Extrinsic & Intrinsic Motivation In Your Workplace

Today, as my little one started to walk up a gentle slope for the first time on her own (without holding my hands), she gleefully clapped her hands together with me when she reached the top on her own, something dawned on me.

Why do we celebrate little milestones of our young children but we don’t do that often to others, do we? Why do we wait until Christmas to shower gifts and share the love with others? Why do we hold on to promotions and bonuses until at the end of the year? It makes no sense.

If you are looking for performance, you need to reward those who deserve it. Whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic rewards, it definitely doesn’t warrant just once a year or worse…. it never comes.

Understandably The Budget

I do understand that each company, narrows down to each department then each team is allocated a budget to spend on such rewards. Whether the budget goes to the Big Bang company dinner, end of the year bonuses or promotion for that 1 deserving member out of 100 people you have in your team, you as a manager will have a say during fund allocation discussion.

You may not have so much to spend after whatever is earmarked for the whole full year. Even when it is an economic downturn, it is even more important to keep up or increase with these rewards to boost morale and keep the spirit up.

Happy staff, healthy profits.

Extrinsic & Intrinsic Affordable Rewards

Extrinsic motivation is rewards given out to performance driven by monetary value, fame, praises while intrinsic motivation provides a much deeper reward usually it is satisfaction and passion. You don’t have to give extravagant rewards to good performers. In fact, it is so easy to use extrinsic & intrinsic methods to make the workplace a fun and challenging environment.


Here are some fantastic ideas that I have personally tried, tested and works beautifully:

Quarterly Bonus

The Idea: Instead of a lump sum of end-of-the-year bonus, I split up the bonus into quarterly. You hit your performance quarterly, you get a bonus. Personally, you get to choose to save it or splurge it, your choice.

Management Pros: As a manager, you get a clearer measurement of who is performing in your team, rather than to evaluate the result once a year. You are able to set a more realistic target for next quarter based on the current quarterly performance.

Staff Pros: You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to reward yourself with that gorgeous handbag or a trip to Havana. Plus, you can resign anytime you want to and not stretch your time (and neck) out just because you want to qualify for your bonus. I wouldn’t want a disgruntled employee on my team just because he is waiting for his bonus to appear in his bank account before he throws in the letter.

Cons: More effort for everyone. The manager will have to keep track and evaluate 4 times a year instead of once a year. As an employee, if you are not performing, you get caught out quarterly. So it actually is pretty stressful if you are unable to hit the target all the time.

Fun Contest

The Idea: Set up a friendly competition among the teams to see who gets to reach the target in the shortest time. Reward the team/individuals with fun inexpensive stuff like beer nights, a pair of movie tickets, first dibs to choose what to eat for team dinner.

Management Pros: It is inexpensive and encourages team camaraderie. Do it right and pair with a good bonus plan, you may have a winning formula that never gets old. Even managers can get into the fun!

Staff Pros: A great way to bring out the wallflower in you and work together as a team to strive for the best. The extra treats wouldn’t hurt anyone and even if you kept getting that pair of movie tickets for the fifth time in a row, nobody is going to give you the evil eye.

Cons: Planning such contest takes time and effort but that can be circumvented by assigning someone from the team to own up this project and everyone can take a turn to Plan this each quarter or month. You’ll be surprised what crazy contest or fun prize they will come up with.



The Idea: Yes, that plastic little plaque or certificates that people might not care for. However, if you have the department to vote who they think deserving the title, it can be made into a very fun event. I have done this many times and surprisingly have raised productivity tremendously. Don’t just stick with Employee of The Month. There are plenty of creative titles to go around. Most helpful teammate, the MVP, the happiest team… the list goes on.

Management Pros: Endorsing these certificates with a highly respected manager will have employees wanting them and costing nothing but the time taken to sign something. CEO is a good person to approach.

Staff Pros: Having a certificate that state you are the most productive employee in the month of June may not seem much but it is still something you can put on your resume and of course, your Facebook.

Cons: You will always have people who don’t care much for such awards and think it is all fake action that mounts up to nothing. Well, you can’t please everyone.

Pop Quiz

The Idea: To pump up the sales and customer service team on new products, you can do a sudden pop quiz and rewarding them with the actual product when they are correct.

Management Pros: This is the best way to get your team to get excited about your new products and services. They will learn more about your new launch if there are hands-on from the staff. And what better way to advertise your new product through the word of mouth from your own employees. Apple gave everyone an iPhone when they launched it in 2007.

Staff Pros: Won’t you love to have an iPhone? A free hotel stay with Booking.com? A Kindle from Amazon?

Cons: This will eat into your profits but it is only at cost price. It is priceless when you use it to motivate employees.

Can you think of any fun ways to motivate your team? What are the intrinsic or extrinsic methods you like your company to implement? Or share with us what you love about your company has done?

If you like to read how you can improve your leadership skills, here are some articles to inspire you:

Manager’s Abbreviation & Acronym
So you want to be a manager….
Intuitive to Others’ Feelings



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26 Comments Add yours

  1. DutchIl says:

    In the past, as at the present, I accomplished (or tried to 🙂 ) what I did because I wished to, not because I were anticipating a reward… more like self-gratification in that I set my goals, worked towards those goals using my own knowledge and abilities and achieved them a best I could with the cards of life dealt to me…

    “ The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own, no apologies or excuses.. No one to lean on, rely on or blame.. The gift is yours, it is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.” Bob Moawad

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      A good Bob Moawad quote. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. Indeed setting your own goals and achieving them is a greater reward than anything a company can give. Kudos to that!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. hcyip says:

    These are good ideas, especially splitting up the yearly bonus. Giving employees rewards and recognition during the year instead of just at the end of the year would motivate them more.
    In Taiwan, companies often give employees a birthday bonus though it is usually just a small token amount of money or gift vouchers. At one Taiwanese company I worked at, they offered travel bursaries as in if you went on vacation, the company would give you a small amount of money. Almost as like getting paid to travel, ha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Oooo.. I love the idea of getting paid to travel. Haha. Thanks for sharing these experiences with us. I love to celebrate my team’s birthday and make it special. Everyone pooling a small amount of money for a cake and a card. Most of the time, employees do appreciate especially if they are foreigners and away from their family. In a way, we are like his replacement family.


  3. Paola says:

    Your posts are always so interesting, but as an old lady as I am, I’m nou touched by your dauughter firts steps … tiny feet!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you so much, Paola. My little diva can be such a handful. But I love her quirky little ways Everyday.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. reocochran says:

    I like having our attendance bonus but think taking off an hour early to go to a regular or annual exam is much different than “calling in sick.” I have once a year called in sick but have eye, teeth, checking my skin at dermatologist planned so they are not spur of the moment! I let my boss know.
    I think having people on a team compete would bother me, but having partners compete against each other seems more fun.
    We get Bravo points for high rate, but are given them privately. This was very interesting! Thank you, Kally. 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you, Reocochan for sharing your work experiences with us. I love those attendance bonuses and I love it that your boss let you off early so you can fulfill your medical appointment. You can make team competition fun and friendly if the prizes are the fun kind like book vouchers and movie tickets.


  5. Interesting post 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you, glad you like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ucancrate says:

    I think the biggest one of this list for me is awards – we do this a lot where I am now and ’employee of the quarter’ with a small bonus really motivates the team. However, for many I think it’s more the comments that people write about who they voted for that matter the most. I guess this comes down to individuals motivation, whether it’s money or recognition. We’ve also done a valentines day event where people submitted anonymous post-it love notes about staff members – I can’t even begin to describe the difference in moral!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Oooo… I love the Valentine’s Day event. What a great idea!!! Sometimes we forget that a workplace is also a community that can be nurtured into closeness and support.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Patty says:

    Would you believe my husband has co-workers who don’t even appreciate their bonus? It’s always to less to them. It’s a bonus, the company is not obligated to give it, jeeeeez. People tend to forget they don’t just work for themselves, but also for the companies benefit. The ‘team-feeling’ is disappearing more and more. Now I think of it, it’s a reflection of humanity these days, sadly.
    So, I surely hope your great tips will be implemented more 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Yes, I do believe that! I have met people like that in my previous workplace too. No matter what the company / boss does, it will never be good enough for them. They will grumble to high heavens and to anyone who hears them but strangely these people are also the ones who don’t quit their job and go somewhere else. *scratch my head in bewilderment*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Patty says:

        I think some people are/became addictive to complaining, ‘being a victim’ 😉


  8. msw blog says:

    Great post. I have worked for a host of companies that has don one or the other 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kally says:

      Thank you. And that’s really nice to have companies that appreciate that staff.


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