Intrinsic rewards for employees and examples of how to use them in the workplace

04 May 2022

Employee rewards are a proven way to boost employee engagement, productivity, and motivation.

Our own research into the effects of rewards on employee performance found that 75% of employees said rewards made them feel valued and showed them that the company cares about them.

When you think of employee rewards, you probably conjure up images of gift cards, eGifts, and experience vouchers. These are all examples of extrinsic rewards, which are usually financial rewards (such as pay and bonuses) or a tangible reward. As such, extrinsic rewards are controlled by managers and external to the employee actually completing the work.

Alongside this highly effective method of recognising and motivating employees, there is another workplace reward that you should consider as part of your employee recognition scheme: Intrinsic rewards.

What are intrinsic rewards?

Intrinsic rewards are psychological rewards that employees receive upon completing work they find meaningful to a high standard of performance. Unlike extrinsic rewards, intrinsic rewards are directly related to the work at hand and are driven by an employee’s internal motivation and drive to gain satisfaction by completing a project, finishing a course, or developing a new skill.

Positive culture

Fostering an inclusive culture of positivity will make employees feel supported and valued. This kick-starts the intrinsic workplace motivation to succeed in their roles. That’s why companies with a positive culture:


Be sure to regularly reinforce your employees’ accomplishments and let them know that what they are doing is helping the company move towards its goals.

Giving them a sense of career progression can help to give employees a sense of accomplishment, which can motivate them to go the extra mile and make them feel more in control of their destiny and that they’re an integral part of the future of your business.


Employees like to feel that their employers trust them enough to give them the freedom to complete their duties based on their own best judgement and abilities.

Studies have shown that giving employees a sense of choice and more autonomy to structure their own working day can increase engagement and wellness and reduce burnout and exhaustion.


The top answer to why employees stick with a company is because they ‘find the work meaningful’, according to one survey.

That’s because people like to feel that what they’re doing matters. We spend one-third of our lives at work so it’s vital that we help employees feel a strong sense of purpose. This can be acknowledging that their accomplishments have contributed to a team’s success or helped add value to the business.

Equally, it can be extremely meaningful for an employee to complete an important task that involves learning something new.

Continuous professional development

One of the best ways to show that you value your employees as individuals is to give them plenty of opportunities to develop their skillset with training.

Encouraging your employees to develop shows that their needs and goals are important to the business and helps to make them feel like a valued part of the company.

Plus, learning and development opportunities make 80% of employees feel more engaged at work.

The benefits of intrinsic rewards for employees

Offering employees intrinsic rewards can lead to the following positive outcomes:

As the research shows, there are clear benefits to using both extrinsic and intrinsic employee rewards in the workplace.

If you’d like to develop your extrinsic employee rewards programme, we’d love to help. Get in touch today on 020 4517 5862.

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