Employee motivation is one of the most critical components of a successful organization. In fact, a staggering 68% of employees report active disengagement from their work, and 50% of employees are leaving their current jobs due to burnout.
Focusing on employee motivation has never been more critical.
It’s not enough to just double down on quality recruitment or offer competitive wages. Employee motivation is a complex and tricky endeavor, and employers must think outside the box to inspire their teams.
Extrinsic Motivation vs. Intrinsic Motivation
There are two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation refers to actions or behavior driven by internal rewards. Extrinsic motivation refers to actions or behavior driven by external rewards. Here’s an example:
A student has a Physics midterm coming up, so they study all night in the hopes that they get a high score. In this situation, the desire for a high grade, passing the class and praise from the professor are all examples of extrinsic motivation. The student is studying in the hopes of receiving external rewards.
If that same student just loved the study of matter, energy and motion in relation to time and space, and frequently pulled all-nighters learning as much as they could on the subject, it would be considered intrinsic motivation. Learning about something they deeply love is rewarding enough. The high grades and praise are just a bonus.
Why Should Organizations Embrace Extrinsic Motivation?
Extrinsic motivation is essential because there are usually aspects of almost every job that aren’t intrinsically motivating. Some people may not always want to fill out reports, organize their desks, attend a meeting or make a sales call.
That’s not to paint an employee or job in a negative light. Sometimes, work just isn’t fun or exciting, but it doesn’t change the fact that those things must get done. Extrinsic incentives and rewards motivate people when their brains and hearts won’t.
5 Extrinsic Motivation Examples in the Workplace
Getting paid is an example of extrinsic motivation, but it often takes more than that to motivate and excite employees about their work. Financial compensation only goes so far. Here are five strategies and examples of extrinsic motivation in the workplace that every employer should know.
1. Set Expectations and Be Consistent
Setting expectations and consistency may seem obvious, but the best strategies always do. Employees need to know and understand the parameters of their work and what’s expected of them.
What’s the bottom line? What is the level of performance that elicits a “job well done” or positive recognition? Often, doing their job well and receiving positive feedback is motivating enough.
Beyond that, if an employee wants to exceed expectations, they must know what those expectations are, to begin with. If the bar is constantly being moved and expectations are obscure, team members will flounder in that obscurity. Give employees the opportunity to prove themselves, and they will.
2. Offer Cash Bonuses and Financial Incentives
Admitting that salaries and competitive pay aren’t enough to motivate employees isn’t meant to dissuade employers from doing those things — just the opposite. Money is a powerful motivator. Use it.
High salaries, periodic pay raises, promotions and cash bonuses are great ways to extrinsically motivate employees. Create daily, weekly and monthly goals, and at the end of every year, reward top earners and team members who consistently exceed expectations. Once the bar is set, the best employees will rise to meet it.
3. Offer Unconventional Incentives
Of course, money isn’t the only incentive that can motivate a hard-working team. Experiential incentives can inspire just as much productivity and excitement as money, if not more.
Instead of offering a cash bonus, why not create unconventional incentives? For example:
- A gift card to their favorite bistro
- Lunch on the company dime when they reach a goal
- Extra vacation days to spend with their friends or family
- Tickets to a concert or sporting event
For these types of incentives, it’s important to tailor them to the individual employee, so be flexible. For instance, instead of buying tickets to a specific concert, set a concert spending limit. Instead of buying a gift card for a particular restaurant, offer a gift card “for the restaurant of your choice.” That way, all team members receive the same type of reward, not just those who like that specific artist or place.
4. Reward Hard Work With Positive Recognition
Employees value communication and crave feedback. They want to be challenged. They want to know that their employers sincerely value their hard work and respect them as people, so open communication can be a significant source of extrinsic motivation.
When an employee exceeds expectations, reaches a goal or hits a milestone, supervisors should use it as an opportunity to shower them with praise. Depending on the individual employee, this might mean a private email or one-on-one conversation, a shoutout on social media or an announcement in the middle of the office. No matter which method supervisors choose, great work deserves to be recognized.
5. Offer Personalized, Lifestyle Benefits
People are altering the way they think about the most important employee benefits. Companies that offer different types of employee benefits are embracing the transformation. With Fringe’s customizable platform, employers can offer extrinsic motivation in the form of lifestyle benefits.
How does Fringe work? Once employees access their Fringe account, they are allotted a certain number of points that can be used for bonuses, gift cards, tickets to events, subscriptions, memberships and more. There are over 100 different options for them to choose from.
To help motivate their employees, employers can simply log in and award team members extra points when they reach a goal or milestone. This is an excellent way to offer personalized incentivization and extrinsic motivation in one easy-to-use, robust platform.
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