Drivers of Employee Engagement

March 31, 2011

If you have not watched the 10-minute YouTube clip by Daniel Pink on motivation you need to.  It sums up what motivates workers, backed by research and replicated by scientists (which means it has the academia seal of approval).  The clip, in conjunction with RSA Animate, is titled Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.  

Don’t have time to watch the clip?  Here is the cliff note version with a focus on three key drivers of motivation and engagement. 

Autonomy – Listen closely to part about Atlassian (an Australian software company) – once a quarter on a Thursday afternoon the company allows employees to work on whatever you want, the way you want, with whomever you want (beer and cake included) for 24 hours.  The only caveat – employees are asked to share the results of what they worked on with company at end of 24 hours (one day).  Providing freedom and autonomy has yielded amazing results for the company including new products, fixes to existing software, etc. 

Mastery – Why do highly skilled, technically sophisticated people who have paying jobs spend their limited free time doing equally or more technically sophisticated work for FREE?  Because they want and like challenges and want to master a skill like learning to play an instrument on the weekends. 

Purpose – The need is not just for work to matter but for the work to have purpose, transcendent purpose.  It makes coming to work better and attracts better talent.  “When the profit motive become unmoored from the purpose motive – bad things happen like crappy products, bad service, and sometimes illegal acts.” 

When you consider the three key drivers to motivation – how does your company stack up in creating a culture that embraces giving employees autonomy to do their job, the resources to master skills and purpose in the work one does?  It’s a tall task and if it is not embedded in the culture it won’t happen overnight.  The first step is to acknowledge the current practices around these three drivers (micro-managers beware), determine where the disconnect and gaps are and then consider creating an action plan to put autonomy, mastery and purpose into your leadership’s vocabulary and then into every day practice.  

What motivates or drives you to be a contributor at work?


As a reminder, SBR Consulting’s e² survey (employee engagement matters) measures how engaged and motivated employees are and where a company should focus their resources to have the greatest impact to engagement, retention and the bottom line.  Call me at 704.363.7151 or email me at stacey@sbrconsult.com for more information or to get started.


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