Blazing a New Incentives Trail with Intrinsic Motivation

Employers: Here’s a scenario you’ll find all too familiar. You want an employee to take actionsay, to complete a health assessment. The employee might ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” The answer is usually a small reward, like money, points, or even a savings on their premium.

This is the current state of how incentive programs operate. A task needs to be completed, an outside reward is offered, and action is inspired. And it works! Your employee engages with their benefits and you get a return on your investment (not to mention value of investment). It’s a win-win.

But what if it could be even better? More meaningful?

We think there’s a new approach on the horizonone that balances extrinsic motivation (outside rewards) with a person’s internal drive to be in control of their choices. To master new skills. To connect with others.

It starts with incorporating intrinsic motivation. 

A difference in motivators

Extrinsic motivation brings short-term rewards, while intrinsic leads to long-lasting, self-sustaining rewards. The Self-Determination Theory, which seeks to understand and explain human motivation, frames it well. Essentially, the theory suggests that everyone is motivated in one way or another by external factors, like grades, awards, and other people’s opinions. However, they’re equally influenced by internal drivers and actions that support their autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 

Ultimately, when people can choose their actions, feel they’re good at something, and relate to others, the motivation to achieve those tasks is deep and innateand we believe it can be woven into incentive programs.

Driving intended change

HealthQuests, a key component of Evive’s well-being program, show how intrinsic motivators are working in other areas of the benefits ecosystem.

When someone begins this digital journey of a HealthQuest, they choose their goal, like increasing their energy or losing weight, and then specify an action they want to focus on to achieve it. That person engages in small steps that teach self-efficacy and sees how the actions they’re taking align with the values that led them to choose their goal in the first place. 

HealthQuests are setting the stage for where Evive can take incentive programs in the future. Other ways we envision intrinsic motivation having an impact include allowing people to choose their incentive activities, as well as how they want to spend their rewards. Moreover, we want to help them understand exactly why the activities are beneficial. Incentive programs with this sort of design could inspire engagement that brings an intended impact of self-satisfaction, rather than simply checking off a task and happening to reap healthy results as a circumstance. 

Incentive programs, integrated

Employee benefits have a stronger impact when they work together as a holistic, integrated package. Incentives don’t need to be siloedin fact, why not look at them as another benefit that can support someone on their employee journey? 

Incorporating intrinsic motivation into your incentives program, and embedding that program into the overall employee experience, is what will create longer-lasting, sustainable behavior change. We’re ready to think about incentives differently. Are you? 



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