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5. Plant a Virtual Team Garden

With the rise of working from home in 2020 came the rise of the house plant. Never before has there been such an interest in growing and nurturing plants in homes (and home offices). Why not encourage the trending habit, and add it to your list of virtual employee engagement ideas?

Provide each employee with the essential ingredients and equipment to raise a plant: a pot with soil, seeds, and instructions for their plant variety. Then, schedule check-ins with your team to share your plant’s progress, problem-solve anything not going well, and talk about the experience.

6. Host Your Own Ted Talks

Whether you incorporate Ted Talk-style presentations into existing meetings, or set them up as individual events, they’re a fantastic way for employees to get to know each other and feel connected on a more personal level. When it comes to virtual engagement activities, this is one that might surprise and inspire employees.

Encourage employees to speak on a topic they’re knowledgeable and passionate about. It might be a significant life experience that’s shaped their path, a skill they’ve learned and practiced, or perhaps explanation of something they do in their work that they think is misconceived or not fully understood.

In terms of leadership and employee engagement, use these “Ted Talks” as an opportunity for leaders to share wisdom they've gained and experiences that can be beneficial to their teams. Obstacles they’ve overcome, personal stories that informed their career choices, and life lessons they’ve learned along the way are great subject matter.

One way you can do this is through Paylocity’s Video feature. It’s a seamless integration with your payroll and HR platform, where instructional or motivational videos can be naturally shared in spaces your employees are already using for day-to-day work.

7. Run a Healthy Habit Challenge

Working remotely can unfortunately contribute to an increase in unhealthy habits, with readily available snacks as well as the appeal of potentially not getting out of pajamas until the day is well underway.

However, virtual employees can enjoy and benefit from company-led initiatives to improve their mental and physical health. Healthy habit challenges are some of the best work-from-home engagement activities because they support employees’ physical and mental health, which benefits them both personally and professionally.

Healthy habit challenges can vary greatly and encompass different aspects of health. For example, you can challenge employees to track the number of glasses of water they drink each day, or embolden them to take 20 minutes daily to do something for their mental health.

Just be wary of physical challenges that may leave out employees. If you decide to incentivize these challenges, be sure to also showcase how your organization supports employees’ health.

8. Hold Virtual Birthday Parties

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of discovering birthday cake in an office kitchen, you know how nice it can be to celebrate birthdays in the workplace!

But for virtual employees, there might not be any sort of recognition when there’s a birthday. Bring back the happy birthday party vibes by having virtual birthday parties, and rest assured this is one of the virtual employee engagement ideas your employees will love!

Hold a “surprise” meeting where colleagues celebrate the employee’s birthday and name their favorite thing about working with them. Encourage employees to send good cheer with a designated birthday channel in your team’s chat platform. And this doesn’t just apply to birthdays. Work anniversaries and other milestones are worth commemorating, too!

If your team is too big to recognize every occasion, monthly parties can still bring some much-needed cheer to the “office” and recognize multiple employees at once. Some employees might appreciate not having the full spotlight on them anyway.

To make employees feel extra celebrated, send them virtual gift cards for a coffee, movie, or something else you know they’ll enjoy with their free time.

9. Schedule Virtual Happy Hours

You’ve likely heard of virtual happy hours, but what’s important when it comes to employee engagement ideas for remote workers is that the activity is engaging. That’s to say, it’s not enough to put a happy hour on the calendar and hope employees show up. Make it fun!

And, don’t ask them to join in during their free time after work. Block off the last hour of the work day and dedicate it to your employees relaxing and enjoying each other’s virtual company.

Virtual happy hours are ideal for online games for employee engagement. Once employees “have arrived” with their choice of beverage, set up a game of trivia, ice breakers, or other games to keep them entertained and enjoying themselves while spending time with one another.

If you really want to step a virtual happy hour up a notch, mail your employees their choice of virtual craft cocktail or mocktail kits to make and enjoy during your time online together. Food based events are just as fun — try out a virtual ice cream social or even a cooking class for some delicious team bonding.

10. Show and Tell

With many virtual employees working from home, coworkers often enjoy occasional appearances made by pets, partners, or children during video calls. One of the most interesting virtual engagement activities you might host for your employees is a virtual Show and Tell.

Add your Show and Tell to a regularly scheduled team call, or create a standalone meeting. Suggest employees show something from their surroundings at home that makes their home work environment better. This will help you see different sides to your employees and get to know them better.

Employees’ personal and professional lives are inextricably linked, so it’s important to make it clear that you see them as more than just bodies filling desks.

What Virtual Employee Engagement Ideas Will You Try?

Engaged employees are the single most important asset your organization has, driving more revenue, promoting higher office morale, and bringing projects to fruition faster than employees who aren’t engaged. They’re also more communicative and more productive than their less engaged counterparts — so engaging and retaining them is critical.

However you go about engaging employees, prioritizing connection is key. Workers want to feel like they’re connected to an organization they work for, so be sure to give them the tools to communicate and collaborate with their colleagues.

With a bit of intentionality (and the right technology), you can encourage camaraderie among teams and build an engaged company culture.

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