This employee engagement tip is so simple you may be tempted to laugh it off. Do so at your own risk. This is one of the easiest and most powerful things you can do to bring your team closer together. In a single word this is all about FOOD.
Food is great as a central theme for bringing a team together and creating a joint experience around something other than work. If you are a manager and you have never brought in food for your team or have not encouraged your team when they talk about bringing in their favorite recipe, you are being a party pooper. Food drops all the barriers of rank and role in the organization, it allows a manager to serve a team member (literally) and it always lightens the mood. When I know there is a birthday cake in the afternoon or a barbeque at lunch today, I look forward all day to the time when the team gets together to laugh and eat and I know that I am not alone in this.
If food is not part of your workplace culture yet, try it by starting small. Make or buy some cookies (or muffins, or whatever) and bring them in. Put them out with a card or walk them around to everyone. I know you will be surprised with how the conversation will change. If you feel alienated from your staff right now and don’t know how to break the ice, there is no better or easier way, just make sure you are aware of any food allergies or special dietary needs so you don’t alienate anyone any further!
If food is already part of your culture, try taking it to new levels. Look for any excuse. A good example is PI day. We celebrated PI day at IBEX last week. We brought in more pie than we could eat (literally), some people made them, some people bought them, and some people just ate them. We talked about it in anticipation all week then we laughed and enjoyed the moment and we are still talking about it a week later.
Food is a great conversation starter and a great engagement tool. My advice is to use the power of food to bring your team together on a regular basis.