Intrinsic Motivation

In contrast to extrinsic motivation, which depends on external factors such as money or recognition, intrinsic motivation refers to the internal drive and joy derived from the activity itself. We explore how employees can enhance their intrinsic motivation and how employers can contribute to creating a motivating work environment.

Intrinsische Motivation - Definition und Förderung

Key Facts

In the professional world, a certain degree of intrinsic motivation is crucial for the individual's and the company's overall success. Unlike extrinsic motivation, which is based on external factors, intrinsic motivation arises from the joy of the activity itself. Intrinsically motivated employees work autonomously, engage in meaningful tasks and value recognition and embrace learning opportunities.

Employers can fostering intrinsic motivation with their employees by enabling autonomous work, setting clear goals, and emphasizing the significance of each individual in the company. Further important factors are to promote a continuous development, expressing recognition and creating a positive work culture.

Work environments, which allow for a high intrinsic motivation will likely result in higher productivity curves, innovation, and long-term success.

Definition of Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is based on personal interest, the joy of the activity, and the pursuit of self-realization. Individuals with intrinsic motivation experience deeper engagement and higher satisfaction in their work. One way towards a high intrinsic motivation should lead via identifying one's passions and interests. Once a good understand has been established it is much easier to align tasks with individual interests and goals.

Difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation:

Extrinsic motivation relies on external incentives or rewards that prompt a person to perform an action. In contrast, intrinsic motivation stems from internal factors, making intrinsically motivated actions often more sustainable in the long term.


Employees should be encouraged to shape their workdays and make decisions independently. Autonomy in the workplace is a crucial factor for intrinsic motivation. Employers can promote this by setting clear goals while simultaneously granting employees freedom in implementation. Examples of fostering self-determination in the workplace include flexible working hours, participation in projects, and encouraging individual responsibility.

Meaningful Work:

The connection between one's work and a higher purpose or larger goal significantly contributes to intrinsic motivation. Employers can support this by emphasizing the importance of individual contributions to organizational goals. Transparent communication about the impact of work on company success also strengthens intrinsic motivation.

Learning and Development Opportunities:

The opportunity for personal and professional development is another key to intrinsic motivation. Employees should have access to training programs, workshops, and mentoring initiatives. Employers can create incentives to encourage lifelong learning and provide employees with opportunities to enhance their skills.

Company Training and Education

Companies continually face new challenges to remain competitive in the global market, making a certain level of knowledge management necessary. Company training and continuing education are the keys to achieving this.

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Recognition and Appreciation:

Recognizing individual achievements is a powerful tool for enhancing intrinsic motivation. Employers should regularly express praise and acknowledgment to make employees feel valued. This fosters a positive work atmosphere and strengthens self-esteem, which, in turn, positively impacts intrinsic motivation.

Positive Work Culture:

Work culture plays a crucial role in promoting intrinsic motivation. Open communication, teamwork, fairness, and a healthy communication are essential elements of such a working environment. Employers should ensure that their company values and practices align with the values and needs of their employees.

Examples of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation and Their Interconnection:

As has been established, intrinsic motivation is satisfied by personal interest, curiosity, or one's own creativity. An example from the professional world can be the choice of a career. Someone with a personal passion for music may choose a career in the music industry. Individuals working in social professions often do so for intrinsically motivated reasons, drawing strength from working with children or feeling good about supporting people in nursing homes.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation focuses on external factors. For instance, the next salary increase could be a primary motivator, or proving oneself in a team, or alternatively, pursuing further education with an eye on the next career step.

In reality, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are closely intertwined because individuals can be influenced by both forms of motivation simultaneously. For example, someone may have started a job for the salary (extrinsic motivation) but over time, developed intrinsic motivation by using the position in the company to have a specific social impact. There is a certain interplay between these two forms of motivation, and they can change over the course of an activity or task.


Intrinsic motivation is a key driver for professional success and personal well-being. Employees with strong intrinsic motivation find more joy in their work and contribute to increased productivity and innovation. Employers play a crucial role in fostering an environment that promotes intrinsic motivation. Implementing the above mentioned measures allows both employees and employers to collaboratively create a positive and motivating work culture, enabling long-term professional success.

FAQ - Frequently asked questions at a glance

Intrinsic motivation refers to the internal desire or joy that a person derives from the activity itself, without relying on external factors. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to external incentives that serve to influence a person's behavior.

Intrinsic Motivation: The pursuit of personal fulfillment in engaging in hobbies, creative activities, or intellectual challenges. For example, participating in training due to personal interest.

Extrinsic Motivation: Arises from external factors, both positive and negative, and is correspondingly externally driven. For example, financial incentives such as a bonus for achieving specific goals.

This can vary depending on the individual and the context. However, intrinsic motivation is considered more sustainable in the long-term as it is based on personal satisfaction and interest. A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be effective in many situations to cover a broader range of incentives and rewards.

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