Motivation plays a crucial role in the way that we enjoy work. Employers have a vested interest in learning about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation examples in the workplace.
However, when we start to learn the difference between intrinsic vs extrinsic motivation, it’s clear that different types of motivation can be effective. Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal desire to do something for no reason other than that internal desire.
Extrinsic motivation comes from an external force, outside of us and our desires, that motivates us to do something. These key differences make it important to understand when each intrinsic and extrinsic are most useful and how to motivate yourself to enjoy what you do.
This post is all about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation examples in the workplace.
EXAMPLES OF INTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN THE WORKPLACE:
1. You develop a sense of accomplishment from your work
You enjoy your work because you feel like you’re achieving something. Maybe you value the product of your work or you value the process of creating the product. Regardless, you appreciate what you do and the fact that you’re creating something.
This example of intrinsic motivation is important because it gives you the chance to appreciate your work wherever you work.
You may not be working your dream job. But, you find the motivation to do the work because you enjoy the personal satisfaction you get from completing a project or shift.
2. You have a sense of autonomy with your workload and expertise
There’s nothing more frustrating than feeling like your workflow is micromanaged and controlled by your supervisor. The best work comes from feeling like you are trusted to complete work in an area where you are competent.
So, it’s important to look for a sense of autonomy in your workplace as an intrinsic motivator. Having a supervisor check on your workload and how quickly you accomplish your work can take the joy out of work and make you feel unvalued.
3. You have a sense of purpose at work
Not every job will offer a sense of purpose. Oftentimes, you’ll work a job that gives you a paycheck and not much else. You can pay the bills without connecting to your work or feeling like you’re accomplishing something bigger for the world.
That can look like taking an entry-level job to level up or it can look like working for a nonprofit that provides a valuable service to underprivileged populations.
It’s okay not to have a sense of purpose in your work and maybe you find that elsewhere. However, it’s still a powerful intrinsic motivator that helps you do your job and enjoy the process.
4. You experience personal growth the more you learn at work
You grow as you learn at work. When you develop more expertise in your area of work, you grow as a person. It’s not always possible, which is why it’s so valuable.
You deserve the chance to learn new skills, meet specific goals, and see yourself provide better employee performance. And you deserve this all for your own sake in addition to your organization.
As human beings, we naturally want to improve ourselves and get better at our jobs, living our personal lives, and feeling fulfilled. So, personal growth in the workplace is a great motivator for improved performance.
5. Your work aligns with your personal values
It’s incredible how much easier the work becomes and how much more enjoyable it is when it conforms to your values. You’ll know when you’re working outside of your values because you won’t feel good about your job.
No matter how much success you achieve, you’ll still feel a nagging sensation in your gut that tells you something is off.
Your values are your values, so this doesn’t mean that you have to work for little pay at a nonprofit that overworks you. But, it does mean that you’ll be more motivated to do your job if you feel like your work aligns with your values.
6. You have the opportunity for professional development
When your company or organization values the work you do, it becomes clear. Maybe they pay for professional development classes onsite or they give you raises that demonstrate how much you are valued.
Professional development appeals to your desire to learn and grow, similar to your intrinsic desire for personal growth.
So, it’s no surprise that working towards professional development is an intrinsic motivator for you to perform better at work. Not only do you feel valued, but you get to take something away when you leave.
7. You fulfill your basic needs
Meeting your basic needs is a low bar. But, it’s also one of the biggest types of intrinsic motivation for putting out good work. If you need to pay your bills, you need to work.
So, while this is a powerful intrinsic motivator, employers should never rely on this for employees to work. No matter how much someone needs a job, they will do much better work if they are happier in the workplace and feel valued.
Therefore, this example has to be mentioned because it’s the motivator most people have to do their work. But, it’s not the one that people should have to rely on to get the job done.
8. You experience high job satisfaction
There’s no better feeling than working at a place you like, doing work you appreciate, and feeling valued. High job satisfaction looks different for everyone.
But, it generally has some of the same qualities no matter what you do, how much you like it, or how long you’ve done it.
The goal is for everyone to find some degree of job satisfaction in what they do. That way, they can perform their job at a level that feels good to them, and that makes them want to keep performing at that level.
EXAMPLES OF EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION IN THE WORKPLACE:
1. You benefit from flexible work schedules
Flexible work schedules are enough to make anyone value their work. In the United States, we are married to this belief that working forty hours a week is the best way to accomplish our work complex tasks.
However, when we can move those hours around to our liking or demonstrate our ability to complete work in less time, then we’re more motivated to complete the work. This becomes even more true when we can work remotely, even just on a hybrid schedule.
Since COVID-19, there has been a clear shift to working from home and staying that way. Once we were pushed to realize other possibilities, we also realized how possible and beneficial those other opportunities are.
2. You earn free time from working on your own schedule
Money equals time. There’s no way around that, no matter how much we want to separate our lives from monetary value. We want to avoid working within the capitalist system that tells us to make every second of our lives productive.
However, we can use this to our advantage when it comes to our work. Nothing can motivate us to work more efficiently than the promise of free time when we finish early.
This can be a slippery slope when we think about the quality of the work. But, if this motivator is used with intrinsic motivators, we can create the ultimate workplace motivation to work diligently and produce quality work.
3. You receive positive reinforcement from supervisors and coworkers
Positive reinforcement is proven to be the most effective way to increase the frequency of a behavior. So, it makes sense that you are more motivated when you receive praise, gifts, or bonuses at work for the job you’re doing.
Classical conditioning, which is what positive reinforcement falls under, is effective for increasing or decreasing the behavior of choice. This should not be confused with motivation, although they can seem like they’re the same.
Motivation does not involve a schedule of reinforcement or punishment like classical conditioning does, so it’s important to distinguish true human motivation from conditioned behavior.
In this case, positive reinforcement needs to be intermittent, consistent, and immediate for the behavior to continue happening. This is not the same as intrinsic motivation.
It’s taught and it can go away at any moment if the reinforcement does not happen often enough or is not powerful enough to maintain the desired behavior when reinforcement is not present.
4. You enjoy your work environment and feel welcomed
There’s no substitute for an enjoyable workspace, in which people feel at home. It’s far too easy to create a work environment in which the driving force is fear. While this can certainly be a powerful external motivation, it also is not sustainable.
No human can consistently do hard work in the long term driven by fear. Eventually, people leave or burn out. So, when you have a welcoming work environment, you take joy and pride in producing good work and it makes for one of the most wholesome extrinsic motivators.
5. You can take advantage of financial incentives
Whether it’s a gift card, bonus, or raise, people want monetary rewards. Most of the time, people work only to put on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Otherwise, they’d spend their time traveling, pursuing a hobby, or relaxing.
Therefore, financial rewards are powerful extrinsic motivation examples because they get at the main motivation people have to work at all (referring back to the internal motivation of meeting basic needs).
6. You get positive feedback from your supervisor and coworkers
Positive feedback, which is a type of positive reinforcement, promotes good work. It’s important to recognize that positive feedback is most effective as a type of motivation when it’s genuine.
Give them details and an explanation as to why someone did a good job instead of focusing solely on the praise. Let them know you’re impressed, but only when that’s true.
While this is an external motivator, positive feedback can create the internal desire to excel further, which makes it one of the best external rewards.
Not only can someone else create this source of motivation. But, it can lead to internal motivation due to its connection to classical conditioning.
7. You can earn tangible rewards based on your work performance
Praise and free time are great extrinsic rewards. However, they don’t quite compare to the satisfaction of a tangible reward that you can identify and possess.
Something like unlimited paid time off, flexible working hours, or commissions can give the tangible result of what happens when you produce good work. You make that crucial sale for the company and you get a cut of the profits.
You get your work done in three hours as opposed to five and you demonstrate a high performance, then you can take time off when it suits you. These tangible rewards make it much easier to do great work because you see the direct result of good work.
8. You develop meaningful relationships with team members
Maybe you don’t love your work environment, your boss is a poor leader, and the pay is not what you’d prefer. In this case, your best source of external motivation might be the people you work with. They take a personal interest in your success and you take an interest in theirs.
Even if you don’t feel supported by your company and you have to work to meet your basic human needs, you can still find motivation among the other employees. Develop friendships with people you trust and value because it’s likely that you’ll find them anywhere you work.