Make it a goal this summer to check out employee engagement books that will inspire and challenge you, whether you’re planning a major “think week” or just have 15 minutes a day to read over lunch.
Get a head start on engagement planning for this year by exposing yourself to fresh ideas and perspectives. Spark your creativity!
According to Kevin Kruse, consultant and NYT bestselling author of “Employee Engagement 2.0,” employee engagement is often misunderstood.
That lack of understanding is holding back American companies.
In an interview with Business Management Daily, he calls engagement “one of the secrets behind so many of my companies.”
Yet it’s surprisingly rare.
“Only about one-third of the workforce is truly engaged at work, and we’ve been stuck at this number for about two decades. This is really a shame as life is too short to be unhappy at work,” Kruse says.
In short, effective engagement leads to a workforce that cares.
“A sales person who truly cares about organizational results will sell just as hard on a Friday afternoon as she would on a Monday,” Kruse explains. “An engaged service rep will be just as patient and helpful at 4:59 p.m. as he would be at 9:00 a.m. An engaged factory worker will yank the cord to stop the line every single time a defect is noticed.”
Want to see this level of passion and caring at your company? Make it a goal to read one or more of these employee engagement books, based on decades of experience and research into building vibrant, engaged workplace culture.
Employee Engagement Books for Summer Reading
1. “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” by Gary Chapman and Paul White (Moody, 2011)
“The Five Love Languages” is a classic 1995 self-help book on improving communication in romantic relationships. Now the author, Gary Chapman, has teamed up with psychologist and workplace coach Paul White to apply the same principles to building great workplace relationships.
Well-communicated appreciation is a cornerstone of employee engagement. This book has practical, personality-specific advice for sharing appreciation effectively so employees actually hear it. Get a taste in this 15Five blog post on job satisfaction.
2. “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Act More & Change the Way You Lead Forever,” by Michael Bungay Stanier (Box of Crayons, 2016)
Aimed at managers who feel “overconnected, overcommitted and overwhelmed,” this book argues that asking the right questions — not working harder — is the secret to having more impact. Author and leadership coach Michael Bungay Stanier offers seven questions to help guide managers to a better model of engaging with employees.
“The Coaching Habit” has the approval of top engagement and management leaders. Brené Brown calls it a “practical and inspiring book.” Daniel H. Pink praises Bungay Stanier’s model as a “simple yet profound technique.”
Best of all, the book is designed with busy schedules in mind. According to Kirkus Review, “The Coaching Habit” is a “sharp, habit-forming leadership manual” that readers can finish “easily in a couple of a hours or in 15-minute increments.”
3. “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth (Scribner, 2016)
Truly excellent employee engagement inspires passion and perseverance — so, even though psychologist Angela Duckworth’s background and focus is in childhood education, her principles for developing “grit” are applicable in the workplace.
“Duckworth’s ideas about the cultivation of tenacity have clearly changed some lives for the better,” Judith Shulevitz writes for the New York Times Book Review. Duckworth’s TED Talk on grit, recorded in 2013, has been viewed more than 10 million times.
4. “The Effective Manager,” by Mark Horstman (Wiley, 2016)
Take a step back: what does “effective management” actually look like? Is your company attracting and retaining top talent without burning them out? Author Mark Horstman, host of the popular podcast Manager Tools, digs into these questions and refuses to accept assumptions. Then he reveals four critical behaviors that all great managers practice and how to master them.
It works. In reviewing the methodology, one manager writes that after focusing on the four critical behaviors Horseman establishes, “Very quickly, my team responded with thankfulness (!), and our results got better. ‘Know your people, talk about performance, ask for more and push work down” is simply what you have to do if you want to call yourself a professional manager.”
5. “Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees,” by Lee J. Colan (McGraw-Hill, 2008)
Leadership advisor Lee J. Colan approaches Human Resources with an emphasis on “human,” arguing that the best employee engagement strategies start with fulfilling basic needs related to intellect (Achievement, Autonomy, Mastery) and emotional agency (Purpose, Intimacy, Appreciation).
“This practical guide delivers the right message at a critical time,” writes Jim Thyen, former president and CEO of Kimball International. “It’s a swift read and provides fresh, new insights. Passionate Performance is the secret sauce to today’s leading organizations.”
6. “Building a Magnetic Culture: How to Attract and Retain Top Talent to Create an Engaged, Productive Workforce,” by Kevin Sheridan (McGraw-Hill, 2012)
Some companies seem to effortlessly attract and keep employees, like a magnet. How do they do it? In his decades of hands-on experience working with leaders, consultant and keynote speaker Kevin Sheridan discovered what these “magnetic cultures” have in common.
He shares what he learned in his book “Building a Magnetic Culture” as well as in his guide to developing remote teams, “The Virtual Manager.” Read our 2015 interviews with him to get a preview of his ideas, “Secrets to Building a Magnetic Culture with Kevin Sheridan” and “Engaging a Distributed Workplace: Kevin Sheridan Insights.”
7. “Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World,” by Bob Rosen (Jossey-Bass, 2013)
Chronic uncertainty, cynical employees and personal burnout are just some of the challenges facing managers today. Meanwhile, managers are “sabotaging who we are as human beings” while obsessively chasing short-term results, according to CEO advisor and organizational psychologist Bob Rosen.
Rosen has worked with companies as diverse as Ford, Singapore Airlines, Lego, Citigroup, PepsiCo and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In “Grounded,” he makes the case for developing six personal dimensions to help leaders regroup and refuel. Ultimately, his goal is to help develop leaders at every level who are more self-aware, fully tapping their potential and driving significantly better results — for themselves, their teams and their organizations.
Want ideas for more employee engagement books to stash in your beach bag this summer — specifically books focused on workplace happiness? Check out our blog post “9 Great Beach Reads on Building Employee Happiness.”
Free Resource: Your Day-to-Day Employee Engagement Calendar
We all need inspiration to spread workplace gratitude daily. gThankYou’s Day-to-Day Employee Celebration Calendar gives you the tools and inspiration to build a culture of appreciation every day of the year. Be inspired; download yours today, absolutely free.
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day — or to celebrate each special day.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru, coach and author
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