The ABCs of employee (or board member) engagement

Motivate people by meeting their needs for autonomy, belonging and competence.

In her presentation at CUES Symposium in late January, Kathleen O’Connor, Ph.D., told attendees that research shows how engagement drives not only employee retention but also company profitability.

A professor at Cornell University and London Business School and a lead faculty member for CUES’ CEO Institute II: Organizational Effectiveness, O’Connor defined engagement as “a positive work-related state of fulfillment that is characterized by vigor, dedication and absorption.” She said that by meeting certain needs, companies could boost engagement of employees or board members. The key needs—autonomy, belonging and competence—make up her “ABCs of engagement framework.”

Autonomy: People like to be in charge of themselves and make their own decisions. They want to organize their own work schedules. When a boss tells them how to do something, they might think, “There are multiple ways to get this job done. Yours may work, but mine may, too.”


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