Top talent can be eight times more productive than average workers – and they’re more engaged. But the ability to recruit top talent is difficult worldwide and the “war for talent” is escalating.

Remote jobs give businesses infinite opportunities to find the best talent anywhere in the world – and it broadens the prospects for job seekers.

In 2021, 41% of employees plan to leave their current employers. This, along with labor shortages and post-pandemic re-staffing, means companies are doing more recruiting than ever.

You would think this impending employee attrition is due to a lack of engagement, but that’s not the case. The state of employee engagement is higher than any time in recent history – 68% at the end of 2020.

Some experts say this is because the pandemic brought coworkers closer together around a shared emotional experience and others say it was the ability to work remotely which gave many a greater sense of satisfaction.

Whatever the reason, the pandemic also gave us pause. Experiencing so much turmoil, anxiety, and sadness over the past year caused many to reevaluate our priorities and what we want from life and career.

Most people considering a job change say they are concerned about career advancement and many say they would change employers for better benefits and the continuation of flexible work arrangements.

Competing for talent is certainly more complicated now than before 2020.

Engagement is a powerful tool employers can leverage in their recruiting efforts, chiefly because a strong employee engagement strategy will speak to the factors prospects weigh heavily when evaluating potential employers, including opportunity for growth and development, culture and purpose, and whether the employer conveys a sense of belonging.

And, with it comes the opportunity to build an even more engaged workforce by using engagement to build engagement. Here are four must-dos to leverage employee engagement to attract top talent – and feed the engagement cycle:

1. Align your brand with engagement. When someone hears or reads your company’s name, what impression comes to mind about what it’s like to work there? Branding can be critical to attracting top performers, who know their value and have the luxury of choice when it comes to employers.

Make sure that your branding reflects your culture and values. If you’re not certain you have this culture thing right, ask your employees. Start with a survey and address concerns quickly. Engage your employees in the process of cultivating the kind of culture they want to work in and that new talent is attracted to.

2. Share employee engagement stories, internally and externally. Stories have the power to both encourage current employees and entice potential talent who are looking for companies they can flourish in.

Clever businesses are even promoting their engagement achievements to earn trust from their customers. True engagement is an asset with genuine value that shouldn’t be locked away in a human resources report. Capture those stories and share them.

3. Set up an employee referral program – or remind staff about an existing one. You’ve carefully vetted and hired your employees, they are connected to a lot of former colleagues, and they meet a lot of people at industry events. That’s a powerful network you should tap into.

Make sure your employees know that you value qualified referrals.

According to a LinkedIn study, the #1 way people find new jobs is through referrals and employers can expand their talent pool ten-fold by leveraging current employee networks.

But don’t expect your employees to be anything but honest with their networks. Make sure you are addressing things like career paths, upskilling and work-life balance – things that are top of mind for both job seekers and your current employees.

4. Create an engagement cycle. When you relate a story of genuine engagement to your current employees, it creates trust and reaffirms their sense of wellbeing. People want to feel good about their employer and coworkers.

When you share those stories with job candidates it can inspire an emotional reason to want to be part of your team. People want to work where they feel they belong, can thrive, and create their own stories.

The engagement cycle picks up momentum when new employees become engaged and create their own stories, inspiring your workforce and attracting more new talent.

Employee engagement is an investment that will continue to provide returns. It is a powerful employee retainment and hiring tool because it’s genuine.

Webinar: Keys to Attracting & Retaining Employees

To learn more about recruiting and retention, tune into our latest webinar with our CEO & Founder, Stefan Wissenbach, and Sean McCleary of Insight IT & Engineering Recruitment.