When it comes to the success of a business, fostering motivation in employees is essential to creating a hard-working, effective, and ultimately flourishing business.
A highly motivated team is productive - working diligently towards an end goal that benefits the business as a whole. But what makes employees so motivated? It’s not necessarily just higher pay, but other rewards and praise, too.
This is where extrinsic and intrinsic comes into play. These two forms of motivation are essential to understand, with intrinsic motivation in the workplace being an often overlooked yet highly effective method for success. Why is intrinsic motivation so important? While extrinsic is still a great form of motivation (and one that we will define later in this article!), intrinsic motivation focuses on doing something out of enjoyment or interest - a more long-lasting form of motivation.
To understand both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in management and how to intrinsically motivate employees for a successful, highly productive workplace, you’ve come to the right place! Our experts at Trust Well Network are here to break it down.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation: What Is the Difference?
There are two main categories for motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.
First, what is intrinsic motivation in the workplace? The term “intrinsic” is defined as “relating to the essential nature of a thing.” Somewhat convoluted, right? When it comes to motivation, being intrinsically motivated means the person is driven towards productivity based on their interests or feelings of enjoyment and gratification. With this form of motivation, it occurs without an overt, external reward, relying on the feelings and associations of the individual to find motivation.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is motivation garnered from prizes, money, or praise. With this form of motivation, an employee may not be motivated to work because they enjoy it but because they will receive an external reward. This can drive them to work towards a goal with some sort of prize in mind.
Using intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in management is great for boosting productivity, but intrinsic does tend to lead to better performance in the long run.
Why Extrinsic Motivation is Ineffective in the Workplace
It’s not that extrinsic motivation is completely ineffective. Employees must be properly compensated for their hard work so they feel valued in the workplace.
That being said, it’s not feasible to provide a reward for every success an employee has, and that’s an unreasonable expectation to set that will only disappoint. This is where the issue with extrinsic motivation becomes clear. You can only continue providing rewards for so long or for certain situations, and in between rewards, an employee may lose steam - hurting overall motivation. In expecting a prize, employees will have a negative outlook when they don’t receive them.
With this context, extrinsic motivations can lead to a decrease in intrinsic motivation, damaging the motivation to provide more satisfaction to an employee in the long run. For this reason, focusing on intrinsic motivation is the best way to keep employees happy for the long haul.
How to Intrinsically Motivate Employees
So, we know the answer to the question, “why is intrinsic motivation important in the workplace,” but how do you use it to boost your individual team’s motivation? If you’re wondering how to increase intrinsic motivation in employees, it starts by understanding them.
In getting a deep understanding of your team’s personalities and what motivates them, you can do a great deal to better target their unique intrinsic motivations. This may sound challenging, but with a tool like the Core Motivation Analysis, you can seamlessly gather results based on 16 different personality types, taking a deep dive into each individual’s motivations and beliefs to better understand how to boost their productivity.
Once you understand your employees through the Core Motivation Analysis, it’s time to facilitate intrinsic motivation, and we have five ways to boost your success. Check them out!
#1 Use Flexibility as Motivation
When it comes to intrinsic motivation in the workplace, showing your employees that you trust them is a great place to start, and one way to do this is with a flexible approach to management.
Giving your employees the freedom to take ownership of their tasks, working to finish them under office hours that best suit their needs or with a few work-from-home days, can do a lot to boost their motivation. Flexible work time is a great way to show employees you trust they will get their work done and value their work-life balance as they meet their expected tasks under more lenient conditions.
#2 Challenge Your Employees
Nothing keeps a team going more than a challenge.
We are all striving to meet new standards and work towards new goals, and with a challenge, you can have an employee’s mindset on more. Engage your team with more complex tasks and clients, showing them that you trust and value their expertise on tougher tasks while leveraging their skills towards a new goal. However, you don’t want to constantly be testing their limits but presenting them with a new challenge every so often to renew their drive for their work. And the reward? A feeling of accomplishment and praise from their managers - a motivation that can last long term.
#3 Empower Your Team
Show your employees that you trust them and value their expertise by giving them more autonomy.
In allowing your employees to make more decisions that directly affect their careers, they will be more highly driven to succeed. This gives them more ownership of their results - something they will surely want to succeed with as it will more directly reflect their own choices. Plus, this kind of autonomy can give your employees a boost of confidence that further motivates them to strive for even more.
#4 Recognize Good Work
Taking the time to recognize an employee’s hard work with words of encouragement and praise shows that you appreciate their work and are simultaneously taking notice of their successes. It’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big sea, particularly in larger companies, so taking the time as a manager to recognize each employee’s wins or even their day to day successes can give them a positive mindset around their work which leads to a more productive organization.
#5 Focus on Your Employees’ Personalities
Motivations are not one size fits all. For this reason, understanding each employee’s personality will help you better provide positive reinforcements that they find beneficial. While some may love a public callout on a company town hall praising their hard work, others will prefer a more private acknowledgment. Understanding that in advance will ensure you provide just the right form of intrinsic motivation that your employee needs to boost their performance.
Sound like a herculean task to understand each employee individually? It doesn’t have to be. With a convenient tool like the Core Motivation Analysis, you can better understand all the complexities of your team in a cinch.
Examples of Intrinsic Motivation in the Workplace
Not sure how to increase intrinsic motivation in employees?
There are a lot of examples of intrinsic motivation at work that have proven successful over the years. One place to start is with mentorship. By providing career help and advice, taking the time to sit down with an employee, and show that you care about their career trajectory, you can add a lot of value to the workplace. In presenting an employee with the opportunities, they have within the company and how they can excel towards greatness, they will be motivated to strive towards success without turning elsewhere - a big win and a great go-to example of how to promote intrinsic motivation.
Another example companies use to focus on “spare time.” This focuses on allowing employees to explore their interests, actually giving them the free time to do so. This goes back to our tip to give employees more flexibility, allowing them to explore their career and their personalities by providing them with the autonomy and go-ahead to do so.
This can also be done by encouraging employees to take part in volunteer work. This will, again, give employees more autonomy while showing it’s important to the company that they take part in some bigger causes - creating positive associations with the workplace that further drive motivation.
Trust Well Network Will Help You Motivate Your Team
Ultimately, motivating employees comes down to making them feel as though they have a future in their role and are appreciated for their hard work. And while a bonus now and then can help boost motivation, an intrinsic approach will keep employees motivated for years to come.
While it’s incredibly important to learn how to motivate employees intrinsically, there isn’t a straightforward way to do so. As we’ve said before, properly utilizing intrinsic motivation in the workplace starts with understanding each unique personality on your team. And how is this done? With the Core Motivation Analysis. With our comprehensive, 66 question test (that only takes 10-12 minutes!), you can gather a deep understanding of each individual’s thinking and behavior style, using this knowledge to then effectively motivate them for a productive work environment.