Should you ‘micro motivate’ staff?

Should youMicro motivation is the concept of structuring a motivation scheme around individuals within an organisation, rather than simply offering a one-size-fits-all group scheme across the entire workforce.

The first point to make is that a generic approach to motivation isn’t wrong. It can achieve great results in a well controlled way.  However, as ever, there is an argument to say that a more in-depth understanding of your target audience can potentially provide a better return. What’s important is to assess the results you are achieving with a generic campaign and project what percentage increase you might achieve through a micro approach. It might be that the costs of a micro approach outweigh the benefits, having said that, technology is now able to facilitate this in a cost effective manner. The use of web based platforms and automated, personalised communications can be driven from individual profiles.

Of course there is an appetite for such an approach. We are all far more savvy consumers these days, with an extensive choice of products, prices and service. So allowing individuals the same choices at an incentive level could be much more motivational. As ever, the mix of elements that influence each individual’s motivation is wide and varied. However, we will get far greater buy-in and performance, if we utilise an individual motivator for each individual user. Given that the manager – employee relationship is essential to an engaged workforce, it would also help generate understanding and aid performance discussions. Particularly given that 51% of middle managers feel they lack influence when offering discretionary rewards (Park’s Management Agenda 2009 Survey).

Despite technology providing an improved ability to personalise, should we bother? Is it cost effective when the additional time for each manager is considered? Of course, in one sense we are merely trying to widen a purely results based performance discussion between managers and employees into a fuller, more detailed conversation. These choices are then incorporated within the motivation programme. For some this might be an increased level of benefits, for others a specific type of travel reward and for others a training opportunity might be the motivation required to perform. Perhaps the correct approach is segmented micro motivation. A segmented approach could focus personalised micro motivation on the upper quartile, those who are likely to respond positively and will generate a better return. The remaining quartiles would receive a more generic programme and would be invited to qualify for the personalised, micro approach. Essentially we’d invest resource where the greater return is, allowing a highly measurable programme. This is an approach that we have often seen specifically within the automotive and pharmaceutical sectors, but there’s plenty of scope to expand elsewhere.

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