The pressing need to engage employees, customers, and stakeholders

Every organisation understands the pressing need to engage employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders in their business journey. Furthermore, even organisations with mature employee and customer communication strategies still face the challenge of how to move beyond awareness into the implementation and embedding phases.

A big part of the challenge is being heard through the competing messages that your audiences are being bombarded with 24/7. How do you cut through the chatter? What tools and models should you use to accelerate and smooth the process?

Find what motivates people

One of our favourite models is based on the insight that people are motivated in many and multiple different ways. Understanding what pushes their buttons and leveraging that knowledge will encourage your audiences to hear you and act on what they hear.

We call this model ‘The Seven Currencies’. You can probably guess the first one…

1. Money

Money is something we all need. But according to research from Professor Sir Angus Deaton of Princeton “income makes no difference to stress, worry or anger” and over about $75,000 pa it doesn’t make people any happier.1 Which is why we need to consider other currencies that engage our audiences.

2. Time

Time is also a precious commodity, and one that many organisations consistently fail to value. In his analysis of wellbeing, psychologist Daniel Kahneman concludes “the easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time.”2

3. Social contact

Then there’s social contact, a currency that’s hardwired into our brains. It improves productivity and underpins the provision of society’s essential services.3,4 It also helps us find purpose in life and, for many of us, in the workplace too.

4. Information

Information is also currency. We crave a better understanding of our world and the people in it. Half the global population live on the Internet, and nearly 5bn use a mobile phone.5,6 We all demand the currency of connectivity!

5. Skills and learning

Skills and learning are an essential currency for achieving our goals. Whether enthusiastic amateur or seasoned pro, our nature is to turn our knowledge into practice, then pass those skills on to others.

6. Space

Space is of a long-time currency. As land, it once bound vassals to kings and gave the church its power. Today habitable space is sold as homes, working space as offices. We trade our space temporarily to others (see the growth of Airbnb). We all need it – space to breathe, to think, to live.

7. Objects

And finally, objects are a powerful currency in their own right. They have utility (e.g. for warmth, light or as enablers of social contact), they shape our sense of self and how others regard us, and they can hold deep emotional resonance. Simple things really do mean a lot.

Engage, inspire, empower

Those are the seven currencies, and by understanding and applying them any business can better engage, inspire and empower its employees and its external audiences.

We’ve brought this insight to bear with a wide range of clients. For example, we recently used the seven currencies model to help a major retail business shift its perspective on what might be possible (and unique) about its refreshed colleague recognition programme. We’ve also found that the model is a useful filter for our own approach to creating ideas or exploring opportunities for engaging and motivating any audience.

If you want to access more of our leading-edge tools for colleague, customer and stakeholder engagement and behaviour change, please fill in our contact form and get in touch.


1. The Great Escape: Health, wealth, and the origins of inequality, Angus Deaton

2. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman.

3. Social Physics, Alex Pentland

4. Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Matthew D Lieberman