“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams Engaging your employees during difficult economic times is a true test of your leadership. Employees are engaged if they show an ability and willingness to exert extra effort for the benefit of the company, and speak highly about the company and their intent to stay. To successfully engage your employees, follow these tips: Set a clear, compelling direction that empowers each employee. You hired these employees. Use their abilities and talents to engage in creating a positive future for your company. Communicate open and honestly. Keep your employees informed and updated, even if the news isn’t always good. Continue to focus on growth and development. Provide your employees with opportunities for growth and development. It doesn’t have to cost you anything. Allow them to work on projects that will expand their skills or cross-train in other departments to expand their knowledge. Recognize and reward high performance. Find creative ways to reward your top performers. Even if you don’t have the budget for bonuses and perks, there are simple things you can do to let your employees know you appreciate them. Provide employee benefits that demonstrate your commitment to the well-being of your employees. If you can’t beef-up your overall benefits plans because of escalating health care premiums, look to wellness companies and local providers to conduct health fairs, stress management sessions, and more at little to no cost. Or coordinate your own group activities such as walking groups at lunch time or weight loss support group.