There has been a long-standing perception in many corporations that incentives like money and rewards are the best way to motivate employees to work more productively and effectively despite the significant amount of studies showing otherwise. As a result, employees began leveraging their time for their families and their own personal enjoyment and development. Although external rewards are also vital, what these companies often overlook is the importance of freedom, leisure, and fun to the improvement of performance in the workplace. This topic was picked to give light to the modern day corporate world of its complacency and reliance to traditional mode of motivation, and to encourage more researchers to dig deeper into this issue. This research aims to enlighten the readers that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in relation to human effectiveness are equally important when used properly according to their purpose, most especially, at work.
Performance effectiveness of humans or employees can also be called productivity in the workplace, also generally known as “the amount of goods and/or services produced per hour of human labor or the actual measure of job performance” (Dunnette & Fleishman, 2014). The productivity or effectiveness of each member of an organization is extremely important in any company’s growth and further development. It is the driver of profit which is the primary reason for the existence of most organizations. According to Dunnette and Fleishman (2014), since these organizations are driven by profitability, more often than not, they also view their employees the same way and entice them with monetary rewards alone. These are wages, bonus, salary increase, profit sharing, and the like which are usually viewed as motivators to increase the productivity of the workforce (Dunnette & Fleishman, 2014). Alarmingly, they did not discuss the implications of internally drawn motivation aside from those controlled by the management externally.
As mentioned, monetary rewards or pay-per-performance has been one of the most common forms of incentive due to the notion that people would do anything for money. However, experiments revealed that controlled motivation or extrinsic rewards only work for simple repetitive and habitual tasks with a definite goal, but not for solving analytical problems wherein incentives may even result to worse outcome (Boedecker, Lampe & Riedmiller, 2013). This is a dangerous method of reinforcement as along the way, people may be trained to become mere robots working in a singular path, limiting their potential for exploration and innovation. This is a threat to the advancement of humanity since it contradicts the analytic side of humans that explores and discovers new solutions. On a contrary, a study about increase in pay, extrinsic motivation, performance and creativity in the workplace disputed the negative notions about this particular type of motivation (Gerhart & Fang, 2015). Scholars Gerhart and Fang (2015) contested that there is a lack of substantial evidence to prove the insignificance, or in some cases, negative effect of extrinsic motivation to human effectiveness or productivity. Unless the findings had been concretely, empirically, and thoroughly studied, its importance should not be undermined (Gerhart & Fang, 2015). Unfortunately, few studies had been done to thoroughly explore extrinsic motivation alone.
Modern motivational studies have laid the foundation to a more intrinsic approach to the improvement of human effectiveness. Human beings naturally seek their purpose in life and it need not to be reinforced. However, when they no longer feel fulfilled and useful, they start feeling demotivated (Petelczyc, Capezio, Wang, Restubog & Aquino, 2017). The challenge here is how the management could externally encourage their employees to be intrinsically motivated toward the whole organization’s success. In the book entitled “Managing to Have Fun”, the importance of fun, play, and enjoyment was highlighted by its author, Matt Weinstein, founder of PlayFair Inc an organization that assists corporations in the development of fun-centered management. For almost 30 years, they have been dealing with giant companies like AT&T and Zenith Data Systems (Weinstein, 2004). He stated, “we teach our clients that the intentional use of fun on the job can help them improve employee morale, heighten productivity, create a more people-centered corporate culture, and ultimately, increase profitability” (Weinstein, 2004). This also improves employees’ morale, engagement, effective stress management, productivity, creativity, work-life balance, flexibility, resourcefulness, and all myriad of things leading to better performance (Petelczyc, Capezio, Wang, Restubog & Aquino, 2017). Companies such as Google, Facebook, LikedIn, and Zappos that are well-known leaders in their respective industries today, use the concept of intrinsic motivation to foster better performance (Petelczyc, Capezio, Wang, Restubog & Aquino, 2017). Their employees have the freedom when to work and how they will accomplish their tasks, and were given no fixed work schedules. According to Howard, Gagne, Morin and Broeck (2016), “autonomous motivation influence performance and well-being more than controlled”; hence, this sense of power and freedom in the work place breeds locus of control and self-efficacy in employees.
Intrinsic Versus Extrinsic Motivation and Their Significance
Even though the self-determination theory proposes balance in both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in varying degrees, the study of Howard, Gagne, Morin and Broeck (2016) stated that “the presence of external regulation (extrinsic) appears unimportant when combined with autonomous (intrinsic) forms of motivation”. Which means the power of extrinsic motivation in human effectiveness or productivity in the workplace, when compared to intrinsic motivation, the difference is so significant that the former almost becomes detrimental. However, there has not been enough available studies that dig deeper into extrinsic motivation alone to further explore its significance. Although it is widely practiced, it continues to fall behind when compared to its counterpart intrinsic motivation. Notably, their study also revealed that those who were not given any motivation at all performed the worst (Howard, Gagne, Morin & Broeck, 2016). This means that motivation, regardless of its nature, is still very important in fostering human effectiveness in the workplace. On a contrary, a strong 40-year meta-analysis of 9 studies was conducted by Cerasoli, Nicklin, and Ford (2014) which embarked a great emphasis on the importance of these two types of motivation, and proposed to simultaneously consider them both in designing strategies to improve human effectiveness. They added, intrinsic motivation is more of a predictor of quality, while its counterpart extrinsic motivation is more of predictor of quantity (Cerasoli, Nicklin & Ford, 2014). Therefore, both are important because both quantity and quality are vital in ensuring optimal performance and profitability.
As the landscape of today’s modern work environment continue to become more diversified and competitive, managements are faced with challenges on how to maximize their pool of talents to drive their company’s success. Unfortunately, it is no longer feasible for organizations to stick to their authoritative, top-down, money-driven, traditional stance alone. Instead, they have to look into the roles and goals of their workforce and design a more fitting motivational strategy to foster optimal human effectiveness and productivity. Intrinsic motivation encourages more creativity, resourcefulness, and higher quality of products and services. Extrinsic motivation is useful in mechanical or repetitive tasks where quantity is more important than any other factors. Despite the large number of research promoting intrinsic motivation while undermining the role of extrinsic motivation, there is a growing number of studies showing that these two types of incentives are equally important if each of their individual purposes are considered. Nevertheless, further studies are highly recommended to explore how both can be utilized, instead of just merely comparing them.