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What Drives Employees To Perform? Part 5

Posted by Insightlink on 04/20/16

As our 10-part series on engaging employees continues, Robert Gray, President of Insightlink Communications identifies two key drivers of employee engagement according to the Survey of the American Workforce, a recently completed national survey conducted annually by Insightlink.

Enjoying what you do was found to be the number one driver and the single most important motivator of job satisfaction in the US today. The 6th and 7th most important drivers were found to be Advancement and Learning.


Perceptions of career advancement opportunities are closely related to reward and recognition. Organizations with strong recognition programs acknowledge their employees’ efforts, while demonstrating an interest in their futures. Successful organizations understand the need to make strides in both of areas. In fact, 85 percent of organizations with a meaningful recognition program also provide employees with advancement opportunities.

U.S. companies on the whole, though, are not much better at career planning than they are at employee recognition.

Many employees want to grow and develop in their jobs. They want to learn new skills, take on more responsibility and ultimately move up the ranks in the organization. Formal career paths and training programs help employees feel they have a career rather than just a job. However, since all employees cannot (or may not want to) move up the hierarchy, this should not be an excuse for ignoring career planning. Rather, many advocate a combination of career enhancement and career advancement. Failure to address the need for advancement has a cost in terms of higher turnover. The number one reason employees leave voluntarily is to advance their careers.


Only half of all U.S. employees rate their employers highly in learning. Here’s how to help employees design personal development plans:

  1. Establish plan purpose including the employee’s individual potential within their chosen sector, identifying what they are good at and interested in, taking account of the organizational realities and linking their plans to organizational needs as much as possible.
  2. Summarize development needs through such means as self-assessment tests, benchmarking exercises against management standards or personal diagnostics which help employees better understand themselves in a structured way. Keep in mind that each employee’s development needs will differ depending on their career goals.
  3. Identify learning opportunities, starting with the outcomes of assessment used and then encourage employees to create lists of the skills or knowledge they will need to acquire, update or improve and then realistically compare this list to their current skills and knowledge base. Identify the gaps.
  4. Set development objectives for each learning gap identified. There must be an element of challenge in these objectives so they stretch your employees as individuals and carry them to new levels of learning but the objectives must also be attainable and viable within a realistic timeframe. When you help your employees set and achieve goals, they will feel more satisfied. Rather than just plodding through each day, they can look toward new challenges.
  5. Make sure employees put plan into action, record the outcomes and evaluate their performance. Evaluation is critical to self-development because it enables employees to discover whether their development activity was worthwhile, applicable and if and how their skills or work improved.

Although employees should direct their own development plans, it is essential for organizations to encourage the use of such plans and ensure that the necessary resources and support. Employees are unlikely to create such plans completely on their own, especially in the face of resistance from their immediate supervisor. Personal development plans should be an ongoing and iterative process rather than a one-time event. The best way, we believe to find out what your employees are thinking is to conduct an employee survey and ask them. If we can help please let us know by contacting us at for more information, to get pricing click here or, contact us at 866-802-8095 ext. 705.





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Insightlink Communications are experts in employee survey design, data collection and analysis. Since 2001 we've helped companies of all sizes measure and improve their employee satisfaction and engagement.

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