Pink’s theory set to drive up employee motivation and engagement

DriveIt is safe to say the pages of many motivational theory books have become a wee bit tired over the years. We have become accustomed to the seeing the same names floating around time and time again – Maslow, Herzberg, McGuire, Winslow, McKellend and Drucker to name but a few. Undoubtedly these motivation experts revolutionised the way we engage and inspire our workforces, but it is no surprise that when fresh ideas come to light the industry welcomes them with open arms!

Motivational author David Pink released his New York Bestseller (and one of Amazons top 100 books) in 2010 entitled ‘Drive’. In this, Pink argues that the ‘carrot and stick’ approach, whilst it worked in the 20th century, is not relevant for today’s workforce. By combining scientific knowledge from the last 30 years with relevance to what today’s businesses actually want, Pink has devised a straightforward and modern approach which can be tailored to suit an organisations’ needs.

‘Drive’ examines the 3 elements of true motivation:








This refreshing angle on motivational theory has been a topic of discussion for many in the industry. One being Jevita Nilson who in an article from Checkside Online titled Motivation revamped: A summary of Daniel H. Pink’s new theory of what motivates us’ supports Pink’s theory of how it fits more closely with modern jobs and his suggestion of having one approach which is based on SDT (self determination theory).

Both Nilson and Pink explain that:

“SDT proposes humans have an innate drive to be autonomous, self determined and connected to one another and that when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives”


Nilson devised a number of initiatives around Pink’s revised motivation theory which can assist organisations to motivate their employees effectively. Well worth a read if you are a professional charged with engaging your workforce.



John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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