Employee engagement isn’t magic. Unless it is.

High employee engagement is a proven bottom-line driver. But how high can you go?

You watch a little TV/Hulu/Netflix, right? I’ve been known to log an hour or four in front of the high-def color screen, ingesting the comedy/drama/sports/mystery the content providers have to offer. Sometimes, magic happens.

You know the kind — when your day’s worries disappear. You get engrossed in something other than you. In the best scenarios, sometimes that magical program whizzes by without realizing how much time passed. You were engaged — fully.

Is it possible to delve into your employees’ hearts and minds with the same deep reach? Maybe. How effective is your entertainment programming department?

If you haven’t yet finished hiring and onboarding your entertainment production team, then the onus to get and keep your employees engaged probably falls on you. (Because you’re still reading this.) And let’s face it — your competition for their attention, determination and discretionary effort comes from everywhere. And you’re probably outgunned.

Productivity: excellence required

OK, so you probably aren’t going to get most of your employees into the perfect, blissed-out state described above. But in the words of Vince Lombardi — the famous employee engagement guru (ahem) — “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” Fortunately for you, perfection is not necessary. However, excellence is required if you want to hold the competitive advantage of an engaged workforce. Because most don’t. You can.

Here’s how: Get to your employees early then hold their attention. How early? A good manager knows employee engagement starts well before an employee comes on board. It begins with clearly defined needs, clearly defined goals and good hiring. Once you’ve got the right fit, you’ve got a viable framework to acquire and maintain engaged employees. This is where you can use some tools to give you a competitive advantage. I’ll tell you about some in a moment.

Here’s why: The stakes are high. It’s business, not summer camp. A 2013 Harvard Business Review report “The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance,” notes that “Employee engagement has become a top business priority for senior executives.” A highly engaged workforce not only maximizes your human capital investment and improves productivity, but it can also significantly reduce costs, (turnover, recruiting, training) that directly impact the bottom line.

If your company is investing for growth (hiring, expanding) and not in cost-cutting mode, know that employee engagement is no less than a top-three business priority, according to business leaders polled by Harvard Business Review. Achieving a high level of employee engagement and strong executive leadership tied for third place (71 percent) — just behind effective communications (73 percent) and the natural winner, achieving a high level of customer service (80 percent).

Not so fast

You get it — you seek high employee engagement to improve your business’ productivity. But the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in their 2014 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement research report cautions, “Recent studies of employee engagement show that maintaining high levels of engagement has become fairly challenging.” I’m guessing this is also probably not news to you. Further, many studies reveal that the farther down the organizational chain, the lower the employee satisfaction and corresponding engagement. This is what we can call a growth opportunity — for you in your organization.

The need is great and, fortunately, the right tools are available. Consider Rallyware for Employee Engagement, a solution that empowers companies to successfully onboard and continuously develop and motivate their workforce. The key to successful employee engagement is in connecting with employees early in the on-boarding process, energizing and motivating them through social game-like experiences and peer recognition.

Working with a mobile, geographically dispersed workforce? Join the club. With Rallyware, suddenly employees no longer feel as divided across geographies and business functions. Having trouble motivating or retaining Millennials? If so, you’re still not alone. A recent Gallup poll revealed that when surveyed by generation, Millennials are the least engaged. Rallyware’s web and mobile platform has been proven to be very effective at motivating Millennials – providing self-direction, work-life balance and connection with peers from onboarding through other training milestones

In the zone

Think about some of the best times you’ve had in your work-life. If you’re like me those were probably times when you were in deep on a significant project — sleeves rolled up, cranking away — probably in coordination with other high-performing colleagues, driven to meet significant milestones and deadlines. When you’re in the zone, time flies. Accomplishments pile up. Satisfaction soars — when you win — and sometimes even when you don’t.

Your employees crave to be in that same zone. At least the ones you want to keep are. Fortunately, ROI can be gleaned by tracking the metrics available in Rallyware’s Employee Engagement solution, which Identifies talent and improves engagement through real-time metrics and analytics. Yes, even the bean counters will be happy. That might qualify as magic right there.

In the U.S. the bar is rather low. According to a 2015 Gallup report, less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014. So, is employee engagement magic? It might look that way to your competitors. And that’s the hiring, productivity and retention edge you want.

Click here for your demo and see how Rallyware helps enterprises with large sales forces cut expenses, drive revenue, and transform operations.