Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic: What it Means for Your Business and How to Motivate Your Team

Share This Post:

What drives people? Why do people behave a certain way or choose to participate in particular activities?

These are common questions that behavioral psychologists have asked for centuries. The driving force behind behavior, actions, and words is motivation.

As a leader in your company, you’re no stranger to the problem of motivation in the workplace or experiencing a lull in your business. Your employees are people, after all. They’re bound to experience burnout or lose motivation.

While burnout or lack of motivation may seem like an inevitable outcome of working 40+ hours a week for most of your life, there are ways that you can boost your company culture and encourage motivation, which will increase productivity.

What are the different types of motivation?

There are two main types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. 

Extrinsic motivation is when a person is motivated by outside forces. They either do things to receive an award or avoid a severe consequence.

An example of this is an employee completing paperwork on time because if they don’t, they will face consequences of not completing tasks on time. Or, a person works hard at their job because they might receive a raise at the end of the year.

Intrinsic motivation is on the opposite spectrum of motivation. It is when a person completes a task not because of the positive or negative outcome, but because they find the task itself rewarding and fulfilling. 

An example of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation is a child cleaning their room. A child may clean their room to avoid getting in trouble which would be an extrinsic motivating factor. However, if a child is intrinsically motivated, they will clean their room simply because they like it to be clean.

How can motivation benefit the workplace?

It’s no secret: when a person is motivated, it boosts their productivity. Similarly, when your team is motivated, your company will flourish and experience efficiency and productivity.

While it’s not possible to directly motivate your team, it is possible to create a work culture and atmosphere that encourages motivation, hard work, and productivity.

The ideal team member is someone who is intrinsically motivated. They will work hard at their job because they love it. While they still may experience burnout, what they’re doing at your company is their passion, and that will reflect in their work.

You can’t control intrinsic motivation, but you can incite extrinsic motivation by offering bonuses, rewards, and opportunities for promotions. While these are great things to offer your team, you should offer these things intentionally.

Too much extrinsic motivation and praise can create a negative effect called the overjustification effect. This can happen when there is too much extrinsic motivation which can actually decrease intrinsic motivation. This usually occurs to people who are intrinsically motivated and are given incentives on top of their self-motivation.

For example, let’s say you really enjoy quilting. Then, you start making quilts for your friends and family. Pretty soon, people are convincing you to sell your quilts, so you decide to sell your quilts on Etsy. The backorders pile up, and soon, you find yourself stressed out and feeling behind. Something that you once loved feels like a burden.

As an employer, it’s important to make sure your rewards are effective and not oversaturated. There’s a great balance to where rewards should be achievable but not freely given.

How can you intrinsically motivate your team?

Here are some ideas to motivate your team, give them the space they need to self-operate and self-motivate, and create a positive work culture.

Let your team know that what they do is meaningful.

You can’t intrinsically motivate someone, but there are things that can encourage intrinsic motivation. One thing that continues to motivate people is feeling that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

Let your team know that what they do is purposeful and positively impacts others. This could look like showing updates on statistics, sharing personal, touching stories, or just encouraging your team throughout the day.

Don’t let them lose sight of why you do what you do.

Give your team a sense of ownership.

A team that trusts one another is stronger than a team that is choked out by micro-management.

When your team has a sense of ownership and trust, they will feel a personal responsibility and connection to their work. This gives them the space they need to be creative, manage their schedule, and problem solve with their team.

Some cultures promote that trust is freely given but mistrust is earned. When you empower your team to take ownership of their work, they will likely be more productive and engaged.

Create an atmosphere that promotes growth and learning.

When you create a culture that values learning and growth, your team will be more connected and personally invested in their work. This supports the idea of ownership and purpose-driven work.

It builds trust and it allows you to invest in your team as professionals and also as people. When people feel like they are constantly learning and growing, they won’t feel stuck or stagnant in their work. 

Not only will this grow your team and increase performance and industry knowledge, but it will increase retention rates and drive innovation.

Take the time to learn about motivation and how you can encourage your team by empowering them, creating an atmosphere that promotes growth, and reminding your team that their work is meaningful.

How CCA Can Help

One of the greatest demotivators in the workplace is when an employee’s life gets overwhelmed with life’s challenges.  Corporate Chaplains of America works with businesses nationwide to provide employees with the support they need to get through life’s ups and downs. 

When you invest in professional and emotional support for your employees, you show that you care for them as human beings, not simply as employees.

At CCA, our team is dedicated to you and your team. Your chaplain is a trusted confidant that your team can go to no matter what.
Our chaplains are available 24/7 for you and your team. When your employees have someone to talk to, it can make an unsteady time seem a little steadier. Your team needs that support, and our team can be that for them. Contact Corporate Chaplains of America today to learn how to support your team as you seek to grow a thriving, healthy work culture for your team.

Is your company culture holding your business back?

Download our informational PDF guide “The Company Culture Advantage” to find out how your team’s culture could benefit from a dedicated Corporate Chaplain.