How are intrinsic rewards used to motivate?

Term Paper, 2001

12 Pages, Grade: A (80%)


Table of Contents


1. Motivation

2. Intrinsic Rewards



How are intrinsic rewards used to motivate?


Motivation seems to be a magical thing. No one can exactly explain, where it comes from, why people lack motivation or what motivation can make people do, but it is for sure, that everyone wishes s/he could be “a bit more motivated” for work, university, the gym and so on.

As Winston Fletcher puts it in his article in “Management Today” (1st April 2000: 34): “(…) Laziness is rarely –as most people seem to be believe- a problem of energy. It is instead a problem of motivation”. Often managers see employees being “lazy” at work, but then rushing off home and engaging in different leisure activities.

Managers need to know, why employees lose motivation and when they know the reasons, they can start to rebuild it.

But this will be outlined later on in this report.

Firstly, the report will take a closer look at motivation in general, before it attempts to explain the connection between motivation and intrinsic rewards.

1 Motivation

Generally speaking, motivation is what drives an individual to behave in a certain way or to engage in certain activities.

It is the force that makes people continue even with a difficult task where they face problems or obstacles.

It makes individuals pursue a specific aim or goal for which they are prepared to work hard and which will in the end satisfy a need or expectation.

Therefore, motivation is linked to rewards. Rewards can either be extrinsic (for example salaries or promotion) or intrinsic (for example receiving appreciation).

But one must not forget, that each individual is motivated by different factors for the achievement of different goals. Not every employee will work highly motivated only because s/he was promised a pay rise. Some employees might get more motivation from social relationships at work or appraisal by supervisors.

Furthermore, motivation is determined by criteria such as age or private circumstances of the employee or it can just vary from time to time.

V. Vroom is associated with the conclusion that there is no motivation theory that comprises all factors related to motivation (Mullins (1999): 413).

In order to understand how motivation and rewards are linked to each other the report will take a closer look at some of the theories, which deal with motivation.

First of all, researchers have been distinguishing the observations about motivation into content and process theories.

Content theories try to identify people’s needs and strengths and the goals they try to achieve in order to satisfy these needs.

Examples are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Alderfer’s modified need hierarchy, or Herzberg’s two-factor theory (Mullins (1999): 415).

Maslow’s, Alderfer’s and Herzberg’s models all identified several needs, which an individual strives for in its life and also tries to fulfil in his/her work. Maslow argued that an individual will pass through five stages of fulfilling physiological needs (hunger, thirst and so forth), safety, love, esteem and finally self-actualisation. Only after reaching the first four stages an individual is able to reach self-actualisation.

Alderfer developed the “ERG-theory” of existence, relatedness and growth, which is similar to Maslow’s needs-hierarchy.

Herzberg identified a “two-factor theory”, where individuals seek to satisfy “hygiene factors”. These describe extrinsic criteria such as job security, working conditions or interpersonal relations and so forth. The second factor is “growth factors”, such as the nature of work, responsibility, recognition and so on.

Process theories try to identify the actual process of motivation.

The most interesting examples are expectancy-based models by Vroom and more important Porter and Lawler, which will be explained a bit more detailed later on.

Expectancy theory is based on the assumption that rewards will be received for the performance given. So to speak, the employee “expects” something for his/her work effort or the motivational force.

Vroom’s work consists of three elements: Valence, the feeling about specific outcomes, Instrumentality, the relation between specific outcomes and Expectancy, the perception of what people think will happen after they put effort into their work.

Porter and Lawler have adopted Vroom’s model and put more importance into the factor of performance. They suggest, in contrast to the early approaches towards motivation, that job satisfaction is rather an effect for performance, than a cause and that only satisfaction will lead to better performance (Mullins, (1999): 429).

Porter and Lawler identified nine stages in their model:

Value of reward (similar to Valence in Vroom’s model)

Perceived effort-reward probability (similar to Expectancy)

Effort (amount of energy put into activity)

Abilities and traits (effort and performance are influenced by the individual’s characteristics)

Role perception (how the individual views its work position)

Performance (is influenced by abilities, traits and role perception)

Rewards (either extrinsic or intrinsic)

Perceived equitable rewards (rewards employees feel they should receive for their work)

Satisfaction (determined by actual rewards and perceived equitable rewards)

“The Porter and Lawler model recognises that job satisfaction is more dependent upon performance than performance is upon job satisfaction. Satisfaction only affects performance through a feedback loop to value of reward. When satisfaction follows receipt of a reward it tends to influence the value of the reward” (Mullins (1999): 431).

Porter and Lawler link intrinsic rewards and good performance to a variety and challenge in the job the employee is doing. If there is a lot of variety and challenge in the job, a direct relationship with intrinsic rewards exists and people can reward themselves for a good performance. The variety and challenge “motivate” them to put more effort into their work.

Finally, it can be said, that motivation is definitely linked with the strive for good performance and the expected satisfaction an employee will get from good work. But if employees feel they are not efficient, when they lose their “connection” to their work and do feel as if their work will not be rewarded they lose their motivation. Also, employees need appraisal from supervisors, they need to be encouraged to do good work and need to feel the challenge that more good performance could bring more rewards, either ex- or intrinsic.

2. Intrinsic Rewards

Intrinsic means innate or within; therefore intrinsic motivation is the encouragement or energy flowing from within oneself. With reference to learning, one is driven to learn by a motive to understand, brought about by one’s own curiosity. Intrinsic motivation is frequently associated with intrinsic rewards because the everyday rewards of a task are the motivating strengths that inspire an individual in the first place. Paul Chance describes intrinsic rewards beautifully,

We learn to throw darts by seeing how close the dart is to the target; learn to type by seeing the right letters appear on the computer screen; learn to cook from the pleasant sights, fragrances and flavours that result from our culinary efforts; learn to read from the understanding we get from the printed word; and learn to solve puzzles by finding solutions (1992: 202).

The basic idea behind intrinsic motivation and intrinsic rewards is that learning, both searching for answers and finding those answers is reinforcing in itself. Children are an example of this. They are the most naturally eager learners in the world. Because of this, an intrinsically motivating classroom is sure to succeed every time because it takes advantage of the natural learning energy of children. However it has been argued by Kohn that society’s emphasis on grades deteriorates the natural intrinsic motivation in children by the time they have completed primary school. Grades are an example of extrinsic rewards, others being tokens or praise, which in this case are the opposite of this argument. ‘Regardless of bias, experts agree that intrinsic rewards are by far the most successful reinforces because they teach on their own. The problem lies in children who do not recognize their own sources of intrinsic motivation.’ (Chance 1992). It is here that the role of the teacher is important in using management methods, which draw on students’ natural motivation.

Following on from this, intrinsic motivation is particularly relevant in the work place. Things like purpose, passion and mission motivate employees with intrinsic motivation. Therefore, in this case intrinsic rewards are, ‘The good feelings people get from the work itself, feelings like enjoyment from the very act of performing the tasks involved, excitement about confronting and overcoming challenges, satisfaction in helping others or accomplishing something worthwhile and pride in doing a job well.’ (Deeprose 1994).

With regard to the work place people are motivated extrinsically through external things such as money, recognition and rewards. Although these are effective and can be a good way of showing appreciation to employees, they don’t provide the lasting benefits that intrinsic rewards do.

It is easy for a manager to find extrinsic rewards to give to employees. The manager can give out bonuses, gift certificates, and meaningful gifts or even arrange an awards dinner in recognition of outstanding achievements. However, knowing that an intrinsic reward comes from within one’s self, how can a manager possibly give an employee a reward of this kind? Ways to promote intrinsic motivation within employees do in fact exist. They may not be as blatant or as easy as extrinsic rewards, but intrinsic rewards are ever more powerful and meaningful.

A way in which managers can promote intrinsic rewards with employees is to give birth to the type of culture in which workers will experience intrinsic motivation. This is an environment in which,

Work is more fun;

Employees know the work they do is meaningful and worthwhile;

Problems are viewed as challenges, not as restraints;

It is ok for employees to try new ways of doing tasks and to do new tasks that interest them;

Employees know when they have done a good job. (

Empowerment is another way in which managers can foster intrinsic motivation in their employees. When workers receive more autonomy, they gain increasing satisfaction from their work because they have the capability to pursue their ideas, use their best skills and make important contributions to their company. This also adds to the power a manager has because of a more efficient, productive and innovative work unit. A manager can amplify the power of employees by,

Providing them with the authority to set goals, make decisions and solve problems;

Aiding them in acquiring necessary resources;

Assisting the progress of accessing people who can give them the help and co-operation they need to achieve their work, (i.e. the manager, upper management and employees from other departments).

Providing information. This is particularly important to those organisations, which are continuously changing, because there is a chance of employees feeling powerless with not knowing exactly what is going on. By incessantly tracking down information about the company’s mission, plans, financial status and progress towards meeting its goals, both the manager and employees are empowered.

A final way of setting loose intrinsic rewards in employees is through job enrichment. ‘Job enrichment is increasing the scope of a job to provide workers with more challenges and more opportunities to expand their skills.’ ( It does not involve including more meaningless and routine tasks to the employee’s already existing duties. A manager can enhance an employee’s job by giving them,

The opportunity to control a project from start to finish;

The chance for new skills to blossom and to display new competencies;

Rotation to a project with high visibility in the organisation.


In conclusion, the primary concept of motivation is some driving force within individuals by which they endeavour to achieve a goal in order to accomplish a personal need or expectation. Individual needs and expectations are often competitive and changeable in a variety of ways in order to satisfy the needs.

Competing theories have attempted to explain motivation at work. Each theory is important to a manager because they demonstrate that there are a variety of motives, which influence people’s behaviour at work. ‘They provide a framework within which to direct attention to the problem of how best to motivate staff to work willingly and effectively.’ (Mullins 1999: 439).

The different theories of motivation can be divided into two contrasting groups: content theories and process theories. Content theories emphasise what motivates and identify people’s needs. On the other hand process theories emphasise the actual process of motivation and identify relationships among the dynamic variables, which constitute motivation, and how behaviour is initiated, directed and sustained.

In addition, receiving rewards can motivate an individual. Rewards can be extrinsic or intrinsic. When the effects of extrinsic rewards have petered out, intrinsic rewards will carry on encouraging a person to put forth their best effort. ‘When people have intrinsic motivation, they will continue to strive to do their best regardless of whether an extrinsic reward is coming or not, because the motivation resides in the employees themselves.’ ( Extrinsic motivators and rewards may make a company more attractive and enchanting to a person, but in actual fact, power to keep people, lies within the intrinsic motivators and rewards.

Words: 2,170


Brandt, R. (1995) Punished by Rewards? A conversation with Alfie Kohn, Educational Leadership, 53, 13-16

Chance, P. (1992) The rewards of learning, Phi Delta Kappan, 73, 200-207

Deeprose, Donna (1994) How to recognise and reward employees,New York: AMACOM

Financial Times (1997) Mastering Management, Pitman Publishing

Fletcher, Winston (2000) Idle or a question of motivation? Management Today (UK), 1st of April, 2000: 34; Volume 2000/Apr.

Hannagan, Tim (1998) Management, Concepts and Practices, 2nd edition, Pitman Publishing

Mullins, Laurie J. (1999) Management and Organisational behaviour,5th edition, Pearson Education Limited

Torrington, Derek and Hall, Laura (1998) Human Resource Management, 4th edition, Financial Times, Prentice Hall

Internet Resources as at 1/11/2001 as at 3/11/2001 as at 1/11/2001 as at 3/11/2001 as at 3/11/2001


Excerpt out of 12 pages


How are intrinsic rewards used to motivate?
University Of Wales Institute, Cardiff  (Welsh School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure)
Human Resource Systems
A (80%)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
398 KB
Human, Resource, Systems
Quote paper
Alexandra Kossowski (Author), 2001, How are intrinsic rewards used to motivate?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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