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Jan 22, 2015

It’s no secret that employee engagement drives productivity in the workplace.

In fact, organizations with a high level of engagement reported having 21 percent higher productivity, according to research by Gallup.

In an effort to create an engaging company culture that both boosts productivity in the workplace and creates loyal employees, companies are choosing to adopt new, unique ways of keeping their workers satisfied and engaged while at work.

For companies looking for a more unique employee engagement strategy, here are five (5) out-of-the-box ways to engage employees that are trending with companies today:

1. Lunch and learn

Plenty of companies have implemented lunch and learn programs during which a presentation is given while employees eat their lunches. To take it up notch, create an opportunity for employees to lunch and learn — one-on-one — with the CEO.

Groove Commerce, an award-winning digital advertising and marketing agency, hosts “Free Friday Lunches,” where employees get one-on-one time with CEO Ethan Giffin. This is just one of the few ways Groove Commerce has established a culture that brings out the best of their creative team.

Lunching with the CEO benefits both the employee and company by boosting employee morale and improving workplace communication. During these lunches, employees are given the chance to talk to and ask questions of the CEO in a casual, fun environment — an opportunity many employees don’t otherwise get.

2. Walk a day in someone else’s shoes

What better way to help employees see the big picture than by having them walk around in another employee’s shoes?

Implementing a job swap program, which allows employees to spend time working in various offices or departments, can help them better understand the role different jobs have in driving company success.

For example, the creator of popular, naturally derived cleaning products, Method, aims to give employees a new perspective on business by having them take turns serving as the lobby receptionist one day each month.

Creating a job swap — or even a job shadow — can also aid in cross-training employees by improving their proficiency levels in roles outside of their own. Not to mention, it can save companies money associated with recruiting and hiring by preparing current employees for additional responsibility. As an added bonus, spending time in another employee’s shoes is bound to build camaraderie in the workplace!

3. Encourage healthy competition

A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. Just ask Snagajob, an hourly employment network for job seekers and employers.

This “Great Place to Work” company has created a fun-loving culture that breeds happy, engaged employees by bringing everyone together for a bit of good-natured office fun. One of their company traditions is holding “Office Olympics,” in which employees compete in a number of office-related challenges, enabling employees to let loose and improve work relationships.

A recent Globoforce survey found that 89 percent of employees believe work relationships matter to their quality of life, so encouraging camaraderie among employees is vital to maintaining an engaged workforce. Quick activities like this are easy to implement and help to maintain a creative culture, encourage team building and engage employees.

If it was good enough for Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, why not?

4. Practice Feng shui

Since we tend to spend a lot of time in the office, having an organized office space is a must. That’s where the age-old Chinese practice of Feng shui comes into play.

Feng shui is based on the concept that our environment is a mirror of what’s going on with us internally. Simply put, a messy space results in messy thoughts.

To create an environment that helps keep employees engaged in their work, encourage employees to “desk for success.” One way to do this is by regularly featuring photos of an employee’s unique workspace on the company’s social platforms.

TubeMogul, a leading enterprise software platform for digital branding and a repeat winner on “Best Place to Work” lists, practices Feng shui in the workplace with open floor plans, airy ceilings, and lots of natural light. Additional tip: keep the psychology of color in the workplace in mind when re-designing your office space!

5. Adopt a cause

Companies that serve together, grow together. It may not rhyme, but it’s true nonetheless.

Successful companies have realized the importance of philanthropy, not only for the well-being of the community, but for business. In addition to building a company’s presence within the community, charitable giving also provides networking and marketing opportunities.

Most importantly, participating in philanthropic events boosts workplace morale by helping employees feel as though they are making a difference in the community.

Textbook rental company Chegg created a program specifically designed to empower and encourage employees to make a positive contribution to their communities. What makes their strategy different? They give employees five days off every year to go out and volunteer.

Whether it’s planting trees, building houses, or serving meals to those in need, adopt a cause.

What methods does your organization use to engage its employees?