Video: Five Keys for Engaging People


Engagement is fundamental. It’s a power that resides in most people, waiting to be unlocked. People want to be engaged in what they do. If the organization will build the foundation for engaging people, employees will do the rest. The five keys of ENGAGEMENT MAGIC provide an essential foundation for creating effective, lasting engagement.

View the Infographic.

Learn more about our ENGAGEMENT MAGIC Training Program.

Why Employee Engagement Should Always Be Introduced in Onboarding

Think back to your very first job. Was it at the local taqueria as a hostess? Was it delivering newspapers? Or were you a lifeguard at the community pool? You were probably doing the job for a couple of reasons: money and experience. In many entry-level jobs, the employer may be happy just to have a warm body, and because of this, they hope that the money or resume bullet point will be enough to make you stay for a while. Beyond entry-level jobs, other employers may have a similar mindset. They only need to train employees to get the job done, but there is so much more to work than knowing how to do your job. Having trained workers doesn’t equal high employee retention or superb customer service. Having engaged employees is actually the key. 

Job Basics Aren’t Enough

In a perfect world, even the entry-level jobs would come with more than a training manual that only teaches you how to do your job. The manual would come with the understanding that you are a complex being with several different needs, wants, emotions etc. And because the writer of said manual knows this, they include things like, “now that you know your job, what other skills do you have that will help you be successful in your job? What skills do you need to learn? Here’s how you find and foster a relationship with a mentor! Here are some things to remember if you want to be an engaged employee!”

Because not every job does this, we often don’t learn these things until much later, or sometimes never! I began working when I was 15 years old. Most adults considered me mature beyond my years, and in many ways, I was. But looking back, it’s painful to see how I handled and thought about certain situations.

I would always go above and beyond in my job, treat customers well, but many times grew miserable as I failed to find meaning in what I was doing, or struggled to have a relationship with my manager.  I have held many positions since then: retail, food service, substitute teacher, music teacher, administrator, and professional musician. In my 12 years of working, I never came across the idea of “Employee Engagement.” I didn’t hear about this term until I was hired by a company who “measured and improved employee engagement.”

Employee Engagement Transforms Your Work

My welcome package included a book written by our CEO called ENGAGEMENT MAGIC: 5 Keys for Engaging People, Leaders, and Organizations. That book, and the philosophies within, helped me realize that I was just getting by with past jobs.  Armed with these new ideas, I could have a career I was passionate about. Armed with these new ideas I could form a clear strategy and become a fully engaged employee who was happy at work. 

Why do I say that? Because back then, I didn’t know the drivers of employee engagement: Meaning, Autonomy, Growth, Impact, and Connection or MAGIC for short.  Back then, I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain why I was unhappy in many situations. I didn’t know that there were certain areas within my employee experience that I needed to nurture.If I had thought more about meaning, I would have found ways to do more than grin and bear my situation. If I had thought about autonomy, I could have known to ask my boss to let me shape my experience more, minimizing stress and bad feelings. If I had thought about growth, I would have learned to create formal growth plans for my present and future self. If I had thought about impact I would have learned to see and celebrate the differences I made. If I had thought more about connection, I would have made more time to get to know my coworkers and learn from them while building my network.

Let’s Create a Better Future for Our Workforce

I don’t want anyone entering the workforce to begin their journey without the concept of employee engagement. Recent research from MIT finds that, “Enterprises with top-quartile employee experience achieve twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction, and 25 percent higher profits than organizations with a bottom-quartile employee experience.”


If we can teach young employees about the drivers of engagement the first time that they get a job and then revisit these ideas every subsequent role, our workforce will be stronger, happier, more productive, and more profitable.

So, what can we do today? We can share knowledge and information. We can share this article or gift ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® to a young person in our life. If our friends and family are struggling at work, we can help them assess where they are struggling within the MAGIC model. And for your friends that are well into their careers and loving it, share with them too. A little MAGIC in our life is better late than never.

Infographic: Five Keys for Engaging People


Engagement is fundamental. It’s a power that resides in most people, waiting to be unlocked. People want to be engaged in what they do. If the organization will build the foundation for engaging people, employees will do the rest. The five keys of ENGAGEMENT MAGIC provide an essential foundation for creating effective, lasting engagement.


Two types of meaning contribute to being engaged:
Inherent Meaning, the work itself produces the meaning that the individual feels. Like a teacher helping illiterate children to read or a heart surgeon saving lives.
Associated Meaning, is not found in the work but what the work enables you to do away from the work environment.
Beware of satisfaction factors! Perks such as espresso machines, ping pong tables, and Taco Tuesdays are fun but can lead to temporary happiness and engagement.


Autonomy is not about leaving people alone. At the same time, too much supervision can wreck productivity. In autonomous organizations, it’s what gets done that matters, with less concern for how it gets done.
Hire good people, give them what they need to do their jobs well, and get out of their way. Trust your people. Without trust, autonomy is impossible. You will have a hard time engaging people at your company.


We become bored, distracted, and disengaged when we feel that our work is rote, routine, and repetitive. People crave work experiences that challenge their minds and their skills, that are intellectually stimulating, and that offer them a chance to rise to the occasion and excel in high-stress situations.
Growth does not necessarily equal promotion.
Growth goes beyond a higher position or a better parking space. It’s the desire for accomplishment, mastering new skills, reaching goals, and the need for achievement.


How do you cultivate impact?

  1. Measurement: You can’t know your impact if you don’t have any way of measuring it.
  2. Proximity: Make it easy for everyone to see, feel, and experience the results of what they do every day.
  3. Context: Shape your story in a way that helps people see the value of what they’re doing.
  4. Value: Find a way to reward and recognize impact at the individual, team, and organizational level.


Connection is about “we” rather than “I” or “they.” Lack of connection leads to isolation and alienation.
Trust is the currency of connection.
It’s the building block of culture, because an effective culture is one that evokes thoughts like, “I can trust this company to align with my tastes and interests and to represent me, and what I care about, to the larger world.”
If you follow these five keys, you will have a much better shot at engaging people at your organization.

Learn more about our ENGAGEMENT MAGIC® Training Program.

Podcast: Meet The Consultant – Dave Long, MBA

In this episode, we sit down with DecisionWise VP of Assessment and Senior Consultant, David Long, MBA. We discuss his career and his approach towards engagement, consulting, and leadership.

David is a Senior Consultant at DecisionWise, where he directs organizational change initiatives, including employee engagement surveys and employee experience initiatives for clients around the world. His main area of focus is guiding and facilitating change in organizations, resulting in a more engaging employee experience. He regularly works with leadership teams to evaluate current levels of engagement, potential courses of action, and organizational readiness for change.

Prior to joining DecisionWise, David worked in the finance industry with both The Vanguard Group and Wells Fargo. He also spent time as an entrepreneur, building a property management company, which he later sold. He has also worked in human resources at Adobe where his focus was creating systems to encourage performance discussions between managers and direct reports.

David received a Master of Business Administration degree from the Marriott School of Management at Brigham Young University where he specialized in Organizational Behavior and Human Resources. He also has an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University in Finance.

Podcast: Understanding the Vision and Goals

In this episode, we discuss the idea of understanding the vision and goals of an organization. We tackle questions like:

  • How do you align leaders around a common direction?
  • How do you set organizational goals that are meaningful to your team?
  • What can managers do to help their direct reports understand the vision of the company?

Learn the answers to these questions and more in this insightful conversation between DecisionWise consultants, David Long and Charles Rogel.

Additional Resources: