Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

How Can Work Be Designed to Be Intrinsically Rewarding? Qualitative Insights from South African Non-Profit Employees

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

How Can Work Be Designed to Be Intrinsically Rewarding? Qualitative Insights from South African Non-Profit Employees

Article excerpt

Introduction

In order to improve the strength of an organisation's value exchange for its employees, organisations should develop reward systems that emphasise both extrinsic and intrinsic rewards (Calvert & Stiles, 2010). Extrinsic rewards are tangible, transactional rewards provided to employees for undertaking work within the context of employment (Perkins & White, 2009), such as salaries, bonuses and benefits. On the other hand, intrinsic rewards are personal, internal, psychological responses to one's work that employees receive from doing work that is meaningful, and performing such work well (Thomas, 2009; Tippet & Kluvers, 2007). They are selfadministered rewards that are associated with the job itself (Meyer & Kirsten, 2012; WorldatWork, 2007), as opposed to being provided by an external source such as management. Intrinsic rewards include opportunities to perform varied and diverse activities; to do work that is interesting; to enjoy opportunities to grow personally; to take greater responsibility; to participate in decisionmaking; and to enjoy freedom and discretion in one's job (DeCenzo, Robbins & Verhulst, 2010; Swanepoel, Erasmus & Schenk, 2008).

Intrinsic rewards play a role of particular importance to non-profit employees, because employees working for independent non-governmental organisations in South Africa earn, on average, 40.37% less than employees in the private sector in this country, and 22.06% less than those working for international non-governmental organisations (Ryder, 2008). A similar trend is apparent within the United States of America, with Cohen (2010) highlighting that fulltime employees working within non-profit organisations (NPOs) are paid less than their private sector or government counterparts, particularly in higher-level and management jobs, and NPO employees generally receive fewer bonuses and equity than private sector employees. Based on the lower salaries received by NPO employees, it is logical to infer that extrinsic rewards will not necessarily be the primary source of reward for such employees. Taking this into account, Werner (2004) suggests that when individuals are motivated by work that is challenging, meaningful and interesting, then external control mechanisms such as incentives take less prominence. It should be noted that this implies that employees might tolerate lower salaries in relation to the market, should their work be sufficiently stimulating and enjoyable so as to result in motivation. Non-profit employees who earn below-market salaries may thus feel sufficiently rewarded by the nature of their work, causing them to remain motivated to perform to the best of their abilities.

Confirming this, Schepers et al. (2005) provide evidence indicating that intrinsic rewards, as opposed to extrinsic rewards such as money, motivate employees working in NPOs. Furthermore, Selden and Sowa (2011) found in their study of 22 human service organisations that none relied on performance-based monetary rewards and incentives, but instead depended on their employees being satisfied with the intrinsic rewards provided by their work. Such intrinsic reward NPO literature is limited, however, implying that further investigation is required in order to understand what factors might intrinsically reward NPO employees.

In addition, there is a lack of empirical studies focusing on intrinsic rewards that have been conducted within South Africa. Nujjoo and Meyer (2012) revealed that the satisfaction derived by employees from their intrinsic job characteristics, such as the extent to which their tasks are appealing, is more important for intrinsic motivation than extrinsic rewards such as monetary benefits, while Jacobs, Renard and Snelgar (2014) showed that the provision of intrinsic rewards to retail employees is positively correlated with levels of work engagement, particularly between meaningfulness (an intrinsic reward) and dedication (a dimension of work engagement). …

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