THE BLOG
12/24/2014 09:52 am ET Updated Feb 22, 2015

Part Two: Engaged Employees: Your Company's No. 1 Competitive Advantage

In part one we discussed how employee health, engagement and productivity at work are inextricably linked. Research on employee engagement and productivity continues to return to the basic health of each employee as an indicator for how engaged they could be on the job. In this part we are going to take it a step further and look at how to find and hire the right people, and how to help them succeed.

Hire the right people
One of the most overlooked aspects of recruitment is finding someone who's a cultural fit. While that manager with 10 years' of relevant experience might seem like a good hire, how successful will they be if they can't connect with the rest of your staff? One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the years is that hard skills can be taught, but people skills come naturally.

When hiring, I always make sure our team thinks about how candidates will interact with others on the team. Will they motivate others? Be a team player? Do they feel connected to the mission? These are all key cultural components, and going back to Maslow's hierarchy, it's important for people to feel that they belong and help others feel that way, too.

It's always difficult to make staff cuts, but if employees don't believe in your vision, fit your culture or connect with your company and team, it might be better to part ways. Otherwise, that tribe mentality - we're all in this together working toward a common goal - won't result.

Show them the love
People don't typically associate the word "love" with "workplace," but making employees feel wanted, appreciated and supported is one of the most important aspects of engagement.

At Virgin Pulse, we recently surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. employees. Of those, nearly 75 percent of respondents said they either "love" their company because it's a great place to work or felt "pretty good" with no major complaints. But unfortunately, employees aren't feeling that same adoration in return. Only 25 percent of respondents said they felt their company loved them back, highlighting a major opportunity for employers to better nurture the employee/employer relationship.

Boosting that sentiment is important. I'm not talking about wining and dining them, either. One of the best ways to show employees you care is by offering up holistic benefits and programs that support their well-being across the board. These programs don't just show how much you value them, but they make it easier for employees to be on top of their lives by getting and staying healthy, meaning they can be their best selves every day.

Help them succeed
Setting people up for success is another key to molding engaged employees. No matter how great a role may be, employees don't want to feel stagnant in their careers or their lives. Neglecting to offer up opportunities that help them sharpen their abilities will only drive disengagement.

Provide mentoring and training to help employees improve and learn new skills. Give them robust wellness programs and benefits that help them stay healthy and thrive in all areas of their lives. You'll set the foundation for success and enable them to better prioritize, so they can get more done each day and leave work feeling accomplished.

At the end of the day, it's important that we take care of our most important asset - our workforce - just like we would any other critical asset. By offering robust wellness program and benefits that help employees fulfill all of their needs, your employees will be more able to engage at work and in life, and more likely to bring their most energetic, focused, driven selves to work each day. These are the kind of employees that'll make the magic happen and help your company grow and prosper.