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Improving Employee Satisfaction through Intrinsic Rewards

Employee Satisfaction

Employee SatisfactionIn our last blog we discussed extrinsic vs. intrinsic rewards and how they work to promote employee satisfaction. We defined intrinsic rewards as “the satisfaction or enjoyment you get from doing the job in addition to whatever money you receive for doing it.” Intrinsic rewards are not negligible – workers who are happy doing the work they do stay longer, are more motivated, and even lure other employees into the workplace through word of mouth.

According to the Ivey Business Journal four intrinsic rewards drive employee engagement. These are:

  1. A sense of meaningfulness
  2. A sense of choice
  3. A sense of competence
  4. A sense of progress

Let’s break these down.

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Meaningfulness – Workers who find meaning in their work, who feel that what they do is important and affects the world in a good way, will work much more willingly. In fact, the search for meaning is what drives so many people’s volunteer and hobby efforts. People need purpose. They need to feel that they’re doing more than punching the clock and collecting a check. The meaning behind their work doesn’t have to be life saving. It can be as simple as believing in the mission of the company, the product made, or the service offered.

Choice – Most workers hate being micromanaged. Even if the work they do has a pattern or a process, they want to be free to perform their tasks according to their best judgment. Workers who feel responsible for the work they do will also feel like they are a part of the greater whole. They add something, and that something matters.

Competence – This reward neatly ties into the intrinsic reward of choice. Workers want to feel satisfaction of performing good work. They want to accomplish something, and they want other people to know that they are proficient and important. They want to have pride in a job done well, no matter what that job is.

Progress – Many workers prefer to work by task rather than by the hour. It feels good to complete an entire task. Human work has been task oriented for thousands of years. Hunters did not go out to hunt for 8 hours. They went out to get enough meat to feed their families. When they bagged enough rabbits, they came home. No one wants to dig ditches for 8 hours either, but digging a whole ditch from start to finish? That accomplishes something, People understand that they are progressing towards completing a big task with every shovelful of dirt they dig.

How do the above four intrinsic rewards make sense within the auto repair industry? It’s obvious that if auto repair shop management can find ways to improve employees’ sense of personal choice, competence, progress, and meaningfulness, they will significantly improve employee satisfaction and reduce turnover. We’ve written extensively about employee wages and benefits, but, remember, people do work they enjoy for free all of the time, and most of that work isn’t important, earth-shattering work. They will volunteer their time to build houses for the poor or make food for the hungry because they can do it, because can choose to do it, because they feel like they accomplish something and because they feel they’re making a difference, even temporarily. It’s worth their time.

People will even do difficult, dangerous work in terrible circumstances – such as war – when they feel it’s protecting their country or their families. While no manager can wave a magic wand and make all of the work in their repair shop exciting or life saving, they can strive to increase their workers’ feelings of choice, competence, progress, and meaningfulness. This is the basis of good management: engaging your workers in ways that make them feel vital and respected.

Intrinsic rewards tap into human psychology. A continuous reward process improves employee satisfaction and performance. Learning how to better motivate employees is a core part of any manager’s job.