This article originally appeared on the BUILDER website.

According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, only 33 percent of American workers are engaged in the workplace. The best managed companies have an engagement rate of 70 percent, but these companies are the exception, rather than the norm.

Companies that prioritize employee engagement are more profitable and enjoy less staff turnover. That’s why it’s important to have a proactive plan in place for building and sustaining team morale and creating a rich, inclusive company culture that will then foster employee engagement. This starts with a company’s mission and values.

Maintaining a thriving team morale and strong company culture over a far-flung operation can be a huge undertaking. At P.B. Bell, with nearly 30 different individual communities around the Greater Phoenix Metro area, it takes a lot of effort to effectively reach everyone in the organization and engage each employee.

Businesses that use morale boosters not only improve company culture and employee morale, but also create real benefits to the bottom line - usually measured in higher productivity, lower absenteeism and less turnover. But make no mistake, morale boosters are not meant to be a ‘set it and forget it’ type of solution. Planting the seeds for growing a culture of empowerment and employee engagement is just the first step.

In our case, we established a “Culture Club” that consists of a number of employees who take the lead on sustaining the culture of the company. This keeps us accountable to maintain our company culture. Each of our five executives chose a value to own and demonstrate.

Each quarter we highlight a particular value. The executive who owns that value is in charge of outreach; to talk about and highlight the value in a variety of ways. They’ll visit our communities to talk with employees, express appreciation, get feedback, and participate in events designed to enrich our culture through demonstrating that particular value. We also use webinars as an opportunity to share important news and initiatives with all our locations at once. It’s timely, cost-efficient, and easily accessible for our teams.

Hiring and Retaining Top TalentToday’s job market is less about employees competing for roles and more about organizations competing for employees. Improving engagement and morale must begin with organizations and how they attract, retain and engage employees. This takes creativity on an employer’s part.

People want to feel connected to their work and their company. Without these ties, there is little incentive to stay. It’s far too costly to begin the recruitment, hiring and onboarding process all over again, so you need to know what’s most important to the people who will be considering your organization for their next workplace.

With an easy Google search, people can learn about the background of a company and what an organization stands for. They can also review what a company has to offer its employees, as well as read what past and current employees have say about the business. They’ll read articles and headlines, review Facebook and Instagram and even look at your Glassdoor and LinkedIn profile to develop a strong sense of what makes an organization an exceptional place to work - or not.

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report also found that when choosing a job role and an organization, employees place the greatest importance on the following qualities:

  • The ability to do what they do best (60%)
  • Greater work-life balance and better personal well-being (53%)
  • Greater stability and job security (51%)
  • A significant increase in income (41%)
  • The opportunity to work for a company with a great brand or reputation (36%)

Employees who are engaged are more likely to stay in their jobs, simply because they feel a stronger bond to their organization's mission and purpose. This also means they become more effective brand ambassadors, building stronger customer relationships that help to increase overall sales and profitability.

This has been successful for us. New employees consistently tell us they are impressed by the amount of personal attention they receive during their onboarding. By the end of the process, they have a great understanding of our corporate culture and what’s expected of them, which allows them to be fully engaged in their new role.

Our annual review process was similarly revamped in order to refocus performance metrics around our core values. Employees are asked to share the ways they’ve lived our values over the year, and then they set personal and professional goals to improve or advance themselves and their future with P.B. Bell. We also take this time to provide recognition that shows that we’re paying attention and that we value our employee’s contributions which also helps to motivate our employees to do what’s right, not what’s easy.

People who are engaged at work perform better and stick around longer. They form real bonds with an organization's mission and values, making them an asset to a company. Make it a priority to build and maintain a strong company culture.