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What workers want: The top drivers of employee satisfaction

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read

Employers who want to maximise attraction and retention must be mindful of what keeps employees happy. Recent data has outlined exactly what workers are after right now.

Many workers want security and stability in their profession. This was made evident with research from Gartner revealing that Australian employee’s intent to stay with their employer jumped from 35.4 per cent in Q3 2023 to 37.8 per cent in Q4.

Similarly, overall business confidence saw an increase in Q4 2023, hitting 43.1 per cent. This was the only increase in the entire year. However, hard work saw a hit, with discretionary effort declining from 17.5 per cent to 16.5 per cent.


Neal Woolrich, director of HR advisory in the Gartner HR practice, commented on the findings: “Employees experienced a multitude of enterprise changes last year, including return-to-work mandates and technology disruptions.”

“Change fatigue, combined with the rising cost of living and a softening labour market in Australia, has many employees taking a cautious approach to their next career move.”

So, what do workers want? According to the research, the top 10 drivers of employee attraction are:

  1. Location
  2. Work/life balance
  3. Compensation
  4. Respect
  5. Manager quality
  6. Co-worker quality
  7. Vacation
  8. Ethics
  9. Stability
  10. Future career opportunity

“Organisations need to be aware that traditional retention strategies won’t work in the current environment. Leaders need to balance pay discussions with effective non-compensation EVP (employee value proposition) components, such as respect, manager quality and career progression to retain employees,” explained Mr Woolrich.

“Employers also need to think about the whole person, not just the employee, as they customise their EVP. It’s essential to understand what employees need and want from their role. An agile approach that provides a rich portfolio of experiences, support and opportunities will be key to maximising productivity and engagement.”

Recognising exactly what your workforce is looking for in their employment is crucial to keeping them happy and engaged. While general trends are important to keep an eye on, there is never a one-size-fits-all solution, and communication with workers will always prove a beneficial action.

Conversely, Gartner also highlighted the top drivers of employee attrition. Keeping an eye on these 10 themes can make sure you aren’t pushing skilled workers out the door:

  1. Manager quality
  2. Compensation
  3. Work/life balance
  4. Respect
  5. People management
  6. Future career opportunity
  7. Recognition
  8. Co-worker quality
  9. Location
  10. Health benefits

Mr Woolrich concluded: “Employers must prioritise their relationships with employees to foster strong psychological safety and trust. When employees understand that there is room to try, fail, reset and try again, they will soon start to thrive in an environment of change.”



Attrition is defined as the process through which workers leave a company for whatever cause (voluntarily or involuntarily), such as retirement, termination, death, or resignation.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.