The Four Forms of Motivation

Motivation can be hard to come by. There’s always something else to do; it seems – another task, another project, another meet...

May 27, 2021
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How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
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Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
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If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
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Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
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Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
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You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
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Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
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Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
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What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
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What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
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If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
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What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
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Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
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What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
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Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
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Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
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What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

Motivation can be hard to come by. There’s always something else to do; it seems – another task, another project, another meeting – and even the most high-performing employees can struggle to perform at an optimal level.

To effectively incentivize and motivate employees to perform, it’s essential to understand the different forms of motivation and how they contribute to an employee’s work performance and overall engagement.

The Science Behind Motivation

Despite how we may talk about it, motivation isn’t a resource – it’s a response to stimuli, and that response differs from person to person. Different stimuli trigger different parts of the brain and motivate people toward productivity in different ways. 

Neuroscientists and psychologists have established that humans generally experience motivation when the neurotransmitter known as dopamine relays signals between brain cells is released. When dopamine reaches the nucleus accumbens – the brain area that mediates reward behavior – it solicits feedback on whether a good or bad thing is about to happen.

If an employee gets an email from their boss with a new assignment, dopamine taps the nucleus accumbens to predict what will happen if the task is done well, poorly, or not at all. When the expected outcome is realized, the employee will either act to increase the probability of reward or decrease the likelihood of a negative consequence.

Want to learn how to motivate employees and improve company culture? Book 15 minutes to get started.

The Four Forms of Motivation

Understanding what motivates each employee is crucial to both organizational and individual success, maximizing productivity, and keeping your teams happy. Here’s how to encourage and incentivize employees based on their preferred motivation style.

Extrinsic Motivation

If an employee is motivated to succeed based on influences like increased financial gain (such as commission or bonuses) or promotions, or if they do good work only because they fear negative consequences, they are likely extrinsically motivated. While this is ideal for employees in a competitive environment where their commission or promotions are dependent on their success, extrinsic motivation doesn’t work consistently. Eventually, promotions and compensation won’t motivate employees, which can be problematic down the road.

Check out this blog for more on how to motivate employees without money.

Intrinsic Motivation

If an employee is motivated by an internal desire to succeed or desire self-actualization or self-exploration, they are likely intrinsically motivated. While employers may feel employees don’t need external rewards because they have an internalized sense of motivation, morale is still important to reward these employees. Intrinsically motivated employees are more likely to place a high value on their boss saying “Good job” rather than being given a bonus at the end of the year.

See how you can easily recognize teammates with this template: 

Introjected Motivation

This form of motivation is more common than you think, and that’s not a good thing for employee morale or productivity. Introjected motivation is a negative internalized motivation, similar to negative reinforcement. The stimulus for introjected motivation may take many forms, such as internalized guilt around a previous negative interaction with a boss or colleague or consistent negative feedback without positive action items.

Identified Motivation

Sometimes called “self-determined motivation,” this is the most complex of the motivation forms because it builds up over time and isn’t something that can be created or instilled in a person with the snap of a finger. Identified motivation presents itself as feeling the need to perform or accomplish a task but not acting on the need until the desire to do so actualizes. While it’s often impractical to wait for someone to become motivated, this form of motivation is potent because the act of actualizing motivation creates lasting accomplishment and performance enhancement.

Need more tips? Check out the more ideas here or try a goal defining flow to make sure you are getting and staying productive.

Want to learn more? Schedule time to chat and see how you can start motivation your employees.

Maximize Motivation

If managers and supervisors reflect on the employees they work with or report to them, chances are pretty good they will instantly recognize which type of motivation works best for each employee. By tapping into that knowledge, managers can easily keep their employees motivated to do their best work simply by approaching task delegation in the most effective manner possible. For example:

  • If an employee is extrinsically motivated, consistently motivate them with incentive programs and tangible rewards. These can be small, such as a personalized gift for assisting on a large project, or large, such as a benefits increase after a stellar end-of-year performance review.
  • If an employee is intrinsically motivated, be generous with your verbal and written praise during one-on-one meetings or in emails.
  • If an employee appears to approach work with an introjected mindset, focus on applying positive feedback to their work and critique. 
  • If an employee takes a while to actualize their motivation, sit down with them and ask if there is anything you can do to support their adjustment to a new task.

Want to learn how to motivate employees ? Book 15 minutes to get started for FREE.

Final Word

Motivation in the workplace can take many forms, and what works to motivate one person may not do so for another. Understanding a wide range of motivation types can help managers and supervisors seek new methods that will help their teams excel. Doing this will enable you and your team to succeed in the long run.

Assembly makes it fun and easy to engage and motivate employees and provide them with tools for self-evaluation. Don't waste time, start for FREE today.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

Get the foundational knowledge on creating an employee recognition program that boosts employee engagement and helps them feel valued.

Explore Guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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Please schedule time with an expert and we will help you to get all your questions answered