Intrinsic & Extrinsic Job Characteristics


Only 45% of Americans were satisfied with their jobs in 2010, according to the Conference Board Research Group. Employees generally get both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits from their jobs. Intrinsic benefits are benefits found within the task itself. For example, a sales representative might enjoy a conversation with a prospective client. The extrinsic benefits are caused by the task, but are outside the actual task. For example, the same sales representative will also like the commission.

Enjoyable Tasks

  • Some professionals enjoy the work they perform. They might enjoy the challenge. The work might be interesting to them. The work might bring considerable variety that keeps the professional from getting bored. When the work itself does not have intrinsic value for the employee, companies usually need to provide increased extrinsic value to make up the difference.

Work-Family Balance

  • Work-family balance is an extrinsic value. Companies that provide employees with a work-family balance make it easier for employees to spend time with their families, take vacations and take time off to participate in family events or take care of sick children. Generation X members rate work-family balance as the most crucial factor when choosing a job and often point to personal relationships as the ultimate source of happiness, according to research done by Cheryl J. Curry and published on the Georgia State University website.

Social Good

  • Some workers are highly motivated by the positive effect their work has on society, which serves as an intrinsic motivation. Public sector workers are often concerned about whether or not their actions will have a positive impact on society. Because public sector jobs tend to provide more opportunities for helping others, those motivated by the need for philanthropy will often gravitate towards these careers.


  • Compensation is one of the primary extrinsic motivators for job seekers. Having a steady income can allow workers to have considerable freedom, financial independence and stability in their lives. Compared to the Baby Boomers, those from the Generation X were more likely to change jobs in search of better compensation, according to Curry.


  • Promotion, which often comes with more pay, can serve as a significant motivator for those interested in advancing their careers. Promotions allow workers to prove their competence in various areas, can increase their job security and can help them acquire skills that are highly transferable into other professions, such as management skills.


  • Co-workers can often serve as an extrinsic motivator for employees. Most workers prefer to work with others who they enjoy spending time with. Conflict, especially inter-generational conflict, can have a negative impact on the overall job satisfaction of the employees. In contrast, healthy working relationships can increase employee loyalty.

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