In the past month, social media and even the traditional media channels have been captivated by some less-than-newsworthy events. Unless you have been unplugged, chances are you caught at least one, if not all three of these “news” stories:

Gold & White or Blue & Black? It all started when a woman posted a mesmerizing and very controversial dress on Tumblr on February 25, 2015, asking what color it is. From Tumblr, the Great Dress Debate of 2015 quickly spread to Twitter, Facebook and offline into people’s homes and offices, causing people to divide into two camps: #teamblueandblack and #teamwhiteandgold.

Llamas on the Loose! In similar fashion to the famous coverage of the police pursuing OJ Simpson’s white Bronco over 20 years ago, news helicopters and vans followed two llamas as they ran loose in a retirement community in Arizona on February 26, 2015. Fox News and CNN even pre-empted coverage of the speeches at CPAC to follow the Llama on the Lam.

Dover Police Officer “Shakes It Off” Staged or not, the video of Dover Delaware Police Officer, Jeff Davis, lip syncing to Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off” went viral, amassing millions of views on YouTube and exploding on Twitter and Facebook. The singer herself even shared it with followers!

Think about the time people spent engaged by these three stories! Don’t you wish it were that simple to engage your employees? Maybe it is. Each of these stories captured people’s interest because they were intriguing, entertaining and an escape from the typical (often depressing) news. While your strategies will be slightly less silly, they should still be focused on tapping into individual passions, values and motivators while providing an escape from the typical (often fast-paced and crazy) work day.

The following are a few recommendations from industry experts on how increasing employee engagement that we like for their simplicity and their focus.

Support a Local Charity – employees of all generations what to feel proud not only of the work they do but also the company they work for by knowing they are part of something bigger; providing opportunities for your employees to participate in programs that support social causes can make their work seem more meaningful, thereby increasing employee engagement

Recognize Good Performance – according to a recent BrandonHall Group Employee Engagement survey based on data collected in November and December 2014, recognition is the top driver of engagement. This is fairly easy to understand – who doesn’t like a compliment? The key is to recognize employees in a timely and consistent way.

Be “All-In” – this is a simple concept that could generate significant results; if you want your people to be “all-in” for your company, you have to be “all-in” for them, which means not only telling them you care but also making them believe it by consistently being present and in tune with who they are and what is important to them, personally and professionally. Check out how one company’s leaders and employees are “all in!”

Go Outside the Office – workforce consultancy, exaqueo, uncovered an interesting fact about current employee engagement models that could change the way companies address engagement problems. What they found is that most models are centered around the work experience, not on the employees. The flaw in this approach is that when we only focus on understanding what happens at work, we forget the fact that employees “bring their whole selves to work1.” What happens outside of work could very well be just as important as (and having a direct impact on) what happens at work. Read more about this interesting approach.

There is a common theme underlying each of these strategies – employees are people and will respond more positively when they are treated as people, not resources.  Focus on what makes people tick and you may just experience a level of engagement like The Great Dress Debate of 2015 generated!

 

1 https://hbr.org/2015/01/employee-engagement-depends-on-what-happens-outside-of-the-office