Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., Columbus, Ohio, has become the first corporate sponsor of the Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement at Northwestern University. The Forum was launched in 2002 to research the link between motivated employees and customers and long-term business success.

“This is right in line with our vision of how things should be,” says Lorin A. Young, officer, strategy planning and financial management for the Office of Administration at Nationwide. “We aspire to be a great company to do business with. But the premise is that in order to be that, you have to be a great company to work for.”

Young learned about the Forum by reading an article written by one of its founders, marketing guru Don E. Schultz, in an American Marketing Association newsletter that challenged companies to allocate just 5 percent of their external marketing dollars to their “internal marketing customers,” including employees. He says it took no time at all to convince his boss to fork out the $10,000 fee to become a sponsor. In turn, his company will provide input into the Forum's research agenda.

“Our primary goal is to quantify the connection between the engagement of our associates and customer satisfaction,” he says. “The challenge is that this is a difficult area to establish measures that people will buy into and accept. People have tried many times over the years.”

The Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement is part of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism's Integrated Marketing Communications Department. The Forum is sponsoring a free half-day seminar on September 16, the first day of The Motivation Show in Chicago, during which Young will be a panelist. For more information, visit www.performanceforum.org.