Intrinsic Rewards and Their Impact on Employee Engagement in the Workplace

CoachHub · 8 January 2024 · 6 min read

Let’s talk about what really motivates employees these days. It’s not just about the paycheck or the yearly bonus. More and more, it’s about those internal rewards that make work feel meaningful. We’re diving into how intrinsic rewards – those feel-good factors you get from the work itself – are changing the game in employee engagement.

What Are Intrinsic Rewards?

Think about the last time you felt great at work. Maybe you solved a tricky problem, helped a colleague, or finished a challenging project. That sense of accomplishment and pride? That’s an intrinsic reward. It’s all about the internal satisfaction that comes from the work itself. These rewards are about personal achievement and growth. When we nail a task, it’s not just a tick on a checklist. It’s a real boost to our morale and motivation.

Why They Matter

Recent research, like a study with small and medium businesses in Pakistan, tells us something important: when employees are internally motivated by these intrinsic rewards, they perform better. It’s not just about feeling good; it’s about doing well because of that good feeling. Employee motivation is key here – it links those internal rewards to better performance.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Rewards

We’ve all heard about extrinsic rewards – pay raises, bonuses, the works. They’re great, but they don’t always keep the motivation fire burning long-term. Intrinsic rewards, on the other hand, are the gifts that keep on giving. They’re about long-term satisfaction and continuous personal growth. This isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for keeping employees motivated and on top of their game over time.

Man at work motivated by intrinsic rewards

The Changing Face of Employee Motivation

In recent years, the workplace has seen a lot of change. From remote work to shifting job roles, what drives employees has evolved too. Intrinsic rewards are now front and centre in keeping teams motivated and focused. They’re about finding joy in the work itself, and that’s becoming increasingly important in today’s dynamic work environment.

Real Data, Real Insights

Let’s look at the numbers. Studies show that when employees are motivated by internal factors – like a sense of achievement or growth – they do better work. This isn’t just feel-good theory; it’s backed by solid research. There is a clear link between intrinsic rewards, employee motivation, and better performance. This tells us something crucial: when people are internally driven, they bring their A-game to work.

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Strategies for Implementing Intrinsic Rewards

So, how do we make intrinsic rewards a real thing in the workplace? It’s about creating an environment where these rewards can thrive. Think about setting up systems and cultures that recognize not just the big wins but the small steps too.

A Little Recognition Goes a Long Way

Recognition is a powerful tool. When employees feel their efforts are noticed and valued, it boosts their internal motivation. This can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or a note of thanks for a job well done. The key is to make it genuine and consistent.

Growth Opportunities Matter

People want to feel like they’re going somewhere in their careers. Providing opportunities for learning and development is a huge intrinsic motivator. This could mean offering training sessions, mentorship programs, or even just giving employees time to work on projects they’re passionate about.

The intrinsic reward of a group accomplishment

Digital Coaching: A Game Changer

Digital coaching is becoming a key player in boosting intrinsic rewards at work. It offers personalised development plans, gives recognition for individual achievements, and creates a sense of belonging. It’s not just about ticking boxes; it’s about making each employee’s journey unique and fulfilling.

The beauty of digital coaching is how it blends technology with an understanding of human psychology. It helps employees set and reach personal goals, fostering a sense of progress and achievement. And when employees see their growth and know their work matters, that’s a powerful motivator.

One of the coolest things digital coaching does is give employees more control. With resources and guidance at their fingertips, employees can steer their own development. This autonomy is a huge intrinsic reward, making employees feel trusted and capable.

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Global Perspectives Through Hypothetical Scenarios

Scenario 1: Tech Innovator in Silicon Valley

Imagine a software developer named Ryan working at a bustling tech startup in Silicon Valley. Ryan thrives on creativity and problem-solving. When given the autonomy to innovate and experiment with new ideas, Ryan feels a deep sense of achievement. This autonomy isn’t just empowering; it’s an intrinsic reward that drives Ryan to develop groundbreaking features, contributing significantly to the company’s success.

Scenario 2: Manufacturing Team Leader in Germany

Meet Lena, a team leader at a manufacturing plant in Germany. Lena’s intrinsic reward comes from seeing her team’s efficiency improvements being implemented. When her ideas for process optimization are recognized and praised by management, Lena feels valued and motivated. This sense of recognition fuels her continuous pursuit of excellence, benefiting both her team and the company.

Scenario 3: Retail Manager in Asia

Now, picture Lei, a store manager at a popular retail chain in Asia. For Lei, the reward comes from creating a positive impact in the community. When Lei’s store organises local events or contributes to community projects, it gives him a sense of purpose. This connection to the community is an intrinsic reward that enhances Lei’s commitment to his role and the company.

Scenario 4: Healthcare Professional in South America

Finally, consider Sofia, a healthcare professional in South America. Sofia’s intrinsic reward is derived from her personal growth and the impact she has on patient care. Opportunities for professional development and seeing the direct results of her improved skills on patient outcomes give Sofia a powerful sense of accomplishment and pride in her work.

Man feeling the intrinsic reward of working with a cohesive team

The Future of Intrinsic Rewards and Employee Engagement

As we move forward, the role of intrinsic rewards in the workplace is only set to grow. With the evolving nature of work, especially in a post-pandemic world, employees are seeking more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for meaning, purpose, and personal growth in their roles. This shift signals a future where intrinsic rewards will become increasingly vital in attracting, motivating, and retaining talent.

Technology’s Role

Technology, particularly in the form of digital coaching and AI-driven personal development tools, will play a pivotal role. These tools will help tailor employee experiences, making intrinsic rewards more personalised and impactful. Imagine a workplace where technology not only tracks progress but also predicts and suggests pathways for personal and professional growth, aligning perfectly with each employee’s intrinsic motivations.

Cultivating a Culture of Intrinsic Rewards

Organisations will need to foster a culture that recognizes and nurtures intrinsic rewards. This means moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to employee motivation and embracing more nuanced and individualised strategies. In the future, successful organisations will be those that understand and leverage the unique intrinsic motivators of their workforce.

Practical Takeaways and Interactive Elements

So, what can organisations do to harness the power of intrinsic rewards? Here are some practical steps:

  1. Foster Autonomy: Give employees more control over their work and the decision-making process.
  2. Recognize Efforts: Implement recognition programs that acknowledge both small and significant achievements.
  3. Promote Growth: Provide ample opportunities for professional development and learning.
  4. Encourage Community and Purpose: Align work with a greater purpose, connecting employees to the broader impact of their roles.

We’ve talked a lot about intrinsic rewards, but what motivates you personally? To help you find out, take a quick and insightful quiz. It’s a fun and engaging way to understand your own intrinsic motivators and how they influence your work life. Give it a try and see what you discover about yourself!

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Intrinsic rewards are not just a trend; they’re a fundamental shift in how we understand and enhance employee motivation and engagement. By focusing on these internal motivators, organisations can unlock the full potential of their workforce, leading to higher satisfaction, better performance, and ultimately, greater success.

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CoachHub is a leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programmes for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 80 languages. Serving more than 1,000 clients worldwide, CoachHub’s innovative coaching programs are based on proprietary scientific research and development from its Innovation Lab. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. CoachHub was certified as a carbon-neutral company and consistently measures, reduces, and implements strategies to minimise its environmental impact.

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