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Aug 22'

Connecting Your Distributed Workforce Through Fun Incentives for Employees

In recent years we’ve experienced a paradigm shift in the way in which people approach work. Gone are the days when employees would commit to a company for life, motivated to stay in their roles by the promise of a bigger paycheck, a prospective bonus or a hefty pension pot. Instead, people are looking for something more. They’re looking for a great culture, fun incentives and more than anything, a purpose.

And who can blame them?

After all, if we’re going to spend half of our lives at work, shouldn't we enjoy what we do and who we are doing it with? 

So, in the current landscape, what can you do to connect a distributed workforce and bring your people together, even when they’re working miles apart? Here are a few easily implementable ideas that you can employ…

Invest in employee experience 

Today’s top talent, especially millennials, need a purpose, not just a paycheck. People want to feel connected to their work and appreciated for the impact that they can have on their company. 

That’s why it’s so important to build a strong company culture. Your company’s culture is more than just a few words written in a handbook, it’s one of your most valuable assets. It dictates how your employees feel about their jobs and why they come to work every morning.

The very best cultures bring people together, creating companies where everyone feels connected. Something that’s even more vital in a distributed setting. One of the most important things you need to understand is that these connections won't happen by accident. Instead, building relationships between your people requires intentionality, so you’re going to have to proactively create opportunities for them to engage with one another and develop genuine friendships. 

fun incentives for employees

Emphasize inclusion 

A distributed workforce isn’t just a model to structure your organization - it’s a mindset. By their very nature distributed models give you access to a dynamic and diverse talent pool of individuals who hail from the full spectrum of society. This diversity of employees should be celebrated. It shows that your company values collaboration, inclusivity, equality and communication. 

That’s something that you should lean into if you want to build stronger connections between your people. One of the ways you can emphasize this diversity is by creating cultural committees and Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), bringing your people together through a shared purpose to promote equity. 

Another tactic for emphasizing inclusion within your organization is to celebrate your employees’ identities. Whether you put on pride events or potluck cookoffs, these cultural celebrations can be fun incentives for employees that bring people together and seamlessly forge connections among colleagues. 

fun incentives for employees

Make room for fun

Speaking of fun, one of the biggest issues that distributed workforces face is the loss of the kind of impromptu interactions that employees would usually enjoy when they’re working in the same office. 

It could be a quick chat over the water-cooler, catching up with a colleague while making your morning coffee or sharing a joke in the lunchroom - these moments are part of the fabric of day-to-day office life.

So how do you recreate them in a remote setting? 

The solution is to consciously make room for fun at work. It could be that you make digital communications more colloquial, employing GIFs and emojis in an effort to make things more fun. Perhaps you can open up new Slack channels where colleagues can talk about their favorite TV shows or discuss last night’s big game. 

One simple technique to help make room for fun is to set aside the first five to ten minutes of every meeting to talk about life outside of work. Giving your people the chance to speak about something other than their jobs makes things more personal, encouraging colleagues to build genuine connections and friendships that extend beyond the workplace. 

fun incentives for employees

Invest in shared experiences

Research has shown that friendship has a vital role to play in building a connected workplace. One study revealed that 63% of workers believe friends make their jobs more enjoyable. It also found that if people don’t have a best friend at work, there’s only a 1 in 12 chance that they’ll be engaged.

Creating opportunities for your people to forge these friendships in a distributed setting can be more challenging than if they were working together in an office, but it’s far from impossible. The secret is to offer fun incentives and shared virtual experiences that enable your people to create memories and build relationships just like they would if they were meeting in person.

There are a whole host of ways you can do this from Zoom happy hours and monthly town halls to annual events and holiday parties. These virtual experiences are a great way for your people to interact with each other outside of work, breaking down barriers to connect in a fun low pressure environment. 

It could be a cooking class or an online games night, but whatever activity you choose the most important thing is to create intentional opportunities for people to socialize with one another. Think of it as a date night, only instead of setting aside quality time to spend with your partner you’re giving your employees the chance to spend quality time with one another. 

fun incentives for employees

And don’t just save the fun for special occasions like the holidays either. Connections don’t happen overnight, they have to be nurtured. Continuous effort is key, so create a whole calendar of events that give your people regular opportunities to come together and connect so that they can see each other as human beings and not just work colleagues.  

If you’d like to find out more about connecting distributed workforces check out our recent webinar. In our wide-ranging discussion, Bucketlist’s Jason Lindstrom was joined by Lee Rubin, CEO & Co-Founder of Confetti, to discuss how virtual experiences and fun incentives for employees can help to bring people together. 

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