Keeping employees excited about the work they do and the teams they’re on is essential to retention and promoting a positive atmosphere at work.

Employee engagement is becoming a bigger problem than ever, with only 33% of employees in the United States saying they’re engaged at work.

But small businesses don’t always have the resources to shell out money for fancy company retreats or other expensive employee engagement ideas to get them excited about their jobs.

Instead, try these six strategies to enhance team-building and engagement – on a budget.

Offer individual attention

offering individual attenion

Your workers are different, so the same methods to boost staff engagement won’t work on all of them in the same way. When deciding how to get employees engaged, first consider the generational, ethnic and cultural differences that might be present across your workforce.

One option to understand those differences a little better is having workers take a personality test that clarifies their tendencies and preferences.

Once you know your workers’ preferences, you can assign them tasks that fit with their desires and ensure they’re more engaged in the work they’re doing. For example, if you know certain workers enjoy public speaking, you can include them in committees and provide opportunities for them to speak up. On the other hand, if you know a worker doesn’t like speaking in front of large groups, you can offer them different types of experiences.

It’s important for employees to feel like their managers and leaders value them and their needs, and don’t just see them as part of a general, undefined workforce.

And if you’re unable to pay for a personality quiz or other assessment tool, you can always ask workers what they need on an individual level. Find out what levels of feedback they prefer, what kinds of tasks they excel at and more. This not only gets workers more engaged, but it also improves efficiency, since you’ll know what each employee needs to perform at their peak.

Note: One thing almost all workers desire? More flexibility and independence in their jobs. Keep that in mind when considering new ways to engage them.

Make goals clear

setting goals for staff

It’s hard for workers to be engaged in their jobs if they don’t know what the end goal is. Explaining roles and responsibilities clearly can help with this, as can sharing strategic plans and frequent updates with employees.

This doesn’t only apply to the company’s wider goals, however. Have leaders take the time to help workers set individual goals that tie in with the business’s larger ambitions, and make plans to see those personal goals through.

Many HRMS solutions have performance evaluation features that allow employees to set goals and track them throughout the year. Often, employers can provide feedback on those goals via the software as well, encouraging consistent communication about the way forward.

Using this strategy is another way to offer workers personalized attention and let them know you see them as people, instead of just cogs in a machine.

Although managers can’t be there for every step of a worker’s journey, taking the time to focus on their future shows you’re willing to put in the effort to help with career growth.

Foster social connections

socialable workplace

Although everyone has individual needs in their work environment, it’s also important to emphasize the importance of working in teams and connecting with co-workers.

Employees are more likely to enjoy coming to work and feel more fulfilled in their jobs if they like the people they work with.

Ways to improve colleague connections can be simple, from hosting a holiday potluck to providing board games at company events. Holding regular gatherings helps workers get to know each other and talk about life outside of work more than once a year. Host a weekly group lunch or a happy hour at the end of the week or month. In addition to adding more bonding time, scheduling it regularly means people can plan for it, making them more likely to attend consistently.

There are also other options to create connections, like sponsoring a service project that allows employees to work together for charity. Not only do workers feel good about helping the less fortunate, they’re able to bond with co-workers and learn more about each other outside of a formal workplace setting.

Many employees are searching for purpose in their work, so providing an opportunity for them to get out of the office and make an impact can help them connect your business with a positive purpose.

Provide training opportunities

employee training

Investing in employees’ skills with training and development shows you value them and want them to succeed, while also having clear benefits for the company as well.

Although this option may cost more, there are low-cost training and development courses your company can use that will have the same impact as an expensive conference. Mastering a new skill is a great motivator for employees to remain engaged.

Bonus: Training sessions are another way to get employees to interact with their co-workers and bond over what they’re learning.

Promote breaks

taking a break in the office

It’s not healthy – for bodies or minds –to work straight through the day with minimal breaks. Encourage employees to take quick breaks and use them for stretching or taking a quick walk around the office.

Beyond the health benefits, these breaks also show workers you’re concerned about their well-being, which can help them feel more connected to your company.

When employees know they’re valued just as much as the work they produce, their levels of engagement grow along with morale.

In addition, these short breaks provide another chance for colleagues to interact and connect, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Recognize and thank everyone

appreciating your staff

Sometimes a little appreciation is all employees need to feel like their work matters. It costs nothing to tell someone when they’ve done a good job.

Having public appreciation events is a good way to show people they’re valued, but keep people’s preferences in mind. Not everyone’s comfortable being the center of attention, so give those employees private recognition instead.

And don’t limit the recognition to high-level workers. No matter what their status, workers need to be shown they have value. From the intern who started three days ago to the company executive who’s been with the business for 20 years, everyone wants their work noticed and praised.


No one wants to feel nonessential at their workplace, but luckily there are a variety of ways to boost employee engagement on any budget – and many of them don’t cost a thing.

Whether you decide to implement one thing on this list or all of them, remember: Prioritizing workers and their feelings is key, as is clear and honest communication.


About the Author

Kelsy Ketchum is an editor for Better Buys, helping companies find and select the right software solution. She also writes about medical coding, human resources and safety compliance.