8 Best Employee Engagement Books

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October 16, 2020

Hello! You found our list of the best employee engagement books.

Employee engagement books are guides for challenging and motivating teams. By following the advice of seasoned management professionals, you can inspire colleagues to work at full capacity and achieve great results.

These books are similar to team building books and can be a parent category of icebreaker books.

So, here is the list!

List of employee engagement books

There are many different approaches to employee engagement, and the books on this list tackle the topic from various perspectives. Read on for our top picks.

1. The Truth About Employee Engagement: A Fable About Addressing the Three Root Causes of Job Misery by Patrick M. Lencioni

The Truth About Employee Engagement cover

You may recognize Patrick Lencioni’s name from our list of team building books, where we mentioned his bestselling The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In The Truth About Employee Engagement, Lencioni outlines three common causes of employee disengagement: immeasurability, anonymity and irrelevance; in other words, feeling alone and seeing individual contributions as meaningless. By taking steps to help employees feel connected to colleagues, confident in designated roles, and useful to others, you can help motivate workers towards higher levels of performance. The author presents real-life scenarios and offers an actionable plan to help teammates reach true potential.

Notable quote: “Human beings need to be needed, and they need to be reminded of this pretty much every day. They need to know that they are helping others, not merely serving themselves.”

Learn more: The Truth About Employee Engagement

2. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit cover

In the spirit of “work smarter, not harder,” author Michael Bungay Stanier encourages you to step back and let your workers learn to find solutions instead of supplying immediate answers. Stainer writes that you can empower your team by asking questions instead of offering your advice, opinions, and suggestions. This approach enables employees to develop problem solving skills and confidence, which in turn leads to higher levels of engagement. This book provides instruction on how to effectively coach employees by asking the correct questions instead of giving direct orders. In this way, you can turn your workers from followers to contributors.

Notable quote: “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

Learn more: The Coaching Habit

3. Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT by Paul L. Marciano

Carrots and Sticks Don't Work cover

The title of this book alludes to the cartoon stereotype of a horse chasing a carrot tied to the end of a stick, always running towards the goal, but never growing any closer. Author Paul L. Marciano argues against the constantly-moving-the-finish-line model of management, proposing instead that a system of feedback, empowerment, recognition, and respect achieves more desirable outcomes than an environment of never-ending demands. Marciano critically analyzes reward and incentive programs, distinguishes the concepts of engagement and motivation, and offers clear steps for engagement in the form of his RESPECT model.

Notable quote: “Employees come to us in a state of readiness to engage, and it is the behavior and decisions of managers and organizational leaders that can result in even the best employees becoming disengaged over time.”

Learn more: Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work

4. The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate by Jacob Morgan

Employee Experience Advantage cover

While most employee engagement books center on influencing employees, The Employee Experience Advantage aims on shaping the environment, focusing on three main factors: the cultural, technological, and physical atmosphere of the workplace. Author Jacob Morgan claims that by designing a functional and supportive environment that creates a positive experience for the team, you will foster enthusiasm, inspire loyalty, enable high performance, and ultimately retain more employees. The Employee Experience Advantage presents examples of effective organizations and suggests ways to build appealing and engaging work environments by investing in employees and their surroundings.

Notable quote: “Bonuses don’t really motivate workers. Once they reach a certain baseline salary, money is no longer the main driver. They need something more.”

Learn more: The Employee Experience Advantage

5. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Start With Why cover

Author Simon Sinek made cameos on our team building books list and our list of the best team building quotes for good reason: the man has great ideas about leadership. In Start with Why, the book that inspired one of the most popular TED talks of all time, Sinek offers the advice that to encourage employees (and customers) to support your goal, you have to explain the why that drives your vision. If you craft a story and relay your motivations, then you can persuade colleagues to join your cause willingly and enthusiastically. Framing this tactic through a method called “The Golden Circle,” Sinek describes how to harness the power of why to influence others.

Notable quote: “There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”

Learn more: Start with Why

6. Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work by Kevin Kruse

Employee Engagement 2.0 cover

Author Kevin Kruse asserts that engagement is not solely the responsibility of the company or the manager, but also the duty of an employee. Though leaders can practice engagement tactics, a large part of employee commitment is intrinsic motivation and cooperation. Based on this belief, Kruse lays out steps to discovering personal engagement styles and offers a slew of different activities to help all members of an organization practice discretionary effort, otherwise known as the act of going above and beyond the bare minimum expectations.

Notable quote: “Engaged doesn’t mean satisfied. This is a big misconception….You can be satisfied at work, but that might mean you are satisfied only enough to do the bare minimum to get by.”

Learn more: Employee Engagement for Everyone

7. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization by Robert Kegan, Lisa Laskow Lahey, et al

An Everyone Culture cover

A great deal of career advice boils down to “minimize your flaws, present your best self at all times.” Authors Robret Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey turn this idea upside down by claiming postering wastes energy and effort that employees could otherwise dedicate to work tasks. Furthermore, hiding weaknesses ensures that struggling employees never get help and develop the skills needed to excel. An Everyone Culture recommends that you should create atmospheres that encourage all employees, not just high performers. The authors call this concept Deliberately Developmental Organizations.

Notable quote: “The way we’re going to be a better company is by working on yourself, and helping others work on themselves.”

Learn more: An Everyone Culture

8. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John Doerr

Measure What Matters cover

Measure What Matters takes a more analytical approach to employee engagement. Author John Doerr champions the use of Objectives and Key Results, or OKR’s, as a framework to achieve great ends. The book claims that by setting concrete and measurable goals, you can create a roadmap to success for your employees. Clear and transparent goals help employees visualize and realize results. Under this system, teammates are more likely to cooperate and focus and less likely to burnout and jump ship.

Notable quote: “Ideas are easy. Execution is everything.”

Learn more: Measure What Matters

Conclusion

Employee engagement is the degree to which employees feel impassioned. This factor determines the amount of effort workers are willing to dedicate to the cause. Achieving and maintaining engagement is no easy task, but experts write books to share knowledge and train managers in stimulating tactics. Engagement tools abound, both in print and web formats.

Next, check our our list of quick employee morale boosters and this one on virtual employee engagement.

FAQ: Employee engagement books

Here are answers to some of the most common questions regarding employee engagement books.

What is employee engagement and why is it important?

Employee engagement measures how involved and active employees are within an organization. Disengaged employees cost companies money in the form of absences, wasted time, and turnover. Engaged employees help drive the company forward with enthusiasm, effort, and purpose.

What are employee engagement books?

Employee engagement books are guidebooks that offer strategies for inspiring employees and ensuring optimal performance. A few of the best titles in this genre include Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work by Paul L. Marciano, The Employee Experience Advantage by Jacob Morgan, and Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

How do books motivate employees?

Assigning employees book reports is not necessarily the best method of motivating employees. Instead, you should read these books and select highlights to share with your teams. You can discuss key points as a group and brainstorm ways to incorporate these ideas into your workflow. You can use the concepts presenting in employee engagement books to shape your management style.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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