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Workplace motivation: why should you embrace intrinsic motivation over extrinsic?

We all know extrinsic motivators make the world go around, but why is it that intrinsic ones nurture far more lasting results?

Reading Time10 min

We all have different reasons behind getting up each day and doing what we do daily.

So why is it that, on certain days, it can feel harder than others to get out of bed, make breakfast, do your workout, and, perhaps the most crucial thing - go to work? Usually, behind all the things we do lies motivation-or lack of it.

There are various sorts of motivation, and it just so happens that understanding why you are motivated to do the things you do can assist you with keeping yourself propelled and can assist in persuading others.

We'll discuss two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic, to gain proficiency with the distinctions between the types, and learn just why intrinsic motivation is a better long-term solution for inspiring productivity at work.

What is intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is more about self-improvement, a feeling of obligation, and acknowledging a path you want to pursue. It refers to the demonstration of accomplishing something that has no apparent external rewards.

Individuals do this because it's intriguing and enjoyable, not due to any external motivation or pressure, similar to rewards. The actual behavior is its award. It is often called "doing for its own sake".

There are numerous speculations about how intrinsic motivation develops. However, there is proof that rewards and dominance are critical determinants of intrinsic motivation.

It has been found that intrinsic motivation has more noteworthy levels of self-assurance and has been demonstrated to be more successful in expanding accomplishment and execution throughout a more extended period.

Intrinsic motivation examples 

  • The added responsibility inspires you
  • Being perceived as an essential company asset
  • You have a sensation of achievement
  • Remaining longer at work since you have trust in your performance
  • You want to change your mindset utilizing positive confirmations
  • You invest your money to be financially independent 
  • You travel to explore different cultures
  • You work in a group since you appreciate the cooperation
  • You become aware since you need to work on yourself
  • Attempting to be a good leader since you want to inspire others

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation is a reward-driven behavior that refers to individuals propelled to perform a task or master new abilities to acquire a prize or avoid punishment.

On account of extrinsic motivation, you're not finishing the task because you like it or think it is fulfilling or satisfying. Instead, you're completing this because you think you'll stay away from something unpleasant or receive something in return.

An example of extrinsic motivation is being paid to do a task. You might appreciate going through your day accomplishing different options other than work. However, you're motivated to go to work since you want a check to take care of your bills. In this model, you're extrinsically motivated by the capacity to afford your everyday costs.

In all cases, extrinsic motivation doesn't necessarily have a tangible reward, and it can also be done through conceptual prizes, similar to fame and praise.

Extrinsic motivation examples 

  • Going to work since you need to earn money 
  • Helping other people since you expect praise
  • Volunteering since that looks great on a resume
  • Going to new places since you need to post it on social media 
  • Paying taxes since you don't want to pay a fine
  • Going on a business trip since your supervisor requested  
  • Performing tasks you don't want to avoid the potential conflict
  • Dedicating more time to work since it might lead to a career advancement

The difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations

When it comes to differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation comes from within since this is the demonstration of needing to accomplish something that has inherent value to you, and on the other hand, extrinsic motivation comes from the outside since it demonstrates needing to accomplish something because it will prompt a prize.

However, the two sorts of motivation can also differ in their effectiveness.

Extrinsic motivation is helpful at times. For instance, working toward a reward or something can be beneficial when you want to complete a task that could typically be viewed as unpleasant.

While extrinsic motivation is helpful in specific circumstances, it might ultimately lead to burnout or lose its viability over the long run. 

Intrinsic motivation is commonly more effective in the long run for completing tasks and achieving goals that make you feel satisfied.

This implies that the individual has a greater sense of control over their behavior and can be more autonomous.

When is the best to use intrinsic motivation in the workplace?

There are numerous ways you can apply intrinsic motivation at work. For instance, giving and getting positive criticism is perhaps the most effective way to increase motivation.

To help intrinsic motivation among your group, be purposeful with your feedback. Positive analysis that is explicit and empowering will help individuals understand your standards and expectations. Consistently share with leaders and managers how their feedback assists you in being motivated. 

Also, team leaders must be deliberate when giving praise and positive feedback, ensuring that it is detailed, engaging, and aids you in understanding your expectations and views. However, ensure you're not giving too much praise for less significant work for your team, or they might lose intrinsic motivation.

When is the best to use extrinsic motivation in the workplace?

In specific settings, extrinsic motivation is essential for everyday work. When a leader needs to use extrinsic motivation, it's essential to offer rewards decisively. 

Extrinsic rewards can advance interest with another expertise or ability or hit a quarterly goal. Still, you should ensure that you're giving them the assets essential to take on tasks and skills they're enthusiastic about.

Rewards like recognition, commissions, and bonuses can encourage individuals to acquire new abilities or give tangible feedback beyond just verbal praise.

Work for the rewards that please you, set aside time to investigate new abilities you are interested in or gain some new practical knowledge but be aware of your limits and take breaks when you need them.

In any case, proceed cautiously with extrinsic rewards. Studies have shown that offering many rewards for behaviors and activities that people are already intrinsically motivated to do can diminish that person's intrinsic motivation by way of the overjustification effect.

In these cases, offering rewards for work that the individual already finds rewarding can cause personally enjoyable activity to seem like work which could have a negative impact on their motivation to carry on.

So, why should you favor intrinsic motivation?

Since intrinsic motivation is self-determined, the individual who has the reason decides to accomplish something based on their own goals and values. Extrinsic motivation relies upon external requests and can be very whimsical because it depends upon others to satisfy those requests.

Extrinsic motivation might function very well in the short term, however, in the long run, it is less inclined to work as well as intrinsic motivation.

As a final note, we suggest you embrace the following motivators within your company:

  • Autonomy - allow autonomy as it boosts both productivity and job satisfaction
  • Knowledge - offer your team a chance to develop or strengthen their skills
  • Purposefulness and meaningfulness - encourage your team to use their strengths and explain how each team member has helped achieve specific goals
  • Responsibility - give the employees a chance to manage every aspect of the project
  • Progress - pay close attention to the progress, as it keeps the team motivated
  • Accomplishment - remind your team of their accomplishments
  • Recognition - recognize team members as a valuable company resource
  • Social interaction - encourage opportunities for socialization and collaboration

Your take on the subject

They say knowledge has power only if you pass it on - we hope our blog post gave you valuable insight.

If you want to learn more about how we nurture motivation in our company, feel free to check out our open positions and come meet us. We'd love to hear what you have to say!