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by Jennifer Lumba | July 16, 2012
Research shows that there is a correlation between unengaged employees and corporate performance. Unmotivated masses tend to waste hours and make costly mistakes, resulting in millions in lost revenue and profits.
 
But if unengaged employees cost money for their employers, do the engaged help make money? A new book, The Employee Engagement Mindset, makes the case that engagement is not only measurable but that employees who produce a positive return on their connections to others tend to generate greater contributions.
 
The findings, derived from a five-year study led by Dr. Timothy Clark, show that engaged employees exhibit six habits that lead to long-term success. They participate in activities that advance their goals; they’re opportunistic; they’re committed to learning; they try new things; they achieve; and, most important of all, they add value to the organizations for which they work.
 
In other words, cultivating an engaged workforce is a path to profit. Here are 10 tips for using popular and homegrown social networks to foster higher levels of engagement across your employees:
 
1. Encourage open project groups. Borrow from Google and its stated policy of allowing employees time for side projects, but go even further. Open up social tools that make it easy for anyone to create and manage ad-hoc groups for collaboration.
 
2. Advertise good examples. Create lists of the most engaged employees for others to follow in their adopted networks. Use social media to broadcast new entrants in hopes of encouraging healthy competition to be among the ranks of the top performers.
 
3. Play matchmaker. Just as it has become customary on Twitter to suggest others worth following on “Follow Friday,” try a similar approach for matching engaged employees with promising prospects. Think of it as an introductory email, only broadcast via the social sphere.
 
4. Outsource the company voice from time to time. Hand over the corporate network feeds for a day. Allow the most engaged employees to show off their skills. Take note of what worked and what did not, using the lessons to craft a set of best practices.
 
5. Make it a contest. Send out a call for blog posts to top performers. Ask them to write about what motivates them and why. Pick a winner, post his or her blog, and then repeat this each month.  Include a link to a page where candidates can apply to work at your company. Track the clicks and applications and award prizes for stories that attract new talent.
 
6. Model the behavior you want. Don’t just call out people who exhibit great habits; highlight quotes and stories that demonstrate the sorts of performance you want to achieve. Use every channel. Get executives involved via their own social media feeds.
 
7. Broadcast transformations. When improved engagement leads to improved performance, note it. Write and market blog posts that describe how transformational success was achieved, who achieved it, and what the rewards were. Use the stories as a pitch to get others to want to be equally engaged.
 
8. Get peers involved. Co-workers are by far the best judges for what superior engagement looks like. In recognition of this, use social media to broadcast calls for nominations for the most engaged employees, encouraging responses via the same channels. Public praise from peers can be an enticing reward in itself, after all.
 
9. Highlight admirable achievements. Recognize superior engagement, wherever it may be, publicly, in order to demonstrate to employees what you’re after. Think big and congratulate often via every social network at your disposal. You’ll not only model desired behaviors but also win friends.
 
10. Use verbal rewards. Never forget that positive reinforcement works. It’s even more powerful when delivered in the public sphere, where admirers are granted the opportunity to chime in with their own praise.

Jennifer Lumba is the chief marketing officer of Rideau Recognition Solutions (www.rideau.com). Built on state-of-the-art technology, Rideau’s employee recognition and customer loyalty programs change the way companies recognize employee service and achievement, reward individual and team performance, strengthen customer relationships, and create brand loyalty. Lumba can be reached at jenniferlumba@rideau.com