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September 10, 2008

What Motivates Your Employees? Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards

By Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D.


I’ve been asked many times about how to motivate employees, as well as what techniques work best. According to a Gallop Poll, the top 10 motivators are:
 
1. Public praise/recognition
2. Opportunity to show off a winning call
3. Shared customer feedback that they’ve made a difference
4. Earned extra paid time off
5. Available re-training; personal development
6. Respect as viable part of organization
7. Requested to mentor new hire
8. Requested for special project work
9. Top notch info systems
10. Bright, comfortable surroundings
 
(Source: Human Technologies Global, 2007, www.human-technologies.com.)
 
As you can see, the number one motivator is public praise and recognition. However, in most organizations employee recognition is limited. Why? Because we all are very busy and don’t take the time. Or, I’m sorry to say, there still lingers the attitude, “Why should I recognize or thank him? That’s his job!”
 
Gallup says actively disengaged workers cost employers $292 billion to $355 billion per year. Furthermore, Gallup concluded that disengaged workers miss more days of work and are less loyal to employers.
 
So how do you motivate? Let’s distinguish between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.
 
Intrinsic motivation is when you want to do something. Extrinsic motivation is when somebody else tries to make you do something. There are positives and negatives to both.
 
Some people believe employees will be their most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, enjoyment, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself, and not by external pressures or inducements.
 
Further, extrinsic motivation has drawbacks:

1. It’s not sustainable; if you withdraw the reward, the motivation disappears.
2. You get diminishing returns; if the reward stays at the same level, motivation slowly drops off. To get the same motivation next time thus requires a bigger reward.
3. It hurts intrinsic motivation; rewarding people for doing something removes their innate desire to do it on their own.
However, Incentive’s 2008 Gift Card IQ Survey reported that 80.2 percent of companies use gift certificates/gift cards in their incentive, recognition, and reward programs. The top three types of cards are dining/restaurant, retail store, and entertainment. Participants used these gift cards to recognize performance (more than 70 percent), as a sales incentive (60 percent), and as spot rewards (32 percent).
 
The survey found that these cards were more effective than merchandise (60.2 percent indicated this). Further, 73.1 percent of those surveyed thought these cards were effective. Do you fall into these categories?
 
Factors that create and sustain intrinsic motivation include:
 
1. Being able to challenge yourself and accomplish new tasks.
2. Having choices over what you do.
3. Work with and help others.
4. Happy at work, liking your job.
 
In the best scenario, intrinsic and extrinsic should be combined into a complimentary fashion to promote motivation.
 
It would be remiss of me if I neglected to add that if you truly want to know what motivates a particular employee, ask them! Most people know and if they don’t, you can brainstorm with them using the above list as a guideline.
 
I also call your attention to #5, which is retraining and personal development. We are strong believers in investing in employees — the better care you take of your employees the better care they take of your customers. It is actually a win-win for you, your employees, your company, your customers, and your shareholders. Customer service, skills training reduces turnover, absenteeism, job tension, and increases communication skills, empathetic responsiveness, customer satisfaction and ultimately the bottom line.
 

Mark your calendars for INTERNET TELEPHONY Conference & EXPO — the biggest and most comprehensive IP communications event of the year.  ITEXPO (News - Alert) will take place in Los Angeles, California, September 16-18, 2008, featuring three valuable days of exhibits, conferences, and networking opportunities you can’t afford to miss. Register now!

 

Rosanne D'Ausilio, industrial psychologist and president of Human Technologies Global, writes the Call Center Training column for TMCnet. To read more of Rosanne's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi


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