How Do You Assess Your Staff's Motivation? Ask Them How They're Feeling, Says Motivii Founder

March 21, 2016 / LET YOUR GUARD DOWN

How Do You Assess Your Staff's Motivation? Ask Them How They're Feeling, Says Motivii Founder

March 21, 2016

Bulldog Drummond Practicing Uncommon Sense

We’re a team of business leaders, design thinkers, writers and brand strategists committed to doing things in uncommon ways. We’re curious about the people and places around us and fascinated by the search for what’s next. 

Written by Edmund Ingham 

“The annual engagement survey is too slow, too coarse and not very useful. Replacing them with a new set of tools run on mobile is the future way to understand the workforce.” John Bersin, Deloitte .

“Ask any CEO what their most important asset is and they’ll tell you it’s their people” says Eamon Tuhami, founder of Motivii, a new app that employees can use to record how motivated they feel, referencing a piece of research from PWC’s 17th CEO Survey, which astonishingly found that 93% of CEO’s recognise a need to change their strategies for talent

At the age of just 24, Tuhami became Head of Online Marketing at Experian Ltd – and a manager for the first time. More than a decade later after rising to Director of Sales & Marketing before leaving Experian to found two digital agencies, Digital Angle and Digital Labs, and invest into a number of digital start-ups, Tuhami looks back at his early days as a manager and recalls; “back then, being a new manager I found it hard to understand the real motivation of my team and how they felt at work – there just wasn’t any good way of obtaining staff feedback.”

“It had always seemed incredible to me that companies think of their employees as their most important asset and yet they only ask how they are feeling once a year, through an annual staff survey, or more recently ad-hoc quarterly surveys, the results of which end up with the board or senior management, but are rarely shared with the managers responsible for running teams and driving the business forward on the ground.”

Motivii’s mission statement is simple: “make work better”. The service, which includes apps and web-based tools, has been built by Eamon and his team of developers and funded by 24 different private investors; all are entrepreneurs who have run businesses and share Tuhami’s vision about the effect that Motivii could have on the workplace.

The Motivii team believe that by asking employees to use their product for just a few minutes each week, organisations can significantly improve motivation levels by tracking and monitoring motivation “scores” that employees are asked to supply themselves, voluntarily and anonymously whenever they feel like it, as well as at the end of each week when they are encouraged to submit their own personal weekly “top three” highlights of the week and “top three” goals for the coming week, helping them reflect and plan, which in itself can help improve motivation and performance.

This straight-forward two-step approach; anonymous answers and weekly reflection, can have a big benefit. Managers receive data in real time and are able to quantify what’s impacting their team via a visual, web-based analytics dashboard, identifying areas of strength and weakness, understanding what makes motivation levels dip or improve, and where appropriate provide each employee with personalised feedback and support.

Organisations also have the option to ask fully customisable “pulse” questions each week to which employees are invited to reply anonymously in order to try to improve working conditions and environment; for example: “Do you feel the office is too noisy?” or “Are you happy with current levels of staff turnover”. It is also possible to ask Employee Net Promoter (eNPS) type questions that provide a deeper level of insight.

Finally, senior management and HR are given access to anonymised real time people analytics which can help them to spot firm-wide trends. Data is shown on a normalised basis to account for the different ways in which employees may score their motivation. Motivii has already found that different business roles will measure their motivation and respond to questions in vastly different ways. Therefore, says the Motivii team, the classic way of obtaining valuable feedback needs to change.

Tuhami says “you can’t simply add up all individuals’ motivation then divide by how many people recorded their motivation as you will get a result that has no bearing on how each individual perceives motivation. Instead, Motivii understands where people would like their motivation to be, where it has been historically, then translates this into meaningful analysis.” Motivii also provides innovative analytics and insight such as word clouds and graphs which can be overlaid with timelines of company events, milestones and changes, all with the aim of linking how people feel to the impact that they have on the business.

Why such an explicit focus on motivation as opposed to happiness or satisfaction within the workplace? “I prefer to think of happiness as a goal, however, in order to get there I need to be motivated” says Eamon, a married father of three from Forest Hill in South London. “Happiness is a peak emotion – by that I mean something has to happen for someone to feel happy, but not everybody feels happy about the same things.”

“Some things that currently make us happy may not do so in the future. A good example is I could take my team out for a pub lunch everyday; to begin with it may make them happy, it may also motivate them more. However, over time they will just get used to going to the pub everyday and it won’t make them happy or motivated. I therefore need to motivate them instead of just trying to make them happy.”

“You also can’t be happy all the time. The harder something is to achieve, the happier we are when we have achieved it. This is the happiness paradox which means that sometimes you have to struggle before experiencing happiness. So what keeps you going when things are hard?” It has to be motivation”, he writes in a recent blog post. When asked, 74% of Motivii users said they’d rather feel motivated than happy in the workplace.

There are now more than 300 employees using the Motivii app; Lloyds bank, data provider Ensighten, ad-tech companies Criteo and Rocket Fuel , and more. All have signed up to the service, which costs an affordable £4 per employee, per month, which includes unlimited access to the full suite of services.

Motivii’s analytics team are in the process of examining industry wide trends in an attempt to provide further research into how to get the best out of employees whilst ensuring they are achieving the personal goals they have set themselves. Importantly linking this data to the data that companies generate in order to provide them benchmarking and further insight.

Research from Gallup suggests that 70% of employees do not feel suitably engaged and that $550bn is lost each year due to unmotivated staff. Since only 12% of employees said they would leave a job for a better salary it seems reasonable to suggest that an organisation’s best chance of cultivating a successful workforce is to not only keep a close eye on how they feel at work but more importantly actively look to improve employee motivation and engagement in order to boost productivity. This correlation has already been found by a number of research papers including Dale Carnegie, who state that companies with more engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%.

Companies like Glassdoor and LinkedIn have helped to shed light on the reality of the modern workplace but there are few accurate and real time solutions to benchmark, test and understand what staff really think about the tasks they are being asked to perform. Over the years Tuhami says he has developed a knack for telling when a member of staff might be experiencing issues of some kind and always makes an effort to engage with them and provide support where he can.

It’s a skill that takes time and is hard won however and no experienced manager can be everywhere at once. He believes Motivii can help democratise employee insight. “It’s about staff determining where they want their motivational levels to be and managers working with them to help them achieve that”, he says.

You could compare Motivii to a Fitbit band for the workplace; “we spend most of our time in work; who doesn’t want to make work better?” Tuhami is a big fan of Dan Pink’s book “Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us”; which makes clear that in the workplace it becomes about more than money. Today it’s about self-determination, planning and achieving goals (autonomy, mastery and purpose as Pink puts it) and if you get these things right you are more likely to be happy; but happiness is a by-product of achieving this combination.

“Many people use the New Year to outline new goals and reflect on what they want to achieve and everyone knows that to achieve these new resolutions they need motivation. Making work better should be exactly the same”, concludes Tuhami, before adding “This shouldn’t be a once a year thing. To make work better all employees should be reflecting on a weekly basis. What’s going well? What do I want to achieve? How do I feel?”

Originally posted on Forbes

Bulldog Drummond Practicing Uncommon Sense

We’re a team of business leaders, design thinkers, writers and brand strategists committed to doing things in uncommon ways. We’re curious about the people and places around us and fascinated by the search for what’s next. 

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