Intrinsic Motivation Pt.2: How to Engage and Empower Your Employees

Mar 4

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Flourishing businesses understand this fundamental concept: employee motivation, happiness and engagement are crucial for success. But how do you get your staff members to remain with your company because they want to, not because they can’t afford to leave? The key is to understand and nurture what drives them.

In part one of our intrinsic motivation mini-series, we covered how to stay on track with your personal goals by using an internal reward system. Now we’re going to address one of the greatest challenges organizations face in the modern work era: building employee motivation to achieve the greater good. If you want to learn how to keep your workers engaged throughout the remainder of Q1 2021, stay tuned. 

What Really Matters to Workers

Nowadays, psychological rewards play a much more significant role in driving employee commitment than extrinsic incentives like higher salaries and beefier bonuses. While workers still highly prize these things, there are several other intrinsic elements of employee motivation to weave into your company culture, including:


Employees want to feel like their work ultimately matters and contributes to their company’s vision. They need assurance that their energy and focus makes a difference to what the organization is trying to accomplish in the grand scheme of things.


Employees value autonomy. Rather than being dictated to, they want to develop their own work styles and control how they accomplish their tasks. This sense of ownership allows them to feel more invested and engaged in their activities.


Employees crave a sense of expertise and mastery in their tasks. They value hearing feedback that indicates their skills are improving and producing high-quality work they can take pride in.

3 Tips towards Employee Motivation

Keeping your employees engaged takes time, money and commitment from leaders at all levels. Here are three tips you can’t go wrong with: 

Gather and Leverage Employee Feedback

Make sure that your employees feel heard by regularly gathering and acting on workplace feedback. This will strengthen your staff’s overall physical, emotional, and mental well-being.

Bonus tip: avoid overgeneralizing when designing surveys! Your organization is (hopefully) a diverse melting pot of different people with various goals and personalities. Also, everyone is at different stages of their personal lives and careers. Gather feedback that will allow you to address a wide range of needs rather than using a one-size-fits-all solution.

Cultivate and Maintain a Strong Sense of Purpose

Remind employees why their work matters by:

  • Frequently communicating your company’s vision through newsletters and blog posts
  • Regularly hosting meetings to discuss company progress 
  • Validating and implementing employee ideas and suggestions

In all cases, make it as easy as possible for your workers to see the cause-effect-relationship between their initiatives and positive company outcomes. 

Incorporate Effective Coaching and Mentorship

Use effective coaching and mentoring techniques to help your employees set goals that matter to them. This will allow them to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability for their work. Coaching and mentorship also naturally provide more touchpoint opportunities between leaders and workers, building trust between them. 

Benefits of Internal Motivation Among Staff

All of that is undoubtedly a lot of work. However, there are many organization-wide benefits of intrinsic motivation among workers, including:

Improved Worker Performance

“Studies tell us that intrinsic motivation is a generally stronger predictor of job performance over the long run than extrinsic motivation.” Life Hack

When workers feel internally motivated to do something, they’ll give it their best shot. Emotional investment in their work is far more encouraging than external pressures, meaning they’ll likely do a better job. 

A Deep Sense of Unity and Belonging

“Intrinsic motivation has been associated with employee willingness to create  a  positive  mood,  resulting  in  increased  learning  and  inclination  to  participate  in  voluntary knowledge sharing.” Journal of Information Science

When employees feel happy and satisfied at work, it inevitably leads to greater unity among teams as workers build each other up. Strong teams are foundational for strong organizations!

Company Lifers and Cheerleaders

“We find that employees with high levels of intrinsic rewards also become informal recruiters and marketers for their organization. They recommend the organization to friends as a place to work and recommend its products and services to potential customers.”  Ivey Business Journal

Want your employees to stay long-term and become your greatest advocates? Help them find where they fit in your organization and make them feel like a valuable asset. They’ll naturally want to stick around, and they’ll sing your praises to potential hires and prospective customers. Win-win!

Virtual Experiences to Get You Started 

Employee motivation is a tricky business, but we’re here to help! Visit our platform so you can check out our many culture-building virtual experiences. We recommend kicking things off with our Remote Team Building and Connected Team workshops to help your staff overcome psychological barriers that hinder unity and productivity among coworkers.

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