Rewarding Differently: Intrinsic Motivation for the Modern Learner

by | Jan 31, 2020 | Creative Studios, Engagament, HALIGHT, Training Tips

Intrinsic and extrinsic incentives work very differently. Have you heard about incentives for the unmotivated learner? Often, what it is really referring to are extrinsic motivations. Extrinsically motivated individuals look to outside incentives for motivation and validation. Employers can use things like badges, report cards, and Experience Points (XP) to reward extrinsic learners. These help “unmotivated” learners find reward in the training when they otherwise wouldn’t. 

When Sales Associates are intrinsically motivated, however, they often find the reward in the training itself. They believe that training can lead to personal, professional, or intellectual growth. The value they place on learning itself means they’re not in it for the badge alone. They’re looking for quality training that will lead them to their goals. Does this mean they don’t need any incentives? Of course not! You can reap a lot of benefits by developing intrinsically motivated employees with just a little more effort and attention in rewarding them. 

At HALIGHT, we have several ways to reward Sales Associates when they are intrinsically motivated. First, let’s look at how extrinsic rewards affect the intrinsically motivated learner. 

Aren’t extrinsic motivators for everyone? 

Rewards are a way to respond to a job well done. For example, when a Sales Associates gains XP points from completing training, they get tangible evidence of their achievement. These rewards work well to intrinsically motivate learners. 

Alternatively, a surplus of external rewards may deter intrinsically motivated learners. This is known as the overjustification effect. When someone is already looking forward to something and you offer an extrinsic reward, this can make them less motivated. The flashy prizes and other incentives may distract them from their intrinsic interest in the training. They may also feel bribed by the reward and may not want to complete the training for just the extrinsic goal. In this case, what they thought of as “interesting” content has now become identified as “work” by these extrinsic rewards. 

So, how do we reward them? 

You can’t have two separate platforms for each type of motivation so how do you engage both without under – or over- incentivizing them? This is the tightrope we’ve learned to balance on. 

You must tap into their intrinsic feelings. 

When Sales Associates are intrinsically motivated, they are looking for a positive emotion at the end of their efforts. They are typically naturally interested in the content for their own benefit and growth. At the end of their training, they want to reap the rewards of quality content. This means designing training that continues to engage, empower, and educate them. 

Let’s look at the desired outcomes intrinsically motivated learners want to achieve and how you can help them get there. 

The Intrinsic Impact 

Self-Esteem – Intrinsic learners may want to boost their self-esteem by completing challenging tasks. Designing training with interesting assessment methods that challenge and engage them will incentivize them to achieve something they haven’t yet. By conquering this challenge, the training can help boost their self-esteem. 

Curiosity – Giving them the power to control and explore the training will invigorate their curiosity. Users can explore a virtual world and find new tasks to complete to learn skillsets. Or they can interact with a simulation for a virtual first-hand experience to learn from their mistakes. At the end of the training, their curiosity will lead them to feel empowered by the lessons they learned by themselves. 

Empowerment There are two basic ways in which empowerment can work for intrinsically motivated learners. The first is related to our previous point; allowing Sales Associates to create their own learning path according to their personal goals and interests will keep them engaged. On the other hand, when they feel they can take on new challenges and grow their ability to succeed, it becomes much easier to maintain the interest in learning. Offering them content that they’ll find significant and useful for what they do is key to enhancing their motivation. 

Social influence Though validation and influence come from an external source, praise and recognition speak to the personal values of the intrinsic learner. They want to exceed by and for themselves, and praise and recognition confirm that they are doing this, reinforcing their efforts with positive feedback. Also, seeing their actions had a positive influence on others they might feel inspired to continue engaged.  

There’s something for everybody in quality training and interactive learning platforms. At HALIGHT, we design solutions that speak to all Sales Associates so your organization can develop excellent employees with training that works for them. Find out more and talk to us today! 


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