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What is intrinsic motivation?

When you're intrinsically motivated to accomplish something, you have an internal desire to achieve it. Learn how you tap can into the intrinsic motivators of your employees, customers and partners to influence the success of your business.

When you're intrinsically motivated to accomplish something, you have an internal desire to achieve it; you'll initiate the activity for its own sake because it's interesting and satisfying in itself. Intrinsic motivation stands in direct contrast to extrinsic motivation, which happens when some external force (like a boss), influences, motivates or requires you to do something.

Because of the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, we can, generally speaking, separate activities into two different buckets: tasks that we want to do and tasks that we have to do. Have you ever wondered why it's so much easier to get something done when we want to do it? (Or conversely, why it's so difficult to accomplish something even though we know we "have to"?) It all boils down to motivation — and more specifically, the dichotomy between intrinsic motivators and extrinsic motivators. Let's take a deeper look and explore the role intrinsic motivators can play in business performance.

As we established above, it seems much easier to get things done when we're intrinsically motivated to do them, and research supports that hunch. Over the years, studies have shown that intrinsic motivators are much more powerful than extrinsic motivators.

At BI WORLDWIDE, we've taken it a step further. We know that there are five specific intrinsic motivators that have the most impact. These intrinsic motivators are:

  • Autonomy: "I control." Autonomy exists on a continuum – from situations where you have none and are told exactly what to do, to situations where you have all the autonomy you want, whenever you want it – and everywhere in between.
  • Mastery: "I improve." Getting better at things is satisfying on a number of fronts. For some, it means the task at hand gets easier. For others, it brings the psychic and possibly financial rewards that come from doing something that 1) couldn't be done before and 2) not everyone else can do.
  • Purpose: "I make a difference." Everyone needs to feel like they're making a difference and that their efforts and accomplishments have meaning.
  • Progress: "I achieve." People respond well when they see that they are making progress on something they care about, whether in the workplace or in life.
  • Social Interaction: "I connect with others." Humans are innately social creatures, and we want to connect, interact, affiliate, care and share. We also want to be recognised, and we want to understand and be understood.

Now, what would happen if these intrinsic motivators were somehow integrated into the workplace? Could you tap into the intrinsic motivators of your employees, customers and partners and turn "have to" tasks into "want to" tasks?

Absolutely! In fact, that's one of the cornerstones of our philosophy at BI WORLDWIDE. We've seen again and again that when an employee understands why they're doing what they're doing, how they can improve, sees their progress toward a meaningful goal and how their efforts relate to others, they become eager and willing to contribute and grow. As a result, business performance improves, measurably and fast.

Our gamification platform combines three components: 1) what we know about intrinsic motivation, 2) big data analytics, and 3) capabilities to scale and sustain. Together, these elements can be used to inspire your employees, customers and partners to take action that matters to the business. Even better, we can help you do it in a way that provides sustained motivation, performance gains and business insights.

With gamification, you'll no longer have to rely on the passive consumption of content or people who perform tasks to win a contest or simply because someone "told them to". Our platform will help you understand what motivates your employees, customers and partners — and how those motivators link to your business goals. Remember, the key is to tap into intrinsic motivation so the people who are part of your business become actively engaged in the success of your business.

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