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Why Measuring the Unmeasurable is the Right Thing To Do

Peter Drucker was right when he wrote: “What gets measured gets managed.” But why is this so often taken to a false corollary like “what can’t be measured isn’t worth trying to manage?” When it comes to employee engagement, our go-to measure for human capital shows that a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are not engaged. And the needle hasn’t moved in decades.

Could it be possible that we are measuring the wrong things, simply because the “woo woo stuff” like fulfillment, meaning and purpose are just too hard to quantify? From my own experience of 20+ years working with or in Fortune 500 companies — and according to the empirical research on the topic — matters of the heart are typically trumped by the pressures of deadlines, sales numbers, shareholder value, and other easy to quantify “business” metrics. Or worse yet, purpose and meaning are obliterated by misguided leaders whose demands are based on industrial age thinking and heavy-handed approaches to motivation.

Countless research studies validate the correlation between profit margins and levels of employee engagement and motivation. This correlation is completely logical; employees who are happy and fulfilled at work perform better and are more likely to go above and beyond. Additionally, according to studies conducted by the Center for American Progress, the cost of employee turnover varies based on the role of the employee and their salary/wage level. In one study, the CAP found the following:

  • For positions earning less than $30,000 per year, the average cost of replacement was 16 percent of annual salary. For example, it would cost $3,328 to replace an employee earning $10/hour.
  • For positions that earn between $30,000 and $50,000 per year, the cost of replacement was 20 percent of annual salary.
  • For executives earning high salaries, the cost of replacement was 213 percent of annual salary. That means an executive earning $100,000 would cost a whopping $213,000 to replace.


The skills gap is widening, unemployment in the U.S. is at its lowest rate since 2000, and nearly 60 percent of employers struggle to fill job vacancies within 12 weeks. But if you think it’s tough to find great talent now, new research from the Korn Ferry Institute suggests that things are only going to get worse. By 2030, the global talent shortage could reach 85.2 million people — costing companies trillions of dollars in lost economic opportunity.

Preparing for such a seismic crisis is overwhelming, and figuring out where to even start can be puzzling. This is why MotiveX has spent 3+ years researching and identifying what propels employees to success: intrinsic motivation.

According to the Business Dictionary, intrinsic motivation is defined as “stimulation that drives an individual to adopt or change a behavior for his or her own internal satisfaction or fulfillment. Intrinsic motivation is self-applied and springs from a direct relationship between the individual and the situation.” With this definition in mind, having indicative insights into what motivates employees allows companies to focus their resources on creating situations in which employees don’t need to be bullied or bought, but rather ones in which they are naturally “stimulated to self-apply.” Accomplishing this goal will lead to better retention rates and help organizations be fully-prepared for the challenging years to come.