Out of Office: Why Employee Engagement Extends Beyond the Workplace

July 31, 2019 by Josh Hrala

There are many great ways to increase employee engagement at the workplace. You can offer training courses, specialized classes, an internal skills market (which we’ve covered here), and many other things.

But there’s one area that often goes overlooked: what you can do for your employees when they aren’t physically at work.

Now, we aren’t advocating that you push into your staff members’ personal lives and decrease work life balance – quite the opposite. You see, what your workers do when they aren’t on the clock will likely align with what their passions truly are. And this is where you can seriously increase employee engagement.

Yoga, biking, reading, cooking. There are tons of hobbies and interests that we all have that do not have anything to do with the workplace. But, if our employers cared about our interests and provided us ways to increase those skills and pursue those hobbies, we’d all be grateful in the end.

So how should you do this? What techniques are available?

Let’s take a look at this is a bit more detail.

Satisfaction and Fulfillment: The Top Drivers of Employee Engagement

In order to increase employee engagement, we are strong believers that you need to customize programs to individual employees. We’ve talked about this a lot before.

Why, though? For the simple reason that every employee is different, requires different things, and wants different things from life, their career, and everything in between.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on the things outside of work. For example, you may have someone on your team that absolutely loves hiking and spending time in the wild. This really has nothing to do with their role, but it gives them a fulfilling life that they are satisfied with.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “well, that’s all well and good, but how does this play into HR’s hands?”

While it may not seem like it, you have the power to help your employee realize their wilderness dreams by providing them ways to work during long trips or by allowing them to create a club – sort of like people did back in school – for others in your organization to get together and go for a hike.


This will only lead to a net positive for you. You have just created a fun and engaging team building exercise that your employees control themselves, which will foster relationships, help with fulfillment, and – most importantly – show that you want your employees to truly live their best lives even when they aren’t clocked in.

This is just one example, though you can see how this can applied to book clubs, yoga retreats, arts endeavors, and much more. Just make sure you have a solid understanding of what your employees love and then help them pursue those things as best you can (and, obviously, within reason).

Engagement Outside of Work Leads to Engagement Inside

With many forward-thinking organizations quickly realizing that fulfillment = engagement, it makes sense that many employees find true engagement outside of work. This means that you should try to get them engaged with outside activities as much as possible because they will likely lead to happier and more engaged workers in the end.

To pull this off, you really need to listen to your employees and see what they want from you – not what you want from them.

For example, if you have a bunch of workers that love yoga, golf, movies, or really any other outside of work activity, you can easily customize a program to help them enjoy those passions more.

Basically, you simply need to understand what makes your employees happy and well-rounded human beings. We all have things we love that are outside of work. By addressing the fact that your employees have lives outside of the office and that they find fulfillment and joy there, you can seriously boost them inside the office.

We always suggest surveying your staff members to understand their interests. However, like we mentioned above, listening and talking to direct managers can be a major benefit, too. People tend to talk about what they love – you just have to be paying attention.

The Takeaways

The major takeaway here is that in today’s tight labor market where employee engagement is essential for long term success, you need to focus on all aspects of your workers’ lives, including the parts they spend away from the office.

If you support them in their after work activities, you will help them lead enriched, fulfilling lives, which will increase their happiness and satisfaction at work. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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