There is a disengagement epidemic consuming the U.S. workforce. 66% of the U.S. workforce is disengaged according to Gallup’s 2018 State of the American Workforce. This is despite landmark investments in employee engagement, up to $720 million per year according to ERE Media and one of the lowest unemployment rates in fifty years.

So, as a leader, how do you engage and motivate your employees?

Thought leaders have written hundreds of articles and books on employee engagement. As a busy leader you probably don’t have the time, nor the energy, to sort through all this information to find actionable strategies to engage your team.

I’ve done the work for you and identified the top five best books for leaders on employee engagement.

Top Five Best Books on Employee Engagement for Leaders

The top five best books on employee engagement for leaders are the following:

  1. The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni
  2. Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT by Paul Marciano
  3. The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman
  4. On Fire at Work by Eric Chester
  5. Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White
  1. The Truth About Employee Engagement by Patrick Lencioni

“Three underlying factors will make a job miserable, and they can apply to all jobs regardless of the nature of the work being done.”

Business guru Patrick Lencioni addresses the problem of workplace misery in his sixth fable. He provides managers with a “job misery model framework” to address the three primary causes of job misery: anonymity, irrelevance and immeasurement.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are three pillars of work misery: immeasurability, anonymity, and irrelevance.
  • Lencioni provides an actionable framework within these three pillars.
  • The engaging characters in his “fable” illustrate specifically how leaders can apply this framework.

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

“Managers, leaders, and human resources professionals must be willing to give up traditional beliefs about the role of motivation and factors that affect employee motivation if they are to deal effectively with today’s workforce.” 

Dr. Paul Marciano identifies seven key factors that drive employee engagement – factors that have nothing to do with individual reward, which he holds primarily recognizes people who are already engaged. He provides strategies that empower and drive teamwork, ultimately leading to maximum ROI for any organization. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The book offers evidence and understanding of why reward and recognition don’t work.
  • Marciano introduces his RESPECT model based on seven key drivers of employee engagement.
  • Actionable insights give tools to troubleshoot relationship and performance issues.

3. The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman

“The secret to happy workplaces isn’t spending more money. It’s about creating the conditions that allow employees to do their best work.”

Award-winning psychologist Ron Friedman applies the scientific rigor to the question of employee engagement.  His stories offer profound and surprising insights on how to create a workplace where people can truly thrive. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Friedman’s focus on psychology offers counterintuitive strategies.
  • He highlights the unconscious behaviors that can damage employee loyalty and happiness.
  • The psychological impact of office spaces can significantly affect employee engagement.

4. On Fire at Work by Eric Chester

“The time has arrived to ignite passion in your people and prevent them from burning out.”

Leadership expert Eric Chester sat down with over twenty-five CEOs and Presidents at top companies to learn their best practices for employee engagement.  Chester maintains that engagement, however, is only the starting point.  Employees who are content and committed at work also bring their best performance to the table.                 

Key Takeaways:

  • Corporate culture does not need to be a cut-throat, winner takes all hierarchy.
  • Core values within the C-suite must be reflected throughout the entire organization.
  • A great work culture – one and retains talent – truly takes care of its employees, beginning with compensation.

5. Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Gary Chapman and Paul White

“Gallup reports that almost 70% of the people in the U.S. say they receive no praise or recognition in the workplace.”

Positive relationships at work are a key driver of employee engagement and happiness. No one likes to feel invisible or discounted. Gary Chapman and Paul White provide strategies for managers improve morale and communicate authentic appreciation. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategies to communicate authentic appreciation in order to boost employee morale.
  • Explores different types of employees require distinctive forms of appreciation.
  • Work is about more than production; it’s also about nurturing the human spirit.


Ready to explore how we can help you or your organization engage and motivate your employees?

Let’s talk.  Schedule a 20-minute call to discuss your needs and determine whether a coaching or consulting program is right for you or your company.


  • Carson Tate

    Productivity Consultant •Speaker • Author • Leadership Coach