Extrinsic Motivation Examples (Definition and Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 14 September 2022 | Published 29 November 2021

Updated 14 September 2022

Published 29 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are several motivating factors that determine our personal and professional behaviours. Extrinsic motivation is a powerful way to drive behaviours and reward professionals for their efforts, dedication and performance. Understanding how extrinsic motivation can stimulate effective behavioural patterns in you may help you decide which jobs to apply to. In this article, we define extrinsic motivation, describe its importance, discuss how it differs from intrinsic motivation, and offer a list of workplace examples of extrinsic motivation.

Related: Tips on How to Be Motivated at Work

What is extrinsic motivation?

Extrinsic motivation uses external rewards to inspire certain behaviour in people. The external rewards that generate extrinsic motivation may be tangible or intangible, such as receiving praise from a supervisor or earning a bonus. The external rewards of extrinsic motivation may also be psychological or emotional. Regardless of the reward, extrinsic motivation focuses on completing tasks because of the benefits provided upon completion. Examples of external rewards gained through extrinsic motivation may include:

  • going on vacation after completing a project at work

  • an athlete receiving an award after winning a competition

  • getting a job after passing a professional exam

  • getting paid after completing a service

  • paying for a professional course after saving your money

  • receiving an award from your employer for successfully completing a project

  • getting a promotion after meeting your sales target

Related: How to Self-Motivate at Work (With Steps and Tips)

Extrinsic motivation examples

Here are some extrinsic motivation examples in a work environment:

Earnings

Getting paid by your employer for excellently performing your duties at work is a key example of extrinsic motivation in a work environment. This may encourage staff members to improve their level of productivity at work so they can keep earning their salary. Extrinsic motivation may serve as an incentive for complex, intricate projects that require long hours from the workforce by rewarding them with substantial earnings.

Related: 18 Future In-Demand Jobs (With Primary Duties and Salaries)

Bonuses

Another example of extrinsic motivation in the workplace is bonuses. It may encourage outstanding professional behaviour that could result in additional compensation. For example, a copywriter may work overtime to fulfil a quota with the promise of a bonus upon successful completion, or a marketing professional may receive a bonus after six months of successful employment.

Related: What Is Compensation: Types and Examples of Benefits

Paid time off

Accumulating time off for completing increments of work is a well-known example of extrinsic motivation in the workplace. For example, a staff member may receive six hours of paid time off per pay period. If the staff member is hoping to go on vacation, the accruement of paid time off may motivate them to complete the necessary amount of work before booking their trip.

Related: A Guide on How to Take a Break From Work (Plus Benefits)

Promotion

If a professional has a long-term objective of promotion or career advancement, this example of extrinsic motivation may prompt them to apply for an entry-level position with the possibility of internal promotion. Promotion may also work as an external reward for dedication, quality of work and maintaining long-term positions and positive relationships within a company. It can result in improved levels of productivity from staff members.

Related: How to Get Promoted at Work With These 15 Strategies

Public recognition

Public praise and recognition is a powerful example of extrinsic motivation in the workplace. Staff members may contribute their best efforts, seek means of improvement and ensure the quality of their deliverables to receive recognition and respect from their peers, clients or supervisors. As an outstanding professional, your employer may publicly appreciate you with an award during any of the company's public events, a public email sent to all personnel or the employee of the month feature on the company's website.

Healthy relationships

Maintaining healthy relationships may be an external reward of effective communication, empathy and active listening. In the workplace, this example of extrinsic motivation may help staff members form and preserve healthy professional relationships that result in increased cohesion, positive company culture and improved productivity. Having good work relationships with your coworkers may lead to lifelong friendships and referrals for better work opportunities.

Certifications

To secure employment or advance a career, staff members may need to obtain specialised certification. Studying and taking the necessary courses to receive certification is a great example of workplace behaviour driven by external rewards. These certifications may result in advanced training, developed skills and enhanced knowledge in an area of expertise.

Related: Online Certificate Courses for Different Industries

Additional responsibility

Having your employer rely on you more may inspire you to be more productive at work. Employers may use additional work responsibility as a form of extrinsic reward for their outstanding staff. This may be a task that can give the staff member more exposure within the company or industry. For instance, your supervisor may ask you to represent the company at an international conference to reward you for your exceptional service.

Related: How to Motivate (Plus Tips on Self Motivation and Leadership)

Importance of extrinsic motivation at work

Here are some important roles extrinsic motivation plays in a work environment:

Increases productivity

Employers may increase the level of excellent service delivery at work by giving rewards for accomplishing assignments. Knowing there's a reward for hard work may encourage staff members to stay focused and give their best in every task. Some rewards an employer may give you for a job well done can include paid vacation, recognition, bonuses, commission, long time off from work, gift cards and praise.

Promotes teamwork

Sustaining productive connections is a vital extrinsic motivation. As a staff member in the work environment, you may be more likely to work together with your team to protect the well-being of your professional relationships. Increased unity among coworkers may result in improved communication, enhanced productivity and heightened quality of service delivery.

Related: What Is Teamwork? (Plus Skills and Examples of Teamwork)

Improves staff satisfaction

When you feel rewarded for your efforts as a staff, you may feel more satisfied with your job performance and place of work. It's essential to use extrinsic motivation as a means to express your gratitude for your team and their achievements. Pleased staff members who feel appreciated may be more likely to give their best work and participate in long-term relationships with their employers alongside coworkers.

Provides feedback

Employers may use an extrinsic rewards system as a productive way to give constant feedback to staff members on their performance. As a staff member, if you feel you haven't been receiving rewards for your hard work, it may encourage you to have a discussion with your supervisor about how to boost your performance. This may help to encourage you to seek improvement, add feedback to your procedures and inspire you to excel in your daily assignments.

Maintains motivation

Over the course of long-term intricate projects, extrinsic motivation may help you sustain your drive to excellently finish your project duties. Your employer may use external rewards at important milestones of a project to provide a sense of accomplishment after completing project phases. Also, the management team may use external rewards to encourage healthy competition between you and your coworkers, such as offering a prize to the first set of staff members to successfully finalise a milestone. It may boost the speed of productivity and enhance the quality of the company's project results.

Related: Why You Have No Motivation to Work And How to Overcome It

What's the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation?

Intrinsic motivation is behaviour that your private interests prompt you to accomplish. You may find the task satisfying, motivating or privately useful without any external rewards associated with its completion. While both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are significant ways to drive behaviour in your place of employment, extrinsic behaviour centres on an external rewards system instead of personal gain or private benefits for finishing a task.

Also, the scenarios in which it could be beneficial to use these two types of motivation may differ. For instance, you may use extrinsic motivation to inspire someone to learn a new skill in which they have little interest, while you may use intrinsic motivation to encourage someone to learn a new skill they already find interesting. Intrinsic rewards are internal. They can be peace of mind, happiness or fulfilment, while extrinsic rewards are external, such as money and accolades. Here are some examples of how they differ in the workplace:

  • scheduling your job tasks because you enjoy being organised versus planning for them because you may get a reward from your boss

  • partaking in a project because you find the topic interesting versus taking part in it because it may lead to a promotion

  • going for a social team bonding activity because you love being outdoors versus attending it because you may get some favours from your coworkers

Read more:

  • What Is Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation? (With Examples)

  • What Are Intrinsic Rewards and Why Are They Important?


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