Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation and Employee Satisfaction

With a new generation starting to enter the workforce, the composition and function of organizations are starting to change. This new group of young adults was raised in an era where they were always face-to-face with new and remarkable technologies, challenged to use their own judgment when working through problems, and taught to take pride in work they find meaningful. This has changed what these new workers have come to expect from employers and from their role as an employee. Interestingly, new workers also seem to be motivated differently than in the past.

Motivation is a key factor in increasing worker productivity, as well as reducing turnover and lost time. In past years, employers have assumed that employees would be better motivated by physical rewards, such as money or vacation time. While this may still be true to some extent, present day workers have also been noted to find more motivation from within, linked to emotions and feelings. Noting the differences and purposes of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation will help managers understand how they can best motivate their employees and ultimately help their company. The team at WorkSTEPS has a deep understanding of the changing work environment as well as the upcoming generation of employees. We will work with managers to help them better understand what they can do to strike a balance between motivating factors so that they reach optimum employee satisfaction and productivity.

Extrinsic Motivation

The drive psychologists call extrinsic is the motivation that comes from external or tangible rewards. A different party from the employee controls the rewards, including when and how much will be given. Extrinsic rewards include the following:

  • Increased salary
  • More vacation days
  • Promotions
  • Better office space or parking spot

While extrinsic rewards have proven to increase motivation and productivity, it is not long lasting. After receiving the reward, employees will have increased satisfaction and productivity until the newness of the reward wears off. Eventually, they will get over having received the reward and will return to their old amount of productivity until offered a new extrinsic reward.

Intrinsic Motivation

In contrast, intrinsic motivation is the drive that comes from within an employee. It is a psychological reward that comes from an employee being proud and satisfied with their work. Examples of intrinsic rewards include the following:

  • Making the employee feel appreciated for their work
  • Making sure that an employee’s accomplishments are well recognized
  • Treating employees with care and consideration
  • Allowing employees to have at least some control over their own work
  • Encouraging employees to challenge themselves and follow interests

Intrinsic motivation is all about taking employees thoughts and feelings into consideration. They will be more motivated to do their work if they feel that they are competent and appreciated in doing it. If they are proud of the work they are doing, they will be more willing to do it; this leads to increased production, increased satisfaction, and reduced turnover.

With this in mind, it is important to note that extrinsic rewards are still important. Not having an adequate salary or benefits can act as a big de-motivator for employees. But extrinsic rewards can only go so far. When it comes to efficient, long-lasting motivation, intrinsic rewards are the way to go. The trained professionals at WorkSTEPS are experienced in working with both employees and managers to help them understand and communicate about how they can be better accommodated and motivated. Our team is devoted to helping companies reach maximum employee satisfaction and productivity while reducing the amount of lost time and employee turnover. If your company is looking to optimize the functionality of the employer-employee relationship, contact our office at (512) 617-4100.