Understanding Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

By hrlineup | 08.06.2022

Employers need to understand the drive behind their employees’ good performance and retention. It is essential that you keep motivating your workers to perform outstandingly at work and enjoy their duties. You can easily accomplish this by practicing two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

Understanding these types of motivation is helpful in performance management. You can boost your organization’s productivity and employer brand by finding out what makes your employees happy. For this reason, we prepared this article to take you through the meaning of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. In addition, you will know their importance and why implementing them in your business could boost its productivity.

What Is Intrinsic Motivation?

Psychology experts call this type of motivation passion. If you are passionate about what you do, you will be self-driven, aiming to accomplish your goals and personal/professional growth. Moreover, with intrinsic motivation, your behavior is driven by your internal desire to go beyond work limits. Note that intrinsically motivated employees tend to work freely with zero supervision. They always want to accomplish the best since they believe their work performance affects their present and future careers.

What Is Extrinsic Motivation?

Most companies have been using this motivation to help their employees perform well. It involves external factors that are tangible by the beneficiaries. However, in this type of motivation, employees perform well only because they expect something from their employers. An excellent example of an extrinsic motivator is increasing the employees’ salaries.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace

After understanding the two types of motivation, employers should identify the best way to motivate their workers. You need to know the kind of employees who prefer intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Employees who are intrinsically motivated will like situations or tasks that are challenging to them. They consider this a motivational factor to achieve their best. Moreover,  employers should create a good work environment, goals, and career paths for these individuals to thrive at work.

Intrinsic employee motivation also poses a sense of satisfaction to the employee. You need to help your employees understand that their work boosts the company’s productivity and that you appreciate their existence in the company. Additionally, giving positive feedback and praise also forms intrinsic motivation because employees want to know where they should improve their performance.

On the other hand, the employer usually determines extrinsic motivation. Without this kind of motivation, some employees would perform poorly or resign. You may think that is a harmful motivation, but it’s only human nature to want reward or compensation for their work. Unfortunately, if you compare the two types of motivation, extrinsic motivation is not as effective as its counterpart. Furthermore, one only works to receive a particular reward and not to boost their skills or performance, as in the case of intrinsic motivation.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic employee motivation in the workplace is relevant. You cannot force either of the two on anybody. Therefore, you should be able to provide the two types of motivation, understanding that it also promotes workplace diversity. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in team performance boosts the organization’s productivity. Your workers will be goal-oriented, expecting to grow professionally and receive reasonable compensation at the end.

Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation Examples

You need to learn intrinsic and extrinsic motivation examples to motivate your employees fully. This idea will help you know how to implement the two and also help you understand the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

Examples of Intrinsic Motivation

  • Knowledge increase. Self-driven individuals are always motivated to expand their knowledge and have better ideas for personal improvement.
  • Autonomy. Employee autonomy promotes engagement and increases flexibility. Additionally, employees seek more responsibility and work under minimal supervision.
  • A sense of accomplishment. All employees want to feel appreciated and valued. Therefore, employers should provide performance feedback to make their workers know their presence is valued.

Examples of Extrinsic Motivation

Employers provide tangible things to keep their employees going to work. They include increased salaries, treats, bonuses, company cars, and other allowances. Employees work hard to receive material compensation for their efforts.

Importance Of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the workplace is beneficial to both the employer and employees in the following ways.

  • It promotes employee innovation. Most intrinsically driven employees tend to be more creative and make a valuable contribution to the organization. Moreover, they focus not only on their reward but on personal growth and development.
  • It helps in drawing personal limits. Incentives may act as motivation for intrinsically and extrinsically driven employees. The intrinsically driven uses incentive to set measurable and attainable goals, while their counterparts are pushed beyond their limits to reach new productivity levels.
  • Another importance of intrinsic and extrinsic employee motivation is that it reduces labor costs. You will spend less time monitoring intrinsically driven individuals, and the extrinsically motivated will also set targets to receive rewards. Therefore, you will put more time into other productive activities because you have a self-driven workforce.
  • Operation control. Although motivation causes self-drive, some extrinsic-driven workers thrive best under supervision. Therefore, you will have time to supervise your employees and bond with them.


Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in team performance is ideal for thriving businesses. Even though innate motivation is preferred, extrinsic motivation also plays a role in creating diversity. However, you should be careful when using extrinsic motivators because you might decrease the morale of intrinsically driven individuals. Offering incentives to people who already enjoy their role may make them work too hard, reducing their drive to work. Therefore, a great employer should wisely choose the motivation style that improves production and employee retention to compete in the business world.