HR Leaders

The Best New Books on Employee Engagement

The world of HR is constantly evolving, so it is absolutely critical for leaders and HR professionals to stay on top of emerging trends and innovative approaches to address classic conundrums, like employee engagement

While podcasts and online presentations, like TED Talk recordings, are great options for learning on the go, nothing is quite as effective as a good read to obtain in-depth knowledge. Books are a great way to obtain just that from thought leaders and influencers.

In fact, one study of nearly 2,000 professionals found that 42% felt more confident doing their job after reading books on a related subject.

In today’s competitive talent market, employee engagement continues to come in at the top of the list when it comes to leadership concerns. Engaged employees means productive, loyal employees. But achieving this is much easier said than done, and taking the time to search for great reads on the topic detracts from your already limited reading time. With that in mind, we’ve listed below five of the latest and greatest employee engagement books that every leader should read:

1. Build It: The Rebel Playbook for World Class Employee Engagement

By Glenn Elliott & Debra Corey

Authors Glenn Elliott and Debra Corey bring a wealth of experience to their 2018 book on employee engagement. This guide claims that breaking with traditional HR rules can help create more engaged employees, and consequently build better businesses, and they have the case studies to prove it. Elliott and Corey use the foundational Engagement Bridge™ model to highlight ways you can bring a positive work culture to your organization and layer it with case studies from high-performing companies like Virgin, American Express and LinkedIn. Daniel Pink, New York Times Bestselling Author of Drive and When, calls it “Your all-things necessary guide to employee engagement. You’ll learn what engagement really means, why it’s so essential, and how to instill it in your workplace.”

2. An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization

By Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

Organizations often treat people development and business growth as opposite forces But what if companies did everything possible to create a culture in which everyonenot just select “star employees”—was empowered to overcome his/her internal barriers to change and leverage vulnerabilities as opportunities to grow? In this book, Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey profile three “Deliberately Developmental

Organizations” (Next Jump, Decurion, and Bridgewater) to show how development of people doesn’t have to be separate from business growth; rather, it can be a fundamental driver. The authors provide research-backed frameworks and tactical ideas to transform your own organization into one where development and engagement are baked into your organizational DNA. As a bonus, this book is designed to be read in sections, so you can start with the topic that is most important to you (even if it’s not on page one) and then go back and read the rest if you so choose.

3. Awakening Compassion at Work: The Quiet Power That Elevates People & Organizations

By Jane Dutton & Monica Worline

One of the most common issues when it comes to employee engagement is the fact that leaders often get so caught up in ambitious goals that they forget their people are just that: people. In this book, Doctors Dutton and Worline delve into over two decades of research to demonstrate the value of compassion to the individual and to the organization, arguing that “Compassion is an irreplaceable dimension of excellence for any organization that wants to make the most of its human capabilities.” They provide clear steps for leaders to foster an authentically compassionate workplace both as individuals and at the organizational level.

4. Measure What Matters

By John Doerr

John Doerr, a venture capitalist with Keiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, shares the proven approach that he learned as an engineer at Intel and subsequently successfully applied at more than fifty companies, including Google: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). This goal-setting system defines what an organization seeks to achieve. The key results describe how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions. And everyone’s goals, from junior staff to the CEO, are transparent to the entire organization. Doerr integrates first-person stories, case studies, and anecdotes from other well known thought leaders like Bill Gates, all with the goal of demonstrating the focus, organizational agility, and growth that result from OKRs. Sound interesting but your short on time to read the whole book? Doerr provides a concise 8-page summary at the end.

5. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Act More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

By Michael Bungay Stanier

Aimed at managers who feel “over-connected, over-committed 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 poses seven questions to help guide readers to a better model of engaging employees. The Coaching Habit has received praise from many industry leaders, including Brené Brown, who called it a “practical and inspiring book,” and Daniel H. Pink, who praised the model as a “simple yet profound technique.” This is a particularly good read for those with a jam-packed schedule: you can take a lot away from it whether you read from start to finish in a couple hours or break it up into 15-minute increments.

While we will be the first to admit that it can be hard to carve out time for reading, these books are definitely worth the commitment. They will not only inspire you to embrace new, innovative approaches in your organization, but they will empower you to implement them for a stronger, more productive organization.

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