As the economy heats up, so do employment opportunities. Tenured employees, when developed and engaged on a continuous basis, drive greater value than those who are simply passing through your organization. Engaged employees are a common denominator among great companies, but assembling and sustaining such a team is easier said than done.

Many business owners fail to fully leverage the economic value of their employees, or get a measurable ROI for the time and effort spent to attract, develop, and retain them. The untapped potential of employee discretionary effort can be unleashed when business owners help employees understand the company's mission and make it easy to adapt to changes in the business.

Potential investors are more attracted to businesses that have empowered their employees and engaged them to go above and beyond to satisfy customers and ensure the company's success. Ultimately, highly engaged employees boost company values.

There are five critical activities you need to employ to build a strong workforce:

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  1. Recruitment is where it all begins. Hire carefully -- this is an essential step in building a workforce. Assembling a robust interview team with a coordinated process and proven methods for surfacing desirable attributes like self-motivation, resiliency, integrity, and work ethic will increase the odds of a well-chosen hire. By recruiting the right employees, your company can better motivate, retain, and engage your entire workforce.
  2. Competitive advantage can and should be a conscious part of your business growth strategy. It gives your company an edge in recruiting the most-talented candidates and keeping them. An appealing working environment, along with flexible work arrangements, also attracts and builds a solid workforce. Of course, offering competitive compensation and benefits is key as well.
  3. Engagement is the holy grail of employee satisfaction. Employee engagement is at an all-time low, according to Gallup. The emotional commitment an employee has to an organization and its goals results in greater expenditure of discretionary effort. Engagement is all about connecting and understanding your workforce. Positive, two-way communication across all levels of management encourages engagement.
  4. Performance evaluations should be used to provide feedback and confirm employees are accomplishing goals and making a valuable contribution. When evaluations have clear, achievable objectives that measure individual, team, and organizational performance, employees tend to register higher levels of engagement in their work. Measuring performance allows employees to be challenged, and those metrics can be tied back to retention. Employee performance evaluations serve as an effective tool to help management align workforce performance with company goals while also building meaningful career paths for valued employees.
  5. Line of sight as to how employee efforts impact the needs of customers creates purpose. The right motivation encourages people to work harder and longer as employees discover greater purpose in the execution of their jobs. Clearly communicating your business mission and jointly outlining a clear path for job advancement within that mission can mean the difference between a job and a calling for employees.

Hiring and developing talent is one of the most valuable investments a business owner can make at every stage in the life cycle of a business. Set the appropriate leadership foundation for your business by developing a well-trained workforce that is aligned with company goals and objectives. Knowing what drives employee motivation and productivity will help you create a team that more easily connects the dots between actions and outcomes, and yields a workforce that is made to stay.