Your team is one of your most valuable assets when it comes to achieving the mission you have for your business. Not only do they increase your bandwidth, but they bring new ideas, perspectives, and insights as to how to serve your customers better.

But even though adding employees to your team can be a major source of growth for your business, realizing the return on the time and resources you invest in them isn't automatic.

That's why it is more important now than ever to build a high-performing team. To do that, you first have to find the right talent. Then you've got to create an environment that makes them want to say.

Lots of companies do this by rolling out attractive compensation packages and adding enviable perks to attract and retain their talent.

But there's one area that is often overlooked, that is the linchpin of your ability to extract the unlimited potential of your team: engagement.

Why high-engagement is essential to a high-performing team

According to 2015 data from Gallup, only 32 percent of employees in the U.S. are engaged. Their data, which was largely unchanged from 2014 and previous years, shows that 51 percent of employees are unengaged, and 17 percent are actively disengaged. No bueno.

Even though these numbers are shocking, you know they are true. You've no doubt walked into a business where it was clear the people who worked there would rather be anywhere but at their job.

At times, their disdain for their work makes you feel a nuisance, rather than someone who they are eager to serve. As such, they struggle to create an experience that makes people want to come back.

Low engagement isn't just a problem with front-line employees. It happens with people working at all levels of an organization. That's why companies who want to grow need to put proper attention on employee engagement. As Gallup note, it impacts business results:

Engaged employees are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work. Gallup's extensive research shows that employee engagement is strongly connected to business outcomes essential to an organization's financial success, such as productivity, profitability and customer engagement. Engaged employees support the innovation, growth and revenue that their companies need.

Also of note:

Gallup categorizes workers as "engaged" based on their ratings of key workplace elements -- such as having an opportunity to do what they do best each day, having someone at work who encourages their development and believing their opinions count at work -- that predict important organizational performance outcomes.

Bottom line: you can't afford to have people who aren't engaged in your business.

A scientifically proven way to increase engagement on your team

There are a number of ways to tackle increasing the engagement in your company. But when it comes to specific area of helping your team see how their opinions and contributions count, science has given you a proven path forward.

Connect your team to your customers. Consistently show your team how the work they do benefits the lives of the people they serve in a positive way.

Data shows connecting your team to your customers increases their persistence, performance, and productivity.

In one study, call center employees raising money for scholarships at a university spent just 5-minutes chatting with a recipient of the scholarship they'd help raised money for. Over the next month, those same employees spent more than twice the amount of time on the phone with potential donors, and nearly tripled the donations they brought in.

Another study showed that lifeguards were more attentive and worked more hours after reading stories about people whose lives were saved by lifeguards.

The data also shows, it is good practice to get your team to "see" the people they are helping, in addition to mapping out a direct correlation to how the work they do impacts your customers.

Make it a point to get your employees to spend time with your customers. Whether it is through live meetings, phone conversations, reading their emails, or seeing a video profile of them, even a small interaction goes a long way.

And where possible, directly highlight how the work your team does impacts your company's ability to make life better for your customers.

That clear understanding of the significance of how the work they do effects others, will significantly improve employee engagement.

As a result, they will work harder, they'll feel better about their work, and your customers will receive more value. A win for all.

Published on: Sep 20, 2017