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Even though the stock market remains volatile and job creation lags, organizations must work to recruit and establish meaningful connections with their employees. These connections go beyond the standard CEO weekly email and involve interactions with peers, managers, and other organizational leaders.  Employee engagement is not just an annual review process.  It’s a monthly, daily or as needed process.  Like any relationship, for employees to remain happy, productive, and motivated, corporate leaders must foster and grow individuals personally as well as professionally.

The Cost of Disengagement

Lost productivity leads to more than missed opportunities. Disengaged workers cost the US economy $370 Billion annually.  And the U.S. is leading other industrialized countries with a higher engaged workforce, according to a recent analysis by Fast Company. The U.S. workforce engages 29% of employees, for example, compared to just 3% for Japan. This means that all countries have a long way to go.

The concept of the Employee Engagement Economy is much like Gary Vaynerchuk’s concept in his book “Thank You Economy.”  Relationships matter, conversations matter and business happens through the development of these social relationships.

Key Do’s and Don’ts to Keep Your Employees Engaged

DON’T take the relationship for granted.  While employee payroll is often a company’s largest expense, good employees are also an organization’s biggest asset. Employees deserve to be rewarded and recognized for good work, but it’s also the relationship built with a manager that will make or break their engagement.

DO require commitment from both employees and bosses.  There is no silver bullet to creating a highly engaged culture. Every employee as well as manager plays a role and like any relationship both sides must contribute just as they would in a marriage, in order for it to be enjoyable, productive, and effective.  I like to call it Re-Recruiting.

DON’T try to ‘game’ engagement.  Performance reviews can be gamed, faked, and BSed.  Employees know this.  Real conversations, mentorship programs, and connections can’t. Authentic conversations can’t be automated but good habits can be developed.  Like any new exercise or healthy eating program, repetition, practice, and awareness allows for a rhythm to be developed where things fall into place.  Employee engagement works the same way.

DON’T confuse employee development with employee engagement.  Giving your employees opportunities to learn and grow in their careers and roles in your company is part of engagement. But it’s not the only part.  Growth has to be accompanied by meaning and fulfilment. Indeed, even in these turbulent times, good employees are leaving organizations to seek out more meaningful work.  Through a solid employee engagement relationship, you can understand your employee’s career goals and dreams and help them achieve them.

In the Employee Engagement Economy, what really matters is a collaborative relationship where employees feel fulfilled and work productively and passionately for their managers as well as their organization. To do otherwise undermines the whole system.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

About

Jessica Miller-Merrell is a leadership blogger at Blogging4Jobs. She is a digital strategist with a passion for recruiting, human resources, training and social media and is the author of “Tweet This! Twitter for Business,” a how-to business guide for Twitter.