Did you know that most US workers fall in the not-engaged category when it comes to employee engagement? Only 32% of the 80,844 American adults, in a Gallup poll surveyconducted between January and December 2015, were found to be “actively engaged.” Amongst the rest, 50.8% were “not engaged” and another 17.2% were found to be “actively disengaged.” This research by Gallup established an important point that employee engagement is strongly linked to business outcomes and has to be a key focus areas for any organization to achieve financial success.

The resulting negative impact of disengaged employees on a company’s bottomline is often huge. In fact, a disengaged employee could end up costing an organization $3,400, approximately, for every $10,000 spent on his annual salary, according to a McLean & Company research. This study projected the loss to the American economy to be anywhere around $350 billion per year on account of lost productivity.

Best Practices to Improve Engagement and Performance
Here are some ways in which you can build relationships and improve engagement and performance, not just for your employees but forother key partners as well, such as customers and vendors: 

Employees –Business success depends largely on companies being able to create and leverage synergies within a team. This requires the organization to make relationship building a business objective and plan for time and resources to be invested in achieving the goal. The conscious building of relationships can be a daily endeavor, culminating in an annual event aimed at recognizing and rewarding exceptional contributions. It goes without saying that a corporate event will be more successful when there’s food. For centuries, “breaking bread together” has been seen as a sign of friendship, since sharing a meal has symbolic meanings like cooperation, shared experiences and togetherness, says Chef John Deatcher of Foodinis.

Customers – There are many interesting ways in which you can connect with your customers. Ever thought that you could do it by “building trusted relationships through analytics and experience?” Today, executives are using all available tools, including big data and analytics,to enhance the customer experience. In fact, 69% have increased their efforts to personalize the customer experience, according to a study by EY. In this study, an overwhelming majority of CMOs, i.e. 91%, felt the need to build trusted customer relationships as a key focus of their department’s strategic and competitive vision.

Building trust is an important prerequisite of relationship building. One good way of achieving that with your customers is through the ABCD trust model by leadership expert Ken Blanchard:

Able is about demonstrating competence
Believable means acting with integrity
Connected is about demonstrating care and concern for other people
Dependable is all about being dependable and maintaining reliability

Vendors – Maintaining good vendor relations holds the key to building a good brand image for your organization. Assigning a single point of contact to deal with a vendor and getting all their issues addressed promptly is one surefire of improving vendor relations. You must also respect your vendor’s time and prior commitments and give them adequate time to service your requests.

Improved vendor relations are known to directly impact the profitability of an organization as was also reemphasized through a study authored by John W. Henke, Jr., PhD,and Professor Sengun Yeniyurt at Rutgers University Business School. According to this study, if six automakers (GM, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Honda and Toyota) had scored only 10 percent higher on the Working Relations Index, each company would have gained an additional $58 to $152 in profit per vehicle or anywhere between $98 and $400 million in operating profits.

Any organization that focuses on improving relationships with these important stakeholders will start witnessing positive results. For instance, not only will there be a jump in employee productivity, but the quality of work will also improve. On the customer front, any relationship building effort is bound to create strong loyalty for the organization and instill confidence in your brand. As a result, your customers will also be more tolerant towards occasional and minor deficiencies in service. Now these are some exciting reasons to put a plan into action and look for new ways in which you can build and nurture relationships, both within and outside the organization.