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Can employee engagement help your company gain a competitive advantage?

employee onboardingAmong HCM professionals everywhere, there’s been a great deal of hand-wringing over the years about employee engagement. Focusing on engagement has gotten so much emphasis recently that it’s basically an instinct – HR offices make engagement their priority without even thinking about why it matters or how it can benefit their organizations.

So maybe it’s time we refocused for a minute and asked anew – what can engagement do for your staff? You might say that one answer is an increase in employee retention and productivity, and you’d be right. But that’s just one level, and you can also go deeper. Here’s another way of looking at it – if you have a superior level of employee engagement, you can use it as a source of competitive advantage against other businesses in your industry.

According to The Huffington Post, this is a foolproof strategy. Thomas Buus Madsen, founder and chief operating officer at BookBoon.com, told the news source that if your employees are more engaged than your rivals’, you will be in prime position to run a more productive, profitable business than they ever will.

A clear purpose is the key
So how do you create a workforce that’s more engaged than everyone else’s? Madsen told HuffPo that the key is to unite everyone behind a common organizational purpose. Too many people go to work every day not understanding the greater meaning behind what they do – your task is to eliminate that uncertainty.

“Some organizations work harder at achieving high levels of employee engagement, seeing this as a critical factor in building and maintaining a successful organization,” Madsen noted. “Studies have shown that a clear and compelling organizational purpose can have a positive effect on engagement, particularly engagement on the organizational level.”

Chances are, there’s something your organization is passionate about besides just getting a pile of work done each day. Maybe it’s about creating an innovative product that no one else can, or maybe your real objective is to make a difference in customers’ lives. Whatever it is, emphasize it and unite the entire staff behind it.

Remember – one size does not fit all
The other key here is to remember – your employees are unique, and they deserve to be treated like it. A lot of companies make the mistake of developing rigid job descriptions and forcing their people to fit into them, even if their employees’ unique skills aren’t a good fit. If your philosophy is that “one size fits all,” you should know that that’s rarely true.

“Constructing a job around an individual’s skills, aspirations and preferred work pattern, is more likely to ensure higher employee engagement, than shoehorning an individual into a standard job role,” Madsen argued. “But to create jobs around what people are good at is far from widespread.”

Not a lot of companies out there are willing to take the time to think about their employees’ unique skills and develop jobs that fit them best. If your organization can, you’ll be one step ahead of the game in employee engagement – and as a result, your business will be on the fast track to success.

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