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If you’ve been worried about employee engagement lately, you’re in good company. Seventy-eight percent of business leaders say engagement is not only an important but urgent priority. And it’s no secret why: disengagement costs the U.S. economy more than $500 billion per year.

But when most companies sit down to discuss what to do about improving engagement, all they can think about is the expense — Google offers its employees free breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Airbnb gives its staffers free vacations, and Facebook provides free housing to its interns.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d never knock one of these perks, nor would I turn them down. They’re fit for a queen and all her subjects. But understand that you don’t need to blow your budget to improve employee engagement. Just consider the following 12 strategies to better engage staff:

Create an authentic mission

Employee engagement can often be tied to how staff feels about a company’s mission. And if that mission is authentic, it can inspire them to work toward achieving your organizational goals. In fact, 73 percent of employees who work for purpose-driven companies say they’re engaged — compared to just 23 percent who don’t.

Give staff a voice

It’s common practice for organizations to conduct employee satisfaction surveys. But these only happen once a year and are often too broad to get a true picture of engagement. Give staff a greater voice by seeking continual feedback. Ask questions about morale, career progression, and growth opportunities — and then act on your findings.

Incentivize goals

Encourage a little healthy competition among staff with performance incentives for achieving certain goals. Tickets to a sporting event, dinner for two, or even a gift card to big box chain are all relatively inexpensive options to incentivize and engage your direct reports.

Encourage collaboration

Collaboration is probably one of the most important facets to any successful business. It not only increases employee engagement but improves creativity and innovation. And with nearly 40 percent of workers believing their employers don’t collaborate enough, your efforts could actually help retain and attract talent.

Emphasize work-life balance

It can be quite challenging for employees to strike the right balance between work and personal life. If you make sure both areas are receiving enough attention, you not only help staff stay healthy but keep their engagement levels up. Speak to your team to determine what you can do to support a better work-life balance.

Allow for flexibility

Of all the benefits available, workplace flexibility topped the list for 75 percent of employees. After starting a flex program, companies often experience greater employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Instead of enforcing a rigid schedule, consider allowing employees to make their own schedules — with a stipulation, of course. They must put in the required hours.

Focus on fun

People don’t often associate fun with work, and at many companies, the two are mutually exclusive. But here’s the thing: there are a number of ways to incorporate fun into the workday without disrupting work itself. Hold contests, scavenger hunts, and after-work events. Celebrate “national” days; March alone has Banana Cream Pie Day, Pound Cake Day, Oreo Cookie Day, Write Your Story Day, etc. Just make the office fun for staff.

Offer more than money

. No one’s going to turn down a raise, but there are plenty of other ways to show your appreciation for employees and improve engagement in the process. Consider giving extra time-off or a prime parking spot for a job well done. Offer up tickets to a sporting event, concert, or even movie. Gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops can also show you care about staff.

Celebrate your staff

You already know you should be putting some effort into recognizing staff contributions. But you should also just celebrate them for being part of the team. While how you do this is entirely up to you, I suggest you look for specific occasions to take time out of the day for a little revelry, like birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, etc.

Make philanthropy a priority

Philanthropy and volunteerism have become core tenants in building employee engagement initiatives. Why? Research has shown that 67 percent of people would rather work for a company supporting a social cause. But don’t just pick any charity. To drive deeper engagement, your choice of nonprofit must align to both corporate and employee interests.

Motivate the TED way

Bringing in a motivational speaker is a great way to remind staff just how much their work contributes to achieving organizational goals — and can go a long way to improving employee engagement. Consider arranging for a motivational speaker to come in every few months. Just make sure the speaker fits the culture of your company.

Experiment with initiatives

What works for one team won’t always work for another, so play around with different engagement strategies and activities to determine which ones resonate most with your staff. Given time, you’ll find a variety of options that will improve engagement levels across the entire company.

If you’d like additional strategies and activities for improving employee engagement, contact us! We’d be more than happy to help you in any way possible.