Behind the Scenes

Making Engagement a Priority

By Christine Vucinich, MAMay 27, 2020

Credit: Shutterstock

Engagement activities, PAEA style — for the taking

Keeping teams engaged not only promotes an efficient and productive work environment, it also creates a positive and happy work culture while reducing turnover. As workloads increase and more urgent tasks take precedence, it is easy to deprioritize activities for faculty and staff to learn and get to know one another. Yet prioritizing engagement is more critical now than ever. With more staff working from home, in-person events and meetings being canceled, and social distancing restrictions in place, there are fewer opportunities to connect. How have you remained engaged with your program faculty, staff, and students during this challenging time?

Activity #1: Creating Staff Challenges

Below are a few examples of internal engagement activities that PAEA staff have led in 2020 that have required minimal time and budget but have made a positive impact on morale and team collaboration.

In February, staff participated in a Staff Love Learning Challenge hosted by PAEA’s Digital Learning Team. These digital learning challenges, which were announced at each weekly staff meeting, included logging into the Digital Learning HUB (DLH), consuming and “liking” a piece of content, creating a smart card, and sharing it with a colleague. Staff who participated were entered into a weekly drawing. This was a great opportunity for new staff to learn about the digital resources and a reminder for veteran staff on how to make the DLH a part of their workflow. A drawing was held weekly (virtual drum roll and all) with a grand prize drawing for an Amazon gift card!  

Activity #2:  Monthly Article Discussions

Staff are encouraged to regularly share articles within the Digital Learning Hub. An article is then selected by Heather Storm (PAEA program manager), based on its engagement statistics in the DLH, for a monthly facilitated lunch discussion. Discussions have been well attended and have been used as an opportunity to focus on a specific topic and get to know one another. Timely topics have included work-life balance, adding exercise into your workday to boost your mood and reduce stress, and managing anxiety. Having these conversations helped to reinforce our work culture and produced positive outcomes including piloting core work hours to ensure staff have a balance of team collaboration time and time to focus on project work.

Activity #3: Engagement Questions

Over the past month, Ashley Bray (program manager) has posted questions twice a week in our Microsoft Teams staff channel, with staff sharing their responses throughout the week. We have been prompted to share our favorite music, TV shows we like to binge, photos including our home office and throwback pictures, as well as the first place we each plan to go once the shelter in place orders are lifted. This engagement activity has been a great opportunity for staff to get to know each other better and make meaningful connections. It has created a sense of community (even among staff who have not had the opportunity to meet in person) and has allowed for a fun moment of discussion throughout the work week.

Engagement activities, like these, are an important way to keep teams connected. If you would like more information about any of these activities or would like to share with us activities that have been successful at your program, email us at learning@PAEAonline.org.

Learn more about staff engagement in the Digital Learning Hub. Member contributions are always welcome! 

Christine Vucinich, MA

Christine is an instructional specialist on PAEA’s Digital Learning team. She collaboratively develops long-term strategies to meet members' professional development needs, creates online resources, and introduces members to PAEA services like the Digital Learning Hub and LinkedIn Learning.