Extrinsic Motivation in the Workplace

You are part of a team at work. You have been working on a project for weeks, and the deadline is fast approaching. It is not quite clear if you and your team will be able to put everything together before the deadline. Being in charge of everyone, it is up to you to figure out how to motivate your team accordingly.

Many managers turn to extrinsic motivation as a way to galvanize the employees and complete an objective. Extrinsic motivation has its benefits and problems. Below we review both and show how extrinsic motivation can help and hinder your work environment.

Extrinsic Verses Intrinsic Motivation

So what is extrinsic motivation? Extrinsic motivation is motivation where the reward exists externally. Take a job as an example. The extrinsic motivation for the job is the money that you get, which can be used as you see fit to meet your obligations. When it comes to completing a project, extrinsic motivation may be overtime pay, free dinners when working late, and anything else that you can physically give your employees.

The Benefits of Extrinsic Motivation

The benefits of extrinsic motivation are that you give your employees a direct, quantifiable benefit to completing their objective. This can be a focus from which renewed energy, determination, and effort can spring forth. Extrinsic motivation has been found to be quite successful before, and as a result is a hallmark of the corporate world. For examples, look at CEO bonuses.

The Problem with Extrinsic Motivation

The most immediate problem with extrinsic motivation and rewards is the cost. Offering these incentives can become quite costly, especially if you are working with a large team. The second and larger problem is that extrinsic motivation is a short term incentive at best. Individuals tend to work towards intrinsic goals much more then extrinsic. For example, enjoying what you do and valuing your work as important is an intrinsic goal. It is the reason why people take pride in their work and find meaning behind their actions. By constantly offering extrinsic motivation, individuals focus more on the short term reward and less on the long term benefits. The result of this can be people burning out, becoming disinterested in their work, and even quitting. As a result, extrinsic rewards are something best left to infrequent use.

Intrinsic Motivation Ideas

Author Biography
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.