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Increasing Employee Motivation Through Intrinsic Rewards

Essay by   •  July 2, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,767 Words (8 Pages)  •  1,999 Views

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Can

Employee Motivation be Increased

Using Intrinsic Rewards?

Why is this Problem Important?

Organizations must be creative and proactive in their strategies to stay competitive. They have realized that workers determine their success and want to understand the motivators that will maximize the quality, efficiency and reliability of employees' performance (Kressler, 2003).

Motivation has become a concern of corporations as they creatively look for ways to reduce costs, increase productivity, and earn profits. Management needs to look at new ways to improve performance in workers. The use of rewards has been the main motivator for many generations. Rewards work and are still used today. The format has been altered because employees' attitudes, values, and priorities have changed. Non-monetary rewards have become essential for corporate success: understanding which one are effective and how to implement them has become critical.

Definition of Rewards

Rewards come in different forms, extrinsic or intrinsic, and have substantially different effects on the recipient. For one to effectively use rewards as a motivator one must understand, recognize and know the differences and benefits of both.

Extrinsic rewards are tangible rewards, such as a pay raise, bonus or gift certificate, which are controlled by an individual other than the recipient and are independent of the activity (Notz, 1975). Extrinsic rewards act as maintainers and not motivators. When individuals are rewarded for doing an interesting task, they expect the reward; if the reward stops then the interest in performing the task stops as well. The external reward has undermined the employee's internal motivation for performing the task (Cameron, 2002).

Brooks (2007) stated "Work is not just means to an end. Work has enormous intrinsic value." (p. 20). Intrinsic rewards are intangible, they are part of the work itself, and the employee has a high degree of control over it (Notz, 1975). According to D'Ausisio (2008) three of the top ten motivators for employees are: public/praise recognition; respect as a viable part of the organization; and customer feedback that they've made a difference. The early 20th century philosopher William James summarized it as "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated".

Similar Research Studies

Increasing productivity of employees through motivation has been on ongoing issue for many decades for employers. de Charm (1968) conducted a research study on "The internal affective determinants of behavior" to predict the interaction between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in 1968. Many others have continued to produce research studies and articles to conclude the most effective and cost efficient way to motivate employees. Employees can determine the success of a business and are a valuable asset to any organization.

Studies have been conducted on extrinsic rewards (pay) and intrinsic incentives (learning new things) and what is the best way to implement rewards programs. Organizations are willing to spend resources to discover the secret to motivating workers so that they will be more productive and increase revenues. Heath (1999) looked at the bias of managers and how they were unaware of the priorities of their workers. This creates strained management-employee relations with ineffective rewards being utilized. Managers who overlook their employees' desire to contribute and do work that that gives them a sense of accomplishment are putting forth a close-minded view and missing opportunities to see growth in not on the organization but also their workers (Morse, 2003).

Cheng & Robertson (2006) conducted their research study to determine if hospital employees were only motivated by their paycheque. The purpose of the study was to determine the motivational sources for employees but it also examined the use of non-monetary rewards and appropriately matching them with individual needs and priorities. The study looked at the overuse of awards and how they can be perceived as hypocritical. Managers need to remember that their workers are human beings with each having different values, goals and priorities.

Research has been conducted on the well-utilized "Employee of the Month" recognition and if it plays a role in increasing motivation. Many organizations have used this as an incentive for many decades assuming their workers strive to win the award. Johnson & Dickinson's (2010) research looked specifically at this particular award they concluded that it have no motivational value to workers.

James Oakley, a Purdue University Business Professor researched conducted research to determine if employee satisfaction and corporate culture has a direct link to profits. He determined that communication, both upward and downwards, was the key to satisfied employees. Oakley concluded from his research that there is a direct like between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction and between customer satisfaction and increased financial performance. He stated that this was true even if employees did not have direct contact with the customers.

Methods of Data Collection Used

Different methods have been used when researching rewards, monetary and non-monetary, and their effects on employees' motivation and attitudes. Methods include interviewing, surveying, and structured laboratory experiments.

Cheng and Robertson interviewed individuals in a semi-structured format. This created a limitation for their study as they were only able to perform 43 interviews due to time and money constraints. They stated that the study could have been improved if they were able to have a larger sample size. The interviews required a minimum of 40 minutes to conduct. This is a considerable amount of time that was required to gather the data for the study. Cheng & Robertson might have been able to increase their sample size by having the employees complete questionnaires instead of being interviewed. This may have resulted in the information being unclear and less accurate because of interpretation.

A research study title "Employee-of-the-month programs: do they really work?" was done in a controlled laboratory environment by Johnson and Dickinson (2010). The two experiments were conducted using a sample size of 12 over a ten week period. The first experiment was conducted with only the "Employee of the Week" incentive

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