How to ensure that employees are engaged in your company's success

Watch new employees on their first few days at work.

Often they have a bounce in their step. They look expectant and excited. They're eager to learn. Simply put, they're engaged.

Unfortunately, their enthusiasm often doesn't last. For many, their first year on the job is their best and it's downhill after that. According to Gallup Organization research the longer an employee stays with a company, the less engaged he or she becomes. This drop in enthusiasm means lost company profits and sales, and lower customer satisfaction. In fact, according to Gallup, unproductive, actively disengaged employees cost the American economy up to $350 billion per year in lost productivity.

Further, Gallup reports that only 29 percent of the U.S. workforce is actively engaged.

So what about the remaining71 percent?

Sad to say, 55 percent is not engaged. They are neither negative nor positive about their company. They basically take a wait-and-see attitude about their work, their company and their co-workers.

Worse, 16 percent is actively disengaged, which means they are not just unhappy at work, they act out their unhappiness undermining and dismantling what their engaged coworkers build.

Think about it. Seventy-one percent of employees who go to work every day aren't engaged in what they do. This means that American businesses are operating at one third of their capacity. What if only one third of a supermarket chain's stores opened each day or only a third of a manufacturer's production line operated at full capacity every day? What a lost opportunity!

Businesses that operate with only a third of their employees fully engaged similarly lose opportunity.

Engaged employees committed to company

In any business, engaged employees are more committed to quality and growth.

Job matching boosts employee engagement

So how do you boost engagement levels in your company?

Ensuring passion among your employees begins with the "people decisions" you make. Whether hiring, placing or promoting, you'll improve your employee's engagement potential by matching people to their jobs.

Harvard Business Review followed 360,000 people in fourteen industries through 20 years of their careers to see what made superior performers successful. Contrary to what you might think, it found no relationship between performance and education qualifications, gender, age, race, experience, compensation or many other criteria used to select people for jobs.

So what did it find?

That when people were "matched" into jobs they were capable of doing and motivated to do in an environment that suited their personality and behavior, they were successful.

In fact, not only did those who were job-matched outperform their non job-matched peers in their first six months on the job, but the performance gap widened significantly after 14 months.

Helping engaged employees stay engaged

Once you have engaged employees, how do you help them stay that way? 

To start with, employees must have a strong relationship with their manager. Some managers think they should leave their best employees alone. Great managers do just the opposite. Recognizing that their most productive and talented employees have the most potential, they spend most of their time with them.

Here are a few additional things managers can do to help employees stay engaged:

Learn what motivates your high performers then apply that knowledge to all your employees

Motivation differs from employee to employee. Do you know what motivates your employees, particularly your high performing employees?

By measuring behavioral tendencies in five critical job-related competences, productivity, work quality, initiative, teamwork, and problems solving, you can evaluate differences between employees and learn what motivates and engages your high performers. You can then use this information as a guide to better manage, coach and motivate all your employees.

Engaged employees are clearly more valuable to your company than disenchanted ones. They are more innovative, passionate, productive, profitable, and safer. They create stronger customer relations and they stay with their companies longer than those less engaged.

Take steps to boost engagement levels in your company. Match people to their jobs. Help engaged employees stay engaged. Know what motivates your best people and apply it to all your employees. And then, watch your business grow.

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