Encourage Creativity with 'Innovation Hour'

    One new employee engagement initiative I launched to improve our company culture was the 'Innovation Hour.' During this weekly time slot, employees were encouraged to disconnect from their normal work duties for one hour of the working week, in order to think creatively or to explore a topic that was new to them. The initiative aimed at promoting creativity, lifelong learning, and collaboration across departments.

    During this time, employees might work on a project not directly related to their daily duties, take an online course, or work with colleagues from other departments to brainstorm ideas to overcome a problem we were facing. We also invited guest speakers, conducted workshops, and hackathons to foster innovation.

    The results were impressive. Not only did this result in a number of new project ideas and improvements to existing processes, but it also helped the employees feel more valued and more energized by the opportunity to express and explore their interests and ideas. In other words, the 'Innovation Hour' contributed to the creation of a more dynamic and engaging company culture, one in which innovation and personal development were seen as integral to our identity. It became a mainstay of the company's engagement program, providing support and a signal that we cared about the personal growth of our employees.

    Mark McShane
    Mark McShaneFounder, Mental Health First Aid Course

    Celebrate Diversity with 'Culture Club'

    One unique employee engagement initiative that I have implemented in the past is a monthly 'Culture Club' event. This event was dedicated to promoting and celebrating diversity and inclusivity within our company culture. Each month, we would choose a different theme or topic related to diversity, such as LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, or disability awareness. The Culture Club committee (comprised of employees from different departments and backgrounds) would then plan and execute an event centered around that theme. These events ranged from educational workshops, open discussions, guest speakers, movie screenings, or even cultural food fairs. The goal was to create a safe and welcoming space for employees to learn, share their experiences, and celebrate our differences. The impact of this initiative on company culture was significant. It fostered a sense of belonging and understanding among employees, breaking down barriers and promoting empathy. It also showed our commitment to inclusivity as a company, which was highly valued by both current and potential employees. One unexpected result of the Culture Club events was the increased collaboration and teamwork among employees from different departments. The events brought people together who may not have interacted otherwise, creating new connections and breaking down silos. This not only improved overall communication and collaboration within the company but also resulted in more innovative ideas and solutions.

    Evan Tunis
    Evan TunisPresident, Florida Healthcare Insurance

    Promote Self-Leadership for Work Joy

    Engagement at work is an inside-out experience—meaning that individuals must own their own engagement, and as they do, they are more likely to positively influence the energy and performance of others. To this end, our organization uses a foundational interactive learning experience known as Self-Leadership that develops the mindset, language, and practices required to help individuals take personal responsibility for their own work joy and engagement.

    "Work Joy is my job!" is a slogan that is taught in Self-Leadership, but more importantly, it is reinforced by proactive coach-like one-to-ones with managers. Here, employees report on their high-performance/energy experiences, the use of their strengths in their role, as well as areas where their energy and performance are not so strong. Managers coach them to call forth their own strengths and resources to lift their own energy and performance—and thus, their engagement as well.

    The Self-Leadership learning experience also includes the opportunity for employees to identify their unique purpose and contribution, and how it aligns with the needs of the team and organization. This creates a powerful sense of meaning and belonging, which, when coupled with the Self-Leadership skill set, lifts energy, performance, engagement, and proactive accountability in incredible ways! Turnover is nearly non-existent in our organization, and people truly love their work.

    DeAnna Murphy
    DeAnna MurphyChief People and Culture Officer, Thrivin

    Support Mental Health and Recognize Effort

    One unique employee engagement initiative that has positively impacted our company culture involves a comprehensive approach to supporting our team's mental health and recognizing their hard work. We conduct personalized one-on-one meetings with employees to discuss their needs and provide them with the opportunity to take mental health breaks. When needed, we offer flexible paid time off (PTO), allowing employees to rest and recharge, as long as their responsibilities are managed.

    Additionally, we reward our employees with monetary incentives for exemplary performance. This not only boosts morale but also motivates everyone to maintain high standards in their work. This approach has fostered a supportive and productive work environment, where employees feel valued and motivated to contribute to the company's success.

    Luke Beerman
    Luke BeermanOwner, Freedom Fence

    Share Client Impact for Team Motivation

    I find there is nothing more powerful for getting team members engaged and motivated than understanding the impact that their individual work has on a client company. It gives an individual purpose in executing the tasks that otherwise might not be so exciting. What we have implemented: recording the initial intake meetings with our client companies to be later played for team members who weren't included in the original meeting, but who are critical in the execution of the project. This way, rather than me or someone else telling them how important this project is for the client, they are actually hearing it directly from the client who is feeling the pain. Our team members get to hear, from the client, how this project will directly and positively impact the client's organization, the company's growth, and/or profitability, etc. They will also hear how our client could be negatively affected if the project is not executed successfully. Again, there is nothing better to get team members engaged and motivated with a sense of ownership, than feeling real importance and purpose in what we do.

    Mark Thibodeau
    Mark ThibodeauVice President Automotive, Americas, Transearch, International