We talk about employee engagement here frequently because, fundamentally, if your people aren’t engaged, your business will suffer. Engagement runs the gamut from employees having purposeful work to do, receiving flexibility, and feeling valued to having fun. I’m not talking about simply giving your staff the opportunity to blow off steam. Rather, organizing entertaining virtual activities can boost morale during an era when it’s needed more than ever. Here are four suggestions that can be used on video conferencing formats like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangouts, and the like.
1. Virtual Happy Hour
According to Entrepreneur, virtual happy hours are on the rise to the tune of 296 percent, and that was back in April of 2020. To say they are popular is an understatement. We’ve known for a long time that social isolation is damaging to your mental health, and that was before the pandemic. Gathering with co-workers online for a few cocktails or beverages of your choice can foster camaraderie and good will. Plus, it’s probably safer than driving home from a bar.
2. Scavenger Hunt
Hunting and gathering is baked into our DNA, passed down from our earliest of ancestors. Naturally, scavenger hunts are fun. How do you conduct one virtually?
“Setting up a virtual scavenger hunt is pretty simple,” says Jessica Chen of teambuilding.com, who recommends the following steps:
Compile a List of Items and Challenges
Start with what items (and pets) employees may have lying around the house. Include simple challenges like taking selfies with a pet, baking cookies, or performing a handstand. After assembling your list, assign point values to each item and challenge. The more difficult items or challenges are worth more points.
“The best digital scavenger hunt challenges are fun to do and have results that are easy to photograph or video,” she adds.
Gather Your Players
Once the items are finalized, review the rules with your team. Set a timeframe for the scavenger hunt, and allow players a half-hour to complete the list. Once everyone understands the rules, give them the list.
Send Them Off
People don’t need to be on camera during the game, but leave the chat box open for any questions or comments. When items are discovered or challenges complete, players can mark that entry by taking a photo or video. Players must submit completed entries by the end of the game.
Crown the Victor
Once time is up, review each player’s submissions and tally up their points. The highest score wins, but in the case of a tie, give a tie-breaker challenge. Having fun is a great incentive, but so are prizes for first through third place, such as gift cards or allowing people to work a half-day.
3. Halloween Costume Contest
It’s October, and a Halloween costume contest couldn’t be more timely. Again, inspire people to participate by offering prizes. Have categories in mind, including funniest costume, best ensemble costume, best timely costume, scariest costume, and so on. Your video conferencing platform will have either a private chat or polling feature (or both) that can be used for voting. It may behoove you to set a dress code to discourage inappropriate attire.
4. Kids Commentary
It is officially the rule and not the exception that kids interrupt your Zoom work meetings. If they’re not interrupting, they appear in your background whether it’s a virtual one or not. How could this not happen with so many children remote learning? No matter your employment level–entry level or CEO–your kid will pop in to say whatever’s on their mind, and everyone understands. So embrace it. Hold a monthly Kids Commentary, where your child sits with you in an unobtrusive manner to discuss a topic like what they learned today or how they’re coping with the pandemic. Kids say the darndest things, which are often humorous and add requisite levity. Perhaps giving them this forum will reduce the number of drop-ins.
There are but a handful of ideas for virtual activities, and if you are going to do them, go all in. Be intentional and enthusiastic so that it rubs off on your employees. In addition, make this part of your larger engagement strategy because if done right, your people will remember your efforts and may be motivated to stay with you long-term.