Taking action to engage your team doesn’t have to break the bank.

Whether you’re a growing startup competing for talent or a Fortune 500 company strengthening its employer brand, the most basic path toward a healthy, happy workforce is building meaningful, social relationships.  A hefty expense account doesn’t always equate to employee happiness.

In fact, most drivers of employee satisfaction exist between the employee and her or his manager. Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement for varying business units.  One study by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training found there are 3 key drivers of employee engagement; one’s “relationship with the immediate supervisor” is one of them.

So let’s take a look at the 3 things managers should be doing to engage your team:

1. Give Them Face Time

Managing employees effectively requires open communication. A lot of it takes patience, a lot of it takes time.

Remember, an engaged employee is a productive employee. Every company dreams of having an employee who is thoroughly ensconced in their projects and takes personal pride and responsibility in the project’s performance. Employees report that having good, open relationships with their coworkers and managers greatly increases their engagement. Build that through meaningful communication.

Give Employees Autonomy

Focus on long-term goals and let them map out their own paths to the finish line. Just remember that managers must always make time for impromptu brainstorming sessions or answering questions, if asked.  When managers trust their teams, team members learn to work with one another, boost communication levels, and can get work done faster.

Offer Mentorship

Especially for new and rising talent, professional development is considered almost as important – if not more – as compensation and benefits. A manager should always be open to questions and encourage one-on-one time with their team. Establishing a respectful relationship between manager and employee is an effective way to boost retention rates.

Deliver Immediate Feedback

Managers should regularly meet one-on-one with employees to offer and solicit feedback on projects, goals and accomplishments. This helps build an open, honest relationship and makes it easier to gauge the level of employee engagement on their teams.

2. Offer New, Exciting Challenges

Without any challenges to overcome in their jobs, many employees quickly become disheartened and lose all motivation to continue excelling. Management must challenge employees to take on new types of projects and solve complex problems on their own. There are easy ways that employees can be challenged without even opening a wallet.

Opportunities to Use and Develop Skills

Because who doesn’t like showing off? Take the time to understand the unique strengths and professional aspirations of each team member. Challenge them to utilize their skills to help the team and they will feel a greater purpose in their position.

Clearly Defined Goals

A challenge isn’t fun unless there is a clear finish line. What good is difficult work without the catharsis of meeting or exceeding a goal, whether that’s a deadline or a sales number?

It’s important to set goals that are difficult, but not unattainable. Astute managers quickly realize the difference between pushing hard and pushing too far.

3. Recognize Good Work

Rewards are the final component for management to make employee happiness a part of a company’s culture. They are a way to recognize all of the hard work, enthusiasm and positive spirit that teams bring to work. What types of rewards can companies offer their employees to keep them happy and healthy?

Catered Lunches

Have a taco bar or get some sandwiches delivered and gather in the break room or a large conference room. The simple act of getting away from the desk at lunchtime is beneficial to employee productivity and promotes social interactions.

Happy Hours

A happy hour after work every once in a while is a great way for everyone to kick back and let off some steam.

Team Building

Take the time to do something truly momentous once in a while. Here are some ways to really have some fun with employees.

Go-Kart Racing

Not the typical kiddie go-karts, these go up to 50 mph and require full safety gear. This outing is perfect for highly competitive members of the group with a need for speed.


This is the perfect mixture of sport and socialization. Employees can relax with other coworkers while waiting for their turn and then try to get the best score in the company.

Indoor Skydiving

Here’s another activity to get the blood pumping. It’s all of the sensations of flying without the actual falling. Employees are sure to get a kick out of watching management attempt to keep themselves steady.

Performance–Based Rewards

Everyone enjoys being recognized for a job well done. Oftentimes, a pat on the back or a congratulatory email can do the trick, but when employees really go above and beyond, it’s important to recognize that achievement.

Gift Cards

Nothing like treating an employee to the gift of their choice by using a gift card as a reward for excellent performance. Be sure to choose cards that fit with the employee’s lifestyle: sporting goods gift cards for an athlete; pampering gift certificates for the employee who deserves some relaxation; or an Amazon gift card when the sky is the limit.

Gadgets and Toys

Keep the office fun by rewarding teams with cool new gadgets. Go with the ever-popular iPad or iPod or shake things up by purchasing a full-sized Pac Man arcade game for the break room.

Whether it’s a hand-written congratulatory note, a donation card to an employee’s favorite charity or a company-wide trip to Las Vegas, make sure every employee knows their hard work is appreciated!