By Vivienne Liu

Research & Development Specialist

Motivation, a topic extensively discussed in the fields of behavioural and social psychology, has long been an area of interest for most business leaders. Organisations have continually been investing large sums of money in employee engagement and welfare programmes, hoping to motivate their employees—give them that push—to attain better results. After all, studies have shown that organisations with motivated employees report less absenteeism, are better able to satisfy customer needs, and perform better financially.

However, year after year, many leaders are left disappointed with the ineffectiveness of their employee engagement initiatives, asking themselves “But…why?” Though they are right in that external factors (ranging from basic pay and annual bonuses to the highly coveted flexible workspace and free buffet lunch spread) are highly important in motivating employees, many leaders do not realise that these perks are not all that is responsible for employee motivation.

Years of research have shown that people are moved to do things either intrinsically or extrinsically. Intrinsic motivation, as the name suggests, refers to doing things for the inherent satisfaction and enjoyment of doing them. Extrinsic motivation, on the other hand, refers to doing things to obtain a desirable or avoid an undesirable outcome.

 More specifically, a recent research by Boston Research Group reveals that employee engagement—the other side of the same coin as employee motivation—is driven 55% by extrinsic motivation and 45% by intrinsic motivation plus motivation capability.

It follows that the unsatisfactorily low levels of employee motivation despite heavy investment in employee engagement programmes, seem to be driven by the lack of a holistic approach to motivation. After all, employees’ intrinsic motivation and motivation capabilities make up almost half of their overall motivation. The good news, though, is that it’s not too late to start addressing these seemingly less visible aspects of motivation!

Interested to find out more about your own motivation factor and how to stay highly motivated? Join us at the launch of our Real MotivationTM solutions in September. Head over to the Going Global section for details or email us at if you’d like more information!

Gill, S. J. (2012, June 26). Does employee engagement predict market value? Retrieved from http:// evidence-suggests-that-highly-engaged-employees-are-as-the-madison-performance-group-would-saybrand-ambassadors-who.html

Ryan, R. M. and Deci, E. L. (2000).
Intrinsic and extrinsic motivations: classic definition and new directions. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25, 54-67.

Storey, S. (2016, June 19). [Infographic] brand ambassadors vs disengaged employees. Retrieved from brand-ambassadors-vs-disengagedemployees-sue-storey