50+ Inexpensive employee engagement ideas to try in 2023

14 min read
50+ Inexpensive employee engagement ideas to try in 2023
50+ Inexpensive employee engagement ideas to try in 2023

Employee engagement doesn’t always have to cost an arm or a leg; there are plenty of budget-friendly ways to boost morale and create a company culture that your team will love. As the great Zig Ziglar once said, "You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great."

And when it comes to engaging your workforce, it's all about taking that first step, no matter how small or quirky it may be.

Imagine you're in a world where your team is enthralled with enthusiasm, Monday mornings are greeted with smiles, and the office coffee machine is always freshly brewed and stocked with your favorite creamer.

Sounds like a dream, right? Well, with a pinch of creativity and a dash of resourcefulness, you can turn this dream into reality, even without splurging on expensive plans or ideas.

So, if you're on the hunt for an ingenious, cost-effective list of employee engagement ideas to foster team spirit, inspire productivity, and make sure your employees feel like the rock stars they are, stay tuned.

Why do you need to engage your employees in the first place?

An employee being productive in the workplace
Why do you need to engage your employees in the first place?

Employee engagement is the secret ingredient that can transform your organization from a mundane nine-to-five job into a thriving, innovative, and productivity-boosting powerhouse. Let's break it down in plain, conversational terms.

1) Boosts productivity and performance

Engaged employees are like energizer bunnies on a mission. When your team is genuinely invested in their work, they'll go the extra mile to meet and exceed their goals. They're not just clock-watchers; they're goal-setters and achievers.

Engaged employees are 17% more productive, according to a Gallup study. That's like getting an extra day off outside of work every week!

2) Reduces turnover

Think about the last time you had a job you loved. Did you even consider leaving? Probably not. Engaged employees are more likely to stick around. Wellable reports that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organization.

High turnover is expensive, not just hiring and onboarding costs. It also takes a toll on team morale and productivity. Engaging your employees can help you retain top talent, saving you time and money.

3) Fosters innovation

Engaged employees don't just follow orders; they think outside the box. They're more likely to share ideas, offer constructive feedback, and help your organization innovate. After all, a team that's excited about their work is more likely to come up with fresh solutions and game-changing ideas.

4) Boosts employee well-being

Happy employees are healthy employees. Engaging your team reduces stress, improves mental health, and improves overall well-being. When your employees feel valued and appreciated, they're less likely to suffer from burnout and more likely to enjoy their work.

5) Enhances company culture

A positive company culture doesn't just benefit employees; it also attracts top talent. When your workplace is known for its engaging, fun, and supportive environment, you'll find it easier to recruit the best and brightest in your industry.

Employee engagement is like the magical dust that sprinkles enthusiasm, productivity, and job satisfaction throughout your organization.

So, whether you're in HR, management, or a passionate advocate for a better workplace, engaging your employees isn't just a nice-to-have – it's a must-have for success and longevity.

What is the cost of low engagement?

Employee is feeling low productive in the workplace
What is the cost of low engagement?

Ah, the cost of low engagement, my dear reader. It's a bit like having a leaky boat in the middle of a vast ocean; it might not seem like a big deal at first, but as time goes on, it can sink your entire ship. Let's break it down in a way that hits close to home:

Decreased productivity

Imagine your employees are in a boat race, and they're not exactly paddling with enthusiasm. Low engagement means they're just going through the motions, and that's not good for business.

According to a 2023 Gallup report, actively disengaged employees with low productivity have cost the world $8.8 trillion. It's like paying for a full day's work and getting just two-thirds of it.

Increased turnover costs

When your employees are not engaged, they're more likely to hop onto another boat and sail away to a new adventure. The cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new talent can be astronomical. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates that the cost of replacing an employee can be as much as six to nine months of that employee's salary. Ouch!

Low engagement can take a toll on your employees' own health and wellness, leading to more sick days, higher healthcare costs, and even long-term medical issues. Stress and dissatisfaction at work can be a one-way ticket to health problems, which in turn leads to increased medical expenses and reduced productivity.

Negative impact on company culture

Low engagement creates a gloomy atmosphere on the boat. Disengaged employees can affect the morale and performance of their engaged colleagues, leading to a ripple effect that damages your entire company culture. Negative vibes are contagious, and they can spread faster than a bad cold.

Missed innovation and growth

A boat with a disengaged crew won't discover new lands. Low engagement stifles creativity and innovation, making it difficult to adapt to changes in the industry. Without fresh ideas and a forward-thinking mindset, your organization can become stagnant while competitors surge ahead.

Customer experience suffers

Your employees are the face of your company, and their attitude directly impacts customer service. Disengaged employees are less likely to provide the exceptional service that keeps your customers coming back. A poor customer experience can lead to lost business and a tarnished reputation.

In summary, the cost of low engagement is like a relentless sea monster that can devour your profits, morale, and overall success. So, investing in employee engagement is not just a choice; it's a necessity.

And fear not, we'll soon delve into some cost-effective ways to boost your employee engagement and steer your ship toward smoother waters. Stay tuned for more, my friend!

How do you motivate employees at no cost?

Employee is celebrating in the workplace with a cape on
How do you motivate employees at no cost?

Who said that motivation has to be synonymous with splurging your company's hard-earned cash? There are plenty of ways to get employees to boost your team's spirits without making your wallet cry. So, let's dive into some simple, cost-effective ways to motivate your employees:

1) Recognition and appreciation

Picture this: You've been working your tail off, and someone notices and says, "Hey, great job on that project!" How awesome does that feel? Well, the same magic can work for your employees. A heartfelt "thank you" or a shoutout during a team meeting costs absolutely nothing but can boost morale like you wouldn't believe.

2) Encourage professional development

People love to learn and grow. Encourage your employees to take on new challenges, develop their skills, and offer them opportunities for personal and professional growth within your organization. It's like an investment that doesn't require a hefty check.

3) Flexibility and work-life balance

Imagine being allowed to balance work and life. Flexibility in working hours or remote work options can be a game-changer. It gives your employees the freedom to manage their schedules and can increase their overall job satisfaction.

4) Empowerment and involvement

Include your team in decision-making processes. When they have a say in the direction of the boat, they'll feel more invested in the journey. Their opinions matter, and by involving them, you can tap into their creativity and boost their motivation.

5) Opportunities for skill sharing

Create a culture where employees can share their expertise and teach each other. It not only promotes camaraderie but also helps everyone acquire new skills. It is a win-win situation without opening your purse.

6) Encourage team building

Building a strong, motivated team doesn't have to involve costly team-building events. Simple activities like team lunches, games, or even a monthly "show and tell" session can do wonders for team bonding and morale.

7) Offer praise and constructive feedback

Don't underestimate the power of positive feedback. Regularly acknowledging your other team member's efforts and providing constructive feedback is like gold dust in the motivation department.

8) Provide autonomy

Give your employees the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their work. Autonomy can make them feel trusted and valued, motivating them to excel.

Inexpensive employee engagement ideas examples that don’t cost a fortune

Inexpensive employee engagement ideas examples that don’t cost a fortune
Inexpensive employee engagement ideas examples that don’t cost a fortune

Remember, to engage employees, one doesn't have to break the bank. The following employee engagement examples may be light on the budget, but they're heavy on building a positive and motivated workplace.

The key is to keep the atmosphere fun, inclusive, and interactive. Include them in your employee engagement program, and you'll soon find your employees more engaged and motivated than ever before!

Virtual coffee breaks

In a world where work from home is becoming the norm, don't underestimate the power of a simple virtual coffee break. Encourage your team to take a break at the same time and hop on a video call to chat about anything other than work.

It's a great way to foster connections and maintain a sense of camaraderie, even when miles apart. Coffee, tea, or a good ol' glass of water - it's about the company, not the beverage.

Employee recognition program

Create an employee recognition program where your team can nominate and celebrate their peers for outstanding efforts. You can announce the winners during team meetings, share their achievements on your company's social media, or even write a personalized thank-you note. It costs nothing but can mean the world to your employees.

Learning lunches

Organize periodic "Learning lunches" where employees can share their skills, knowledge, or interests with the rest of the team. It's like a mini Ted Talk within your organization. You'll be amazed at your team's hidden talents; it's a fantastic way to promote continuous learning, team-building activities, and camaraderie.

Virtual game or quiz nights

Host a virtual game or quiz night once a month or so. There are plenty of free online games and quiz platforms that can turn a regular evening into a fun and engaging competition. Winners could get bragging rights or even a quirky digital certificate.

How does employee engagement activities improve collaboration?

Employees are effectively working around the clock
How does employee engagement activities improve collaboration?

Employee engagement activities are pivotal in enhancing employee collaboration within an organization. These activities act as a bridge, connecting team members and fostering a sense of togetherness, which, in turn, boosts collaboration. Here's how it works:

First and foremost, engagement activities create an environment that encourages open communication. When employees feel valued and appreciated, they are likelier to share their ideas and insights with their colleagues. This newfound transparency paves the way for better understanding and collaboration.

Moreover, they often involve team-building exercises or challenges. These activities break down barriers, promote trust, and help employees get to know one another more personally. As a result, team members become more comfortable working together and are more inclined to collaborate effectively.

Engagement activities also provide an opportunity for employees to discover each other's strengths and weaknesses. This insight can be instrumental in forming well-rounded, complementary teams for various projects.

It allows individuals to recognize the unique skills their colleagues bring to the table and encourages them to seek out their expertise when needed.

Furthermore, employee engagement activities create a positive atmosphere within the workplace. Employees who are engaged and satisfied with their work environment are naturally more motivated to collaborate.

The absence of friction and negativity during office hours in an engaged workplace fosters a culture of teamwork, where employees willingly share knowledge and work together for the organization's collective success.

In a nutshell, employee engagement activities boost individual job satisfaction and weave a vibrant tapestry of collaboration. They cultivate an environment where employees are not just colleagues but collaborators, working in harmony to achieve common goals.

50+ Fun inexpensive employee engagement ideas to try in 2023

Employees are having a virtual halloween themed meeting
50+ Fun inexpensive employee engagement ideas to try in 2023

These engaging activities will keep the spirit of your team high, promote collaboration, and create lasting memories, all without straining your budget. You should definitely include them in your employee engagement strategy.

  1. Themed dress-up days: Organize "Crazy Hat Day," "Retro Fashion Day," or any other fun theme day where employees can dress up and show off their creativity.
  2. Desk decorating contest: Let employees unleash their inner interior decorator and spruce up their workspaces.
  3. Storytime sessions: Invite employees to share their favorite stories or anecdotes during lunch breaks for a dose of inspiration and laughter.
  4. Recipe swap: Encourage employees to share their favorite recipes and create a virtual cookbook to celebrate culinary diversity.
  5. Random acts of kindness day: Challenge your team to perform random acts of kindness both inside and outside the workplace.
  6. Mystery lunch partners: Pair up employees randomly for lunch, allowing them to connect with colleagues they might not typically interact with.
  7. Desk plant swap: Exchange potted plants or succulents to brighten up workspaces and create a greener environment.
  8. Themed trivia night: Host virtual trivia nights with themes like "Movie Madness" or "Music Mayhem."
  9. Artistic expressions: Encourage employees to share their artistic talents, whether it's painting, photography, or poetry.
  10. Virtual tour day: Take a virtual tour of a museum, landmark, or city and discuss your experiences with colleagues.
  11. Team playlist: Create a collaborative playlist where employees add their favorite songs to set the office mood.
  12. Employee spotlights: Shine a spotlight on individual team members, allowing them to share their experiences and insights with the rest of the group.
  13. Book club: Start a company book club where employees read and discuss a selected book each month.
  14. Self-care workshops: Arrange workshops on meditation, yoga, or stress management to promote employee well-being.
  15. Online escape rooms: Team up to solve online escape room puzzles together, fostering teamwork and problem-solving.
  16. Homemade greetings: Encourage employees to craft homemade cards and send them to colleagues on birthdays and work anniversaries.
  17. Virtual volunteering: Organize remote volunteer opportunities, like virtual tutoring, to give back to the community as a team.
  18. Office Olympics: Create a series of office-friendly challenges or games to boost camaraderie.
  19. Cooking competition: Challenge employees to create a dish using the same ingredient and then share their culinary adventures virtually.
  20. LinkedIn skill shares: Employees can offer short sessions to teach others their LinkedIn secrets or professional skills.
  21. Travel stories day: Let employees share their favorite travel experiences and cultural insights.
  22. Comedy hour: Organize a virtual stand-up comedy show where employees can take the stage and share their humor.
  23. Jigsaw puzzle race: Send each employee a jigsaw puzzle and have a race to see who can complete it the fastest.
  24. Desk yoga: Offer a short daily yoga session to help employees relax and stretch.
  25. Local business love: Support local businesses by ordering from a different nearby restaurant for your team lunches.
  26. Creative badge: Award a "Creativity Badge" to an employee each week for their innovative contributions.
  27. Pet parade: Show off your furry friends during a virtual pet parade.
  28. DIY workshop: Host virtual DIY crafting sessions where employees can make personalized gifts.
  29. Movie marathon: Choose a theme or genre, and watch a series of movies or TV shows together virtually.
  30. Photo challenge: Create a weekly photo challenge with fun themes like "Morning Coffee" or "Nature's Beauty."
  31. Recipe of the month: Share a new recipe every month for employees to try at home.
  32. Backyard birdwatching: Share photos of birds spotted from your home office windows.
  33. Office awards: Create humorous, lighthearted awards, such as "The Office DJ" or "Most Likely to Start a Dance Party."
  34. Skill swap day: Allow employees to teach a skill or hobby they're passionate about.
  35. Company milestone celebrations: Acknowledge achievements and company anniversaries with a virtual party.
  36. Bookmarks exchange: Share handmade or meaningful bookmarks with colleagues to encourage reading.
  37. TED talk tuesday: Watch a TED Talk as a group, and discuss its impact during breaks.
  38. Cultural potluck: Have employees share their cultural dishes during a virtual lunch gathering.
  39. Walking meetings: Suggest employees take meetings while going for a walk, promoting health and creativity.
  40. Coworker appreciation day: A day dedicated to expressing gratitude for your colleagues with small gestures.
  41. Board game breaks: Incorporate quick board games during breaks or team meetings.
  42. Scavenger hunt: Create a list of common items and have employees hunt for them in their homes.
  43. Dream vacation sharing: Invite employees to describe their dream vacations and what they'd do there.
  44. Crafting challenges: Challenge employees to create something using a particular crafting material each month.
  45. Baking showdown: Hold a baking competition with a specific ingredient or theme.
  46. Team health challenges: Set health goals, such as drinking more water or taking the stairs, and track progress as a team.
  47. Monthly music mix: Share a playlist of favorite songs each month to uplift spirits.
  48. DIY workspace makeover: Challenge employees to refresh their home workspace on a budget.
  49. Gratitude journal: Start a company-wide gratitude journal to share positive moments and thoughts.
  50. Desk storytelling: Share the story behind something special on your desk.
  51. Monthly art challenges: Organize a monthly art challenge where employees create and share their artistic interpretations of a given theme.
  52. Plant parent club: Encourage employees to nurture office plants or share gardening tips, promoting a greener workspace.
  53. Themed workshops: Arrange themed workshops on topics like photography, calligraphy, or digital marketing.
  54. Employee podcasts: Let employees record short podcasts on topics they're passionate about and share them with the team.
  55. Surprise lunch lottery: Randomly select employees to receive a surprise lunch delivery to their home or office.
  56. DIY science experiments: Try out simple science experiments that can be done with household items and share your discoveries.
  57. Workout Wednesdays: Host a virtual group workout session to boost physical and mental well-being.
  58. Talent show: Organize a virtual talent show where employees can showcase their unique abilities, from singing to magic tricks.
  59. National holiday celebrations: Mark quirky national holidays with themed celebrations, like National Donut Day or Pajama Day.
  60. Virtual travel quiz: Test your knowledge about world geography and cultural trivia with a fun virtual travel quiz.

These are the best employee engagement ideas, and they are not just fun but also serve as bonding opportunities, boost morale, and promote a positive workplace culture. Plus, they won't break the bank, proving that employee engagement doesn't always require a hefty budget. Implementing even a few of these ideas would go a long way for your company.

You can also come up with your own versions of these creative employee engagement ideas and experiment to see what works best for your organization.


Remember that grand gestures or hefty investments would not be solely able to improve employee engagement. It thrives on the everyday magic of connection, appreciation, and shared experiences. It's about fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment within your team. By celebrating the unique talents and personalities that make up your workforce, you can build a dynamic, enthusiastic, and motivated community.

The beauty of these engagement ideas is that they transcend time and trends. In 2023 and beyond, they'll remain as valuable as ever, guiding you toward a workplace where collaboration, innovation, and job satisfaction flourish.

So, whether you're a startup striving to ignite your entrepreneurial spirit, a mid-sized enterprise nurturing growth, or a corporate giant seeking to maintain momentum, these ideas offer something for everyone. Your team is your most valuable asset, and by investing in their happiness, you're investing in employee morale and company's success.


1) Can remote employees participate in engagement activities effectively?

Absolutely! Many of the fun employee engagement ideas and activities mentioned, such as virtual coffee breaks, themed dress-up days, and online team-building games, are well-suited for remote employees. In fact, remote work often necessitates creative virtual solutions to maintain team spirit and collaboration.

2) How can I ensure engagement activities are inclusive for all employees?

To ensure inclusivity, consider diverse themes and activities that accommodate various interests and abilities. Encourage employees to share their ideas for engagement activities and be sensitive to cultural, religious, or physical considerations when planning events.

3) Are these engagement ideas suitable for small businesses with limited resources?

Definitely, inexpensive engagement ideas are especially well-suited for small businesses. Most of the suggested activities require minimal to no cost, making them accessible and achievable for companies with tight budgets.

4) How frequently should we organize engagement activities?

The frequency of these employee engagement initiatives can vary based on your team's preferences. A good rule of thumb is to have regular, small activities like themed dress-up days or a monthly book club, while larger events like talent shows or awards ceremonies can be held quarterly or annually.

5) Can these engagement activities really make a difference in employee satisfaction and productivity?

Absolutely! While these team engagement activities may seem lighthearted, they contribute to a positive workplace culture. They boost morale, promote camaraderie, and enhance job satisfaction. As employee engagement improves, so does productivity, collaboration, and overall company success. It's the little things that often make the biggest difference.



Santhosh is a Sr. Content Marketer with 2+ years of experience. He loves to travel solo (though he doesn’t label them as vacations, they are) to explore, meet people, and learn new stories.