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Is everyone leaving you?

30 Sep 2015 - Blog

Is everyone leaving you?


Despite the drive to increase employee engagement across the UK and the US, according to various sources of research, engaged employee numbers remain fairly stagnant, at around 30% of the workforce (give or take a percentage point or two). Unfortunately, low engagement figures contribute negatively to both the employee and the organisation. Such impacts include, absenteeism, lateness, decreased work performance, negative effects on culture due to unhappy employees, and last but by no means least, high employee turnover. So what is going wrong and what can we do about it?

Welcome to our ‘Oldie but Goody’ series! Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reviewing some of the popular engagement theories of the 21st century, and using them to talk about some of the major issues we still face in the workplace today.

Today’s topic is Daniel Pink’s theory of motivation, and we’re looking at how it can help you to reduce employee turnover.


Daniel Pink’s theory of motivation

Daniel’s theory suggests that if employees have autonomy in their work, the opportunity to master skills, and have a sense of purpose, they will be more engaged. And, engaged employees are more likely to stay with your organisation. So, does autonomy, mastery and purpose really make a difference?



In general, people have the desire to be, at least partially, self-directed in their work. When people feel that they have little or no room for independence, and have no ownership over what they are doing or how they do it, they become despondent, bored, restless and uncreative. Giving people the space to take control of how they approach their work and the tasks they do, even if only occasionally, can increase their motivation and commitment to your organisation.

“You probably want to do something interesting, let me just get out of your way!” 

Source: Kenneth Wallace, discussing Daniel Pink’s theory of motivation.


Many psychological theories suggest that humans have an innate desire to learn. This is evident in the various hobbies and interests that people adopt, which allow them to develop new skills for no end other than enjoyment and a sense of fulfilment. By providing the resources and time to allow someone to become a master at a workplace skill, we make their working world a more satisfying place to be, and with satisfaction comes a reason to stay.



“Employees will not put sustained effort into a new kind of behavior if they have only a rational understanding of why it matters to the company; it must mean something much deeper to them, something that they know will have an effect on their personal growth. Giving them an emotional connection to the new behavior can trigger that shift in perspective.” Gita Bellin and Michael W. Rennie, for McKinsey and Company. (Link to full article at the end of this post).

This quote explains the need for employees to have a purpose to alter their behaviour. When people have a personal belief in a purpose, they are more likely to have the desire and commitment to work hard to achieve it, and they will want to stay with the organisation to do so.


Final Thoughts

Employee engagement is about creating a culture that people want to be part of; a culture that gives them the chance to be creative, allows them to develop, and gives them a sense of purpose. Creating a culture that fosters these factors encourages great employees to stay with you on your organisational journey and give you their best while they do so.


If you wish to view the video of Kenneth Wallace talking through Daniel’s theory, you can access it through a simple YouTube search. Check back in with us next week to read more snippets from our ‘Oldie but Goody’ series!

Further Sources


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