The six key factors to full engagement

You don’t hire a hand, the whole person comes to work!

Paying attention to the human context, getting to know about one’s family, friends, spirituality, economics, even health, helps us better understand the person. It provides the framework for candour, trust and accountability in our working relationship.

For we are all unique – not just in our character, communication modalities, emotionalities, affinities and strengths – but also in how we engage with each other.

Many organisations still have a narrow view in this regard, limiting employment terms to a salary package, when in fact most seek a far more comprehensive perspective to engagement.

In our work to date, we have found six key engagement factors that play a significant role in team performance. They are Reward, Recognition, Voice, Choice, Learning & Legacy.


Financial remuneration i.e. salary or wages is not everything!
If this were true, how do account for the hundreds of millions of volunteers the world over. In fact, some of the most critical, meaningful, self-sacrificing, even, life-threatening work is often done for little or no reward.

Remuneration can take many different forms – salary is just one.

Incentives for effort, reaching key milestones, or sharing in an organisation or team’s overall results can also be quite effective.
Non-financial rewards such as a staff lunch or BBQ, health spas, movie tickets, travel, are some of just a myriad of options that may be considered.
One of the organisations we work with, for example, gives their staff additional paid holidays between Christmas and New Year. Another organises a monthly massage and therapy afternoon.
It is important, however, to understand the circumstances of each person to ensure such rewards are not misguided.


There are many for whom recognition for effort far outweighs any form of remuneration. Our research suggests this is more prevalent in advanced economies with comparatively generous social support frameworks or where the cost of living is below median wages.
Recognition too can be quite varied, and the subtle distinctions here are critical.
Understanding frequency, for example, ensures it s is not over-done.
But it must always be authentic and specific.
Knowing whether someone prefers to be recognised in public or privately is also important.

There are few things more powerful than occasionally letting someone know at the end of the day of the positive impact of their particular contribution.

In one organisation we worked with, a simple paper clip stuck to an eraser was the much sought after trophy that was awarded weekly to recognise performance.
What we do know is that lack of recognition can be a strong de-motivator. It can sometimes leave people directionless – unsure of the importance or significance of their efforts.
“I just wish my boss would tell me how I’m going,” is a common work-place catch-cry.
Interestingly, recognising behaviours that are not ideal or providing feedback on what one can do less of or stop doing can be just as effective.


Having a voice in the team is an often-overlooked engagement factor. There are many who perform far better if they are simply heard. If they get the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Often they don’t even need their opinions followed or actioned – just aired.
For some, being given the opportunity to have a voice satisfies a much-needed sense of input and ownership of the task at hand. For others, it may be that they learn by speaking or talking out things aloud.


Choice on how work is performed is becoming one of the more important engagement factors in recent times – especially where the work allows for flexibility.
It pays, now more than ever, to understand who in the team is high on choice and exactly what that means.

Whilst it is not always possible for everyone to do things their way. Providing some flexibility on how someone performs goes a long way in their overall engagement.

Comments such as, “I get micro-managed at work,” are often indicators that a person needs room to do move.
Choice can also be manifested or shaped through circumstance, emotionalises and affinities.
A parent may want the choice to start work after the morning school drop-off and and finish earlier in the afternoon – but is happy to continue their day’s work when the kids are in bed.
Another may wish to work from home. Or on the weekends.

Accomodating choice not only allows people to peak perform, it also allow organisations and teams to access talent that may not be otherwise available under more conventional arrangements.


The appetite for learning can vary significantly within a team. It can depend on one’s stage in life, career, profession or workplace. What is clear, however, is that it is fast becoming an important engagement factor.

It is not uncommon for someone to change jobs simply because they are not learning anything new or they are not being challenged enough.

Such talent losses can be avoided by paying more attention to their desire for growth and development.
“What training will I receive at work?”
“Are there any mentoring programs?”
“Is there professional development?”
These questions are far more prevalent in job interviews. And a clear indication that such a candidate has a high propensity for learning that must be fulfilled.


There’s a wonderful Stonecutter parable by the late Peter Drucker that illustrates the concept of legacy and how individuals relate to if.

One may simply see themselves as making a living, plying their trade. But for another they see themselves as building a cathedral.

Full engagement requires a manager to know the critical difference between the two.
The recent popularity of terms like ‘for purpose’, ‘social enterprise’ reflect the shift in attitudes towards more meaningful work.
Leaders have an obligation, particularly for those that place a high emphasis on learning, to connect with clarity the work they do to the organisation or team’s purpose.
More generally, there will always be greater engagement when what is being done can be easily correlated with the ‘why’ – the sense of achievement, making a difference, or what we call legacy.

The marvin Scout – a comprehensive survey tool that has been more than two decades in the making and the result of learnings from our work in professional sport and various non-sporting organisations including public, private and not-for-profit provides insights into a person’s six engagement factors. A simple dashboard that allows leaders and team members engage and perform better.


marvinHR uses proprietary analytics to gain insights in Character & Values, Communication Modalities, Affinities & Emotionalities and Engagement preferences together with the latest digital tools to assist organisations in their talent search.
Our work in management and people extends over two decades in business, sport, private, public and non-profit sectors.
Speak to Saarrah Mathinthiran on +61 8 6377 7607 –

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