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Boost Intrinsic Motivation to Increase Employee Engagement

June 15, 2011

Image Courtesy of Grant Cochrane /

Senior managers and executives looking to boost intrinsic motivation can do so by adopting some simple practices:

  • Give Control: Brain scans illustrate that “the pleasure neurotransmitter, dopamine, is released in the brain, not when we’re rewarded, but when we’re fully engaged in the work that leads to the reward” (National Post, March 18, 2011). Simply put, you can increase your employee’s job satisfaction through their work. When employees feel like they are in command of their own projects and career, they are naturally more engaged and invested in their job, and thus, more productive (Time Magazine, January 12, 2010).

Leaders can give their employees control by allowing them to manage their time. Adopting a principal such as 90/10 – 10% of the time they are free to work on whatever they desire- is a good place to begin (Time Magazine, January 12, 2010).

  • Create a Sense of Belonging: Some employees are spending more time on the job than with their loved ones, stressing the importance of a strong community environment at work (JRA Kenexa, July 2008). The Great Place to Work Institute Canada has consistently revealed that companies at the top of the list are known for cutting edge cultures that are built on employee trust (Canadian Business, 2006). Take Microsoft Canada Inc., the number one Canadian employer in 2011, their employees love their company because it celebrates diverse people and ideas. Therefore they are valued as more than just an individual occupying a position (Life at Microsoft,

Leaders can create a sense of community by implementing strategies that encourage collaboration such as a company blog or daily newsletter that inform employees of what is happening within their company. Furthermore, online collaboration tools such as Yammer, which allows coworkers to chat and share pictures, could be helpful in advancing this goal (Inc., Feb 24, 2011).

  • Create Purpose: Kenneth Thomas of Ivey Business School explains that when employees feel they have an opportunity to “accomplish something of real value – something that matters in the larger scheme of things” they are more successful. This is because they can justify the amount of effort, time and energy put into a given task (Ivey Business Journal, December 2009).  By illustrating the company’s purpose, employees will understand how their work impacts on the organization.

Leaders can create purpose by clearly communicating their vision to their employees. Bestselling author Daniel Pink outlined a simple exercise in his interview with Time Magazine (2010). He suggests that each employee be given 3-5 blank cards on which they will write their interpretation of the company’s purpose. Leaders can then assess how cohesive their message is and what the company means to their workers (Time Magazine, January 12, 2010).

Looking for more Tips and Tricks? Try these great books:


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