I understand your issue. I would suggest, please sit with them one to one or jointly and make them understand, to bring in some systems is better for organization and no one should take it personal. Instead of repeatedly briefing, issue a Circular. Take your boss into confidence and brief him about this development.
Regarding employee engagement activity, it's a good initiative to bring people closer. You will find plenty of indoor team games on the internet. Find a suitable activity.
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With best regards,
Whenever you launch such policies you should expect this kind of reaction from the employees & the reason is very simple, no one wants to come out from their comfort zone. Take one-one/ team sessions & explain that you are streamlining the process which is beneficial for employer/employee both. You can circulate an official mail for that & inform everyone that any employee fail to submit their leave application (signed by their respective supervisor) will be consider as a unauthorized leave which can effect their PMS score. Hope that will help you.