FAQ: Key Drivers of Engagement

What is a key driver of engagement?

A key driver of engagement is a survey question (or survey item) that has a larger impact on employee engagement compared to other survey questions.

Why are key drivers of engagement valuable?

An employee engagement survey measures perceptions about many important workplace topics. The employee feedback collected in the survey provides a lot of great insight! However, organizations shouldn’t try to solve everything at once. Similarly, organizations shouldn’t try to just fix their least favorable survey questions. Key drivers of engagement narrow the focus. They paint a picture of what matters most to employee engagement inside an organization. Some key drivers of engagement may be relative strengths for an organization. Sustaining perceptions on these questions helps sustain employee engagement. Some key drivers of engagement may be relative opportunities. Improving employee engagement is more likely if you improve perceptions on these questions.

For example, an organization’s least favorable survey question may be “I am paid fairly.” An organization may decide to give everyone a pay raise. Problem solved! However, if this is not a key driver of engagement, that pay raise is unlikely to make employees more mentally and emotionally committed to the organization. It’s not likely to make employees stronger advocates for the organization, show more discretionary effort, or even be more likely to stay working for you. That’s not to say pay doesn’t matter if it’s below market standards (this is where industry benchmarks can help!) or employees don’t understand their compensation plan. However, solving your least favorable survey question is unlikely to be the silver bullet for improving employee engagement levels inside your organization.

How are key drivers of engagement determined?

Before explaining this in detail, it’s important to understand Quantum Workplace’s employee engagement survey.

Our engagement survey is comprised of two types of items: outcomes and drivers. 


Engagement outcomes are at the core of how we measure employee engagement. They help reveal the current state of employee engagement within organizations. Outcomes are not actionable because they are targets that organizations should strive to maintain or enhance (“I recommend this organization as a great place to work” is an example; advocacy is an outcome of being engaged).


Drivers (sometimes called “cultural diagnostics”) help us figure out what can be done to influence the engagement outcomes. Drivers commonly assess perceptions of career growth and development, communication and resources, manager effectiveness, team dynamics, trust in leadership, future outlook, and individual needs.

A driver analysis determines key drivers of engagement from the list of all potential drivers.

Want a basic example of how key drivers of engagement? Quantum Workplace conducts a statistical analysis using your employees’ responses to the engagement survey.

If you’re wanting to geek out with more a detailed explanation, the statistical analysis consists of two steps:

1.) Calculate overall engagement for each respondent.

Overall Engagement = Sum of scores for all engagement outcome survey questions (typically 9 outcomes, each rated 1-6 on favorability scale, with 1 being "strongly disagree" and 6 being "strongly agree")

Example: If a respondent rates all 9 outcomes as “1,” we add the 9 scores of “1,” and the sum is 9. If a respondent rates “6” for all 9 outcomes, the sum is 54. Most overall engagement scores will fall in between.

NOTE: If your organization used more outcome survey questions or prefers different scales, the numbers used in the calculations change accordingly.

2.) Determine which survey questions (non-engagement outcomes) are most related to employees’ overall engagement ratings using a Pearson product-moment correlation, or “Pearson correlation.”

Higher Pearson correlation coefficient = survey question is more related to overall engagement

The key drivers of engagement are the survey questions with the highest correlation coefficients.

How many key drivers of engagement are calculated?

Quantum Workplace typically calculates the top ten key drivers of engagement. This list may be shorter (such as the top five key drivers of engagement) if your organization prefers a short employee engagement survey.

Does each team receive a unique set of key drivers of engagement?

No. Quantum Workplace typically calculates one set of key drivers of engagement for the entire organization. This is due to both statistical and practical reasons. The output of the statistical analysis can be strongly influenced by group size, but more practically, a list of ten key drivers allows some consistent efforts internally while still providing teams with options of where to focus. With the same list of key drivers of engagement, some key drivers may be strengths (more favorable) for certain teams and opportunities (less favorable) for other teams.

Will our key drivers of engagement change year-to-year?

Quantum Workplaces conducts the driver analysis after each census engagement survey. While your organization’s key drivers of engagement may change, we tend to see more consistency than change year-to-year (a few key drivers of engagement may differ). We believe it’s important to calculate key drivers of engagement after each census survey, though, to capture what is most important to your employees’ engagement as your organization and workforce evolves over time.

Are my organization’s key drivers of engagement typical?

While your organization’s list of key drivers of engagement are unique to your organization (calculated using your employees’ responses to the engagement survey), we do see commonalities across organizations’ key drivers of engagement. The following survey questions commonly appear in an organization’s list of key drivers of engagement:

  • I find my job interesting and challenging.
  • My job allows me to utilize my strengths.
  • This job is in alignment with my career goals.
  • My opinions seem to count at work.
  • I see professional growth and career development opportunities for myself in this organization.
  • I believe this organization will be successful in the future.
  • I trust our senior leaders to lead the company to future success.
  • If I contribute to the organization’s success, I know I will be recognized.
  • The senior leaders of the organization value people as their most important resource.
  • I know how I fit into the organization’s future plans.

As you can see in the list above, there are strong themes of career growth and development, feeling valued, and future outlook that drive engagement across organizations we partner with!

Which key drivers of engagement should we focus on?

Instead of trying to focus on and improve all ten key drivers of engagement, we encourage teams to select one or two things to focus on in the months after the engagement survey. Within the list of key drivers of engagement, we recommend that each selects:

  • Key drivers that have opportunity for improvement (to further strengthen the team’s engagement)
  • Key drivers that are in a team’s control of improving (to set the team up for success)
  • Key drivers of engagement that a team is passionate about focusing on (to ensure buy-in and shared ownership within the team)