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What's Your Motivation ROI?

ROI is essential to demonstrate the credibility of the motivation industry to its external onlookers.  The motivation industry needs no convincing on the merits of measuring the success of programmes, but it is important to demonstrate to the wider audience the contribution motivation makes to the strength of the economy as a whole.  Motivation and performance improvement is not a dark art, but a science, and it should be recognised as such.  We can only do this with evidence.

Unlike the measurement of ROI in certain other business cases, you cannot simply punch in the relevant figures to an online calculation tool that will compute your ROI with the click of a mouse.  Measuring the performance improvement of individuals or groups is a complex process – you are dealing with the motivation levels and behaviour changes of people.  This is where the engagement of an external agency that places considerable emphasis on the measurement of the programme they develop for you comes in.  Ask yourself whether they have a specific research and analytics team, dedicated to providing measurement to clients and indeed to measure itself.  Not only will you benefit from the expertise of analytics professionals that can work with you to achieve the most effective measurement of ROI, but it is crucial to gather the required research and ensure completely honest responses from your participants.  This approach removes any uncertainty individuals might have about sharing their views with the organisation for fear of being criticised for their feedback.

So how should the return on investment of motivation be measured effectively?  Here are a few pointers…

1.    Consider measurement right from the start.  Measurement should not be an afterthought, something considered once the programme is complete, but worked in from the beginning at the design stage of the motivation programme.  It is therefore important to…….

2.    Understand the essential four pillars of behaviour change.  There are four critical components included in successful engagement campaigns, and each component works together to consistently reinforce your overall message.  You need to fully appreciate these four core elements of any motivation programme and how they complement each other to deliver better results in order to plan and prepare for the right measurement tools to demonstrate return on investment.  These four pillars are: Communication (bringing the programme to participants in a simple and engaging format); Education (Empowering staff to exceed their objectives); Measurement (which needs to be transparent, credible and fast); and Reward & Recognition (should be simple to understand and follow, whilst compelling & relevant to the real life of participants).

3.    Define and understand your objectives.  Sounds simple, but it is surprising how many companies don’t sit down at the beginning and consider the fundamental business reasons for a programme.  All objectives need to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based).  A major objective of almost any company is to ‘increase its market share’.  However, this is too woolly to measure.  It involves so many variables. Ask the questions “increase what specifically?”, “By how much?”, “Over what time period?”, “Of what audience?” in order to break it down into specific business objectives.  To measure, you need to be absolutely sure of the objectives.

4.    Think data.  You need to be able to collect data regarding your objective in order to measure it.  Companies tend all too often to focus on what the end reward of a motivation programme should be.  However, the measurement of motivation campaigns isn’t driven by rewards, it’s driven by data.  Remember to use a variety of sources and methods – baseline, primary and secondary.  Without data, you cannot put together an effective campaign.  In order to measure objectives, to fully demonstrate perfect return on investment, access to the relevant data is essential.  Set up an easy and clear method for collecting the data.  Consider what data you will be collecting and devise the best method for collecting and storing this data to make for time-effective and error-free analysis.  Put a system in place, in advance, that suits the type of data and method of analysis.  This will save time and reduce the risk of potential error.   And don’t forget the past - use information from earlier programmes, from last and previous years’ data (sales figures, retention levels etc) against results from this programme. 

5.    Ask yourself what is going to happen to your audience if you do nothing at all?  The only way to effectively measure ROI is to use a control or ‘placebo’ cell that will illustrate what will happen to your audience if you did not run a motivation programme, in contrast to your test cell (the group that will be incentivised).  Both cells will receive and be influenced by all the elements that continue to affect them (advertising, direct mail, company meetings, etc.), only the test cell will receive something additional – your incentive programme.  This is the only way to effectively quantify how your people’s behaviours are affected and influenced by the motivation programme. 

6.    Measure before, during and after.  The audience needs to be assessed pre-programme to determine the current status and then post-programme to determine the change in status and, therefore, the impact of the motivation programme.  Conducting audience research before the programme will drive the programme, identifying what methods and timings are required for that particular audience; for example, a web-based scheme is not suitable if 90 per cent of the target audience are on the road with limited access to the Internet.

7.    Measure every element of a programme.  Is an event part of the programme, for example?  If so, this event must be measured as an individual entity whose results all combine to provide the full programme’s ROI picture.  Again, pre- and post- research applies.  Measure sales, motivation, brand awareness, loyalty, and customer service, with the full audience, to get opinions from those attending the event, and those not.  Then measure the same elements and the same audience post event. 

8.    Participant Engagement can be a return in itself.  By utilising alternative measurables in other areas not directly aligned with the primary objective (number of hits to the company intranet and attrition rates, for example), you can potentially measure ROI.  Many HR statistics can indicate a ROI for a company, as well as the financial figures that are usually considered principle.  The results may not have been one of the primary objectives, but they are all hard costs that the motivation programme will impact.

9.    Use personalised measurement to engage participants and provide drilled-down individual data for measurement.  For example, scorecards provide simple updates on individuals’ performance, and the use of performance-based communications and full personalised reporting increases engagement rates.  It is useful in determining which groups within the organisation benefited the most/least from the programme and helps deliver an understanding of why this is the case and how it can be improved upon in the future.

10.    Finally, remember that one size does not fit all.  Every company is different.  Each has different objectives, structures and cultures, and each motivational programme needs to be tailored to each individual company.  So only by measuring the implemented programme and assessing the ROI can you determine whether, and how, that programme was successful for that company.  One programme design cannot work successfully for each and every company.

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