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Let's Get Engaged!

Enthusiastic workers are the secret to a stronger, more stable company.

So here's straight talk about what makes your employees tick - the answers may surprise you.

Want your company to become more successful? Who doesn't! But you may be overlooking a great investment opportunity - the very people who already work for you. Nurturing your employees' enthusiasm and involvement can pay off, literally. Companies with employee engagement programs outstrip the competition by 26% in terms of year-over-year annual revenue growth, according to The Aberdeen Group, a research firm.

Yet despite the potential gains, many organizations are at a loss as to how to get workers to be more gung-ho. According to research firm The Conference Board, 90% of executives know that employee engagement is important, but fewer than half know how to achieve it. Which means it's smart to make yourself part of that other, better half - those that know how to leverage this tool to move your company ahead in the marketplace. The best news: Many solutions, like the three that follow, don't cost big bucks.

Promo Tip:

When heading out for a service day, have your team don their company's logo on a hat or shirt. It'll build a sense of togetherness, and remind those in your community of your service. Or, give your team a laser-engraved water bottle they can use on the service day, and bring back to the office. It will remind them of that great day for years to come.

Problem: Your workers seem short on team spirit.
Solution: A service day.

Pick a great charity, then set aside a day for everyone to assist it, recommends Robin Kane, an associate professor at the University of Denver Daniels College of Business and a board member at Rocky Mountain HR People/Strategy. "We've had groups build a bicycle together for a charity,' she shares. Planting a garden in an inner city together is another great idea--it's all about giving back, and taking collective pride in what's been accomplished.

Service days are a great way for colleagues to get to know each other better - especially in an age when they may communicate electronically more often than face to face. They're also an object lesson in how each person's efforts contribute to the good of the whole.

Problem: Workers seem apathetic about their tasks.
Solution: Try giving them more autonomy.

The problem might not be with the people you hired. It's harsh but true: The fault may lie with a company culture of micromanagement. An extensive overview of workplace research shows that employees who feel free to make choices for themselves, and take responsibility for them, are happier and more productive.

Think about ways you might painlessly provide more latitude. Even if certain tasks are nonnegotiable, could workers maybe decide the order in which they want to tackle them? Can they have more freedom in terms of their hours, as long as they finish their work on schedule? One British study found that when employees' work is tracked by a computerized monitoring system (a common practice on this side of the pond, too), their stress levels rise by 7.5 percent. That's the kind of drag on morale that can lead employees to unplug psychologically, even if they can't do so literally. Small changes may make people feel less like they're in military school and more like they're a respected and integral part of your organization.

Promo Tip:

Looking to keep your top people on top of their game? Offer to pay for training on sites like Lynda.com, Rosetta Stone, or Khan Academy, then provide them with branded flash drives so they can easily bring their "homework' - and new skills - to and from the office.

Problem: Longtime employees keep jumping ship.
Solution: Cross-train them in new skills.

A Gallup poll conducted in 2015 found that a whopping 70 percent of us feel bored or disengaged at work. If your employees are yawning through their days, they may also soon leave a yawning gap in your organization too: According to a LinkedIn survey of more than 10,000 people about why they quit a job, a wish for more challenging work came in third place. First place? Lack of room to grow.

Cross-training can help head off both these beefs, while preventing potential bottlenecks within teams that can further dampen morale. (After all, if only one person can handle a certain task and is out sick, others dependent on its completion may be left frustrated and bored.) Broaden your employees' horizons and sense of worth by training them in multiple areas, and you'll also see a broad increase in their satisfaction.

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