For decades, most workplace wellness programs have focused on providing external incentives to motivate people to participate. The thought has been that if you offer employees money to complete health-risk appraisals (HRAs) or give individuals extra days off for engaging in certain activities, then people will join in and be persuaded to live healthy lives.
Guess what? Although taking this approach may result in short-term positives, it rarely leads to lasting, beneficial behaviors. The source of motivation is all wrong.
When it comes to motivation, there are two basic types:
• Extrinsic — coming from outside one’s self/an external force, person, organization, etc.
• Intrinsic — coming from within one’s self
Using money, awards, praise, etc., are examples of extrinsic motivation. People do something because of the external incentive to do so. They may not actually enjoy certain activities or want to do them but engage in them solely to receive the external reward. Remove the reward and the individuals often stop participating. What’s more, if the incentives weren’t appealing enough to some people in the first place, they may never participate at all.
Instead of focusing on extrinsic motivation, workplace wellness programs should consider intrinsic motivation.
This type of motivation involves doing something because people enjoy it and/or it enriches their lives somehow. For individuals who are intrinsically motivated, the enjoyment/results from the activities/behaviors themselves provide enough motivation to encourage the activities/behaviors in the future.
If you’re thinking, “This all makes sense, but how can I incorporate intrinsic motivation into my wellness program?” Check out this article on how to get started creating an environment where intrinsic motivation can flourish in your workplace: